Peggy Noonan: A Separate Peace

"I mean I believe there's a general and amorphous sense that things are broken and tough history is coming."

peggy may have it right , that the wheels are coming off the trolley..but it's not because things are too complex or overwhelming..but because the decision making is so crappy..knee jerk aggression has isolated this country from the rest of the world....if you were a small nation watching what was going on in iraq, you'd damn soon start a nuclear program in the face of the's the only defense that has a chance if you don't want to be overrun by "democracy"
I just found something interesting.

I picked up a copy of the Jared Diamond lecture at the Long Now Foundation on his book "Collapse" and listened to it on my walk.  Part way through he does a riff on how "when elites can insulate themsleves from trouble, collapse is more likely."

I read a bit from Collapse a while back but not the whole thing.  The very striking thing today though was how Peggy's comments echo Diamond.  Now, was she just echoing Diamond, or were they coming from different directions?

The Diamond mp3 is at the bottom of this page:

Good lord! Reaganite goes from "It's morning in America!" to "It's mourning in America..."

In this long litany of problems, it's interesting what Peggy doesn't mention: gasoline prices, or oil, or Katrina, or greenhouse gases / global warming / climate change. Iraq gets a single-word mention. (Harriet Miers gets 3 mentions, though. Let's get a grip, and a sense of priorities.) I can't help thinking that if she knew what the TOD community knows, she'd really be bummed out.

Peggy Noonan and James Howard Kunstler ought to sit down for a blab. They'd have a lot to talk about. And I'd like to hear it.

I wonder who could "insufferable" the other first.
They should invite Craig Smith and Jerome Corsi when they sit down for a chat.

'Hubbert's Peak' is a failed theory
Craig Smith and I wrote "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil" to take exception with the Fossil-Fuel Theory. We argue the science of oil as an abiotic, natural product that the Earth generates on a constant basis.

Corsi and his buddy are no better than the nuts writing books about Roswell aliens. Take some crackpot bit and push it as science, stir a little controversy and ...voila!! Book sales increase. Who cares if you're wrong - public has attention span of a gnat, and the money is in the bank...
Ehh, Peggy is just sensing her own life winding down and is projecting that onto the rest of the world. "If I'm starting to feel this old and broken down, EVERYONE must be!!!"

There are definitely problems, but there are always problems. I don't believe for a minute that things are irreperably damaged, but that could just be my irrational American optimism.

It probably is. But I fall prey to that comforting beast from time to time too. No Worries.
This is something you can feel in your guts - if you are listening to it. Yes, the wheels are falling off. And you know that the problems are real when you see a desperate attempt to fix them. The present US government is such a desperate attempt.

Before the Soviet Union finally collapsed in August 1991 there was a failed, farcical coup to save it. It was those coup-makers, acting in the name of old system, that forbade the Communist Party. They arrested the president of the Soviet Union. He never returned to real power. Those who pretended to save the system destroyed it. Nobody followed them but they were allowed to disband the the old order.

The present situation in the US reminds me of this. We could say that there was some kind of a coup attempted after September 2001. The neocons, very bright bunch of people, came out to make a very bold plan to save the US positions. A permanent war was declared. Two actual wars were started. The country was in a state of alarm. There was talk of total mobilization of all resources like in the WWII, a huge wave of patriotism, talk of imminent red level alert and martial law. But then it all stopped. Suddenly everybody, even the Republicans, are feeling that it is over. It is. The attempt has failed.

I was visiting in Moscow in the beginning of August 1991, two weeks before the Soviet Union collapsed. I remember having a strange feeling that the system, the society, had stopped, that it was not working any more. Only long time afterwards I understood that this was not an illusion, mere feeling, but reality: the city was more quiet because of the fuel crisis.  Less traffic, less activity, less people around.

May be, you cannot feel the US stopping like that yet. But Peggy Noonan is having that strange feeling. A loss of energy, resignation, "a separate peace". Well, so it goes. This is how an energy crisis feels. The real one.

Something wicked this way comes.

I think that what a lot of people are feeling is a combination of increasing realization that what they see does not jibe with what they are told, and the shattering of a fair number of national myths about ourselves.  What shines through underneath raises disturbing questions about our virtues and vulnerabilities, and makes people feel very uncomfortable.

Many people are trying to hold tight to many shattered myths, national and otherwise, perhaps contributing to the ever skyrocketing sales of Prozac and Wellbutrin.

Would more of these people (which include me) be working harder to get the trolley back on the track if we felt that the track was going in the right direction to begin with?

What Peggy lists are a bunch of grievances and excuses about what is happening and why they are happening, when there is a lack of leadership.

Instead of thinking of the presidency or federal government, think of a management situation you have been in when there has been poor leadership.  The same gripes would be aired.  Too complex.  No consensus.  No one can control the situation.  All of these statements are identical in business organizations when a poor (or no) leader is in a leadership position.

Things are clearly not going well for the USA under the current Republican controlled federal government.  Republicans (at the level of Peggy Noonan) need to look in the mirror and admit that they might be a big part of the problem.  Instead there are all these excuses about how no one could do the job, the world is too complex, the country is divided, people don't believe in the right things, etc.  Well who's fault is that?

The country has seen a system wide lack of leadership on many fronts since Katrina.  This begs the question that maybe the leadership for more complicated foreign issues is equally poor.  

My statements here are not Republican vs Democrat based.  The statements are people and ideologically based.  True leadership, from either party, can reverse the situation but people like Peggy Noonan have a great influence into who gets into those positions.  For her to now say that things are in decline is not a statement about the potential of the USA.  It is a statement about the effectiveness of the people currently in power.

I learned about the possibility of oil shortages occurring during the early 21st century back in 1980--the year Peggy's diety, Reagan, was elected. I've watched everything slide downhill since then.
I posted  before I spotted your post (though I scanned first) then noticed your reference to Reagan.

When you look at Jimmy Carter's energy policies and plans, then Reagan's and what he did, it becomes pretty obvious that Reagan made a wrong turn and that will probably result in a billion or so extra global deaths. Does that make him the greatest mass murderer in history?

Here are some of JC's speeches in mp3 format, you will probably be shocked by how 'real' he is on energy:

Thanks fo rthe link

Some observations:

1.    For a President, he used quite a few words, and spoke for quite a long time.  He seemed to know what he was talking about.  I had forgotten what that sounded like.
2.    Carter was not a very dynamic speaker.  It was even hard for me to pay attention through the whole thing. Pity, as the message was probably lost on many.
3.    He was a few decades ahead of time in his predictions about the consequences, but otherwise he was correct.  So it brings up the question of timing now too.  A bright, technically trained man, privy to all the information that could be had - but he got the timing wrong too.
4.    If we had followed his lead then, think where we would be now.

How was his timing so wrong?

All of us here recognize that replacing infrastructure is a 2-3 decade long process. If we had begun then to change our energy consumption patterns and invest in alternatives to oil, we'd be just about where we need to be right now.

When I consider that, he was not ahead of his time but the voters were too far behind the times. And the bulk of voters are still behind the times today. People are only now stirring to the realization that something needs to be done but it may well be too late to avoid serious impacts.

I would have to go back and listen to it again to get the exact wording, but some of his predictions of the consequences of doing nothing did not seem to take into account the amount of oil we eventually were able in import.  Of course we did not do nothing, we did reduce consumption somewhat, but I don't think that alone reduced the impact.  Unfortuately, it is only the specific dire consequences predicted that people focus on, and then when they don't happen exactly as outlined everyone says "see, you were wrong".  It's just an excuse to put their heads back in the sand.

On the whole of course, he was correct.  I have a great respect for Carter, and wonder what he's thinking now, especially in regard to these energy issues.

One thing he did not anticipate: that the gap between the haves and the have-nots would widen into a chasm.  

Many of the estimates of the time assumed that the rest of the world would catch up to the U.S.  That there would be a car in every garage, all over the world.  

Instead, there are three cars in American garages and a lot of people in Africa don't even own a bike.  

Bingo, well said NC.

Peggy Noonan cites the NY Times and CBS as examples of media imploding on themselves. Hah!  These media giants  made mistakes but at least they had the deceny and morality to fess up and come clean (NYT still in the process with Judith Miller).  The Wall Street Journal and Fox News are examples of giant media that have made countless egregiously bad editorial judgments and pronouncements supporting the boy king and his boss Big Time Cheney in their immoral, inhuman and bankrupting policies.  These are Noonan's media friends.

At a time when we need to make gargantuan investments of capital, technology, education and conservation to transition into a world without fossil fuels, we are also going to be stuck trying to extricate ourselves from the deepening hell-hole of life under Bush.  We had a shot five years ago, but will we be able to recover starting in 2009? I'm doubtful.

Where does a Republican like Noonan get off complaining about people who say, "I've got mine, you get yours"? That is the very essence of contemporary Republicanism.
She may be a rightwing nut, but she's a Reaganite rightwing nut.  There's a widening schism between the Reagan Republicans and the Bushies.  Note that she criticizes Dubya in this essay, noting that he goes looking for trouble when he can't handle the trouble he already has.
She doesn't sound like a right-wing nut, she sounds frightned.  The article sent a chill dowm my spine, not because of what she said as much as who she is and especially where it was printed.  The WSJ is better known for "irrational exuberance" than "gloom and doom"

Great discussion in this thread, by the way.

The WSJ is merely acting as a barometer of prevailing social mood - the mentality of the herd. During the long bull market (especially the last few years of it) 'irrational exuberance' was the order of the day. Now we are five years into a historic bear market and the mood is very different. The herd is on the verge of seeing the whole financial house of cards for the empty shell it is (the uh-oh effect, or point of recognition). The next step will be to build an irrational head of steam in the direction of gloom and doom. Not that there won't be anything genuine to worry about - of course there will - but the reaction of the herd can be expected to magnify the effects to the downside the way they once magnified them to the upside. That's positive feedback for you.
I read Peggy Noonan's Reagan book a long time ago.  That book made Reagan, and Peggy, very likeable.  Since then I have seen Peggy rise to defend the indefensible, which left her less likeable to me.

I'd seen this essay linked to before, but skipped it.  I'm glad I read it this time.  Some of it may be over the top, but there is some truth told too.  Government players are "owned" and more allegiant to their owners than to solving our problems.

Come on, Oil Drum readers should know it ... we've been Enroned in a broader sense than that one company.  And if the response of our elites is to make sure they have theirs ... we're in trouble.

Peak Oil, terrorism, population overshoot via illegals, trade deficit, budget (8 TRILLION) deficit, personal deficits, over extended credit system, hollow banking system, humongous defense spending, war in Iraq, mega-corp bankruptcies, pension funding crisis...ok, that's just what I came up with in the 30 seconds I allotted myself.

I've been thinking about this stuff, and looking at the rest of the world. We are unique in a key way:

500 +/- state reps   50 senators   296,000,000 people
our "representation" is 1 person for every 538,000 citizens

in 1778:

48 state reps        26 senators   2,500,000 people
Their representation was 1 person for every 33,800 citizens

I would submit that a single man, in an agrarian society or even a moderately industrial society, could represent that many people (33,800) with a focused, full time effort.

Today, with the lobbyists, special interests, required fund raising, the sheer pace of life and the overload of information all of us experience, I do not think that a single person could effectively represent 33,800 people even if it were worked as a full time job.

50-65% of their time, our representatives are looking for money to finance their campaigns. There is no other way they can raise the money needed without putting in the face time to get those checks signed.

So, what are we really left with?

Each of our representatives is a part timer to begin with.
Each of them is representating 16 times as many people as in 1778.
Each of them has to educate themselves on hundreds of bills floating in their respective chambers.
Each of these bills consume a small forest when printed, and require a legal background to decipher; some are truly indecipherable when they are finally submitted. None are less than a hundred pages by the time each body is done with them. Some exceed a thousand.
Each of them receives over a thousand emails and letters a week.
God only knows what kind of cell phone bill they have.
Most are married with kids and a political widow at home.

I would submit that we have a government totally unable to respond to anything short of a national crisis. We have fielded a crisis management team as our government, and the criteria for inclusion is their ability to scam money from the corporate world. This is the primary requirement just to get INTO the system!

We are not represented effectively. The country is entirely too big to be governed by this small number of people, our civilization too complex and our population too diverse.

We have a small group of people who are hopelessly out of their depth from the moment they get to D.C., and they can only work part time in order to keep their jobs!!

And we haven't even gotten into the bureaucratic nightmare that is the Federal government itself, with all their regulations and rules and codes...

We are too big for our government as things stand today.

We need to downsize into some kind of regional confederation.

We need to get our representation back, so that people willing to group together can have their voice heard without paying for it with large cash donations or with some type of strike or civil disobedience.

I would submit that we have a government totally unable to respond to anything short of a national crisis.

Really? I would say that if there were a national crisis, we'd find that the government is totally paralyzed and wholly unable to respond. Katrina, anyone?

In my heart of hearts, I sometimes think that Americans show great hubris for believing that we can escape the governmental ills of other countries. Even industrialized countries have fallen prey to dictators (Franco? Mussolini? Hitler?), or made other bad governmental choices. I'm not suggesting that our current government is dictatorial, but in the past several decades we've given in to massive corruption and governance by the corporations. What made us think that we could stay above the fray? It seems to me that there is no sense in which we are objectively better than any other human society.

I would add that Americans think we are so superior that we won't suffer any from peak oil or GW or anything else.  Peggy Noonan's cited column is on the money.  We need to reset our expectations.  
500 +/- state reps   50 senators

Uhmmm, 100 senators (2 per state).  Not that it changes your math much.

I was waiting for that - but looking at how they vote, it could just as well be 50 anyway. Rarely do senators from the same state separate on key votes, except along party lines...
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

IMHO, Dear Miss Peggy mis-under-estimates the difference between the upper crust "elites" (Kings, Queens and Noble persons) and the parasitic minions (Greenspan & company) who lodge themselves between the let-them-eat-cake Barbara Bushes and the rest of us.

The true elites are too far up there to know there is a trolley car. They ride in Lear Jets.

The minions invent and push forth the Adam Smith fantasy of how the "markets" will provide. Their intent is to serve the elites so that the elites keep these minions around as house pets.

The rest of us ride the trolley cars and continue to fall off in larger and larger numbers.

I think Peggy had a revelation similar to that of King Canute, when he realized that he could not stop the tide coming in.
They are not explicity mentioned, but Peak Oil and exponential growth sure would feed nicely into her column.

Very courageous of Peggy, IMHO.

Peggy is thinking and possibly acting precisely like the elite that the current administration despises and have done it utmost to undercut using various strategies and tactics.  The doublespeak Orwell predicted is now the standard oratory.  The effort to convince the populace that scientific facts matter less than faith-based ways of thinking is a strategy that has been put to effective use.  The ability of well-funded think tanks to create doubt and confusion about issues around which we used to have consensus has been used repeatedly as a political strategy.  The questioning of the patriotism of those who dare to raise doubts about government policy harkens to other dictatorial regimes.  One could go on and on.

People no longer seem to understand the deep and profound ideas about democracy, justice, equality, etc. expounded by our founding fathers.  Can anyone think of a profound statement by our president in the last four years?  The only one I can think of is:

"You can fool some of the people all of the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on."
George W. Bush -- Washington, DC, March 31, 2001

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

(from The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats)

Thanks!  I was trying to remember that poem.
George Bush: "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator." December 18, 2000
I am amused to say the least. When Peggy Noonan was a Ronald Reagan speechwriter she was at least as much a sycophant to him, as Miers is to George W. Bush. Even as Noonan attacks W. the greater thrust of the piece is to defend him: Bush's troubles come,  not from a lack of competence, because the job has become too hard. Spare me!!
The "looney fringe thoughts" first posed here on TOD and in other Peak Oil sites are starting to infiltrate into mainstream thought.

A local radio talk show host was just interviewing  Richard Clarke, author of 'The Scorpion's Gate'

Clarke was saying matter of factly on the radio, oh yeh, we're in a big oil crisis and the Invisible Hand of the Market System is never going to solve the problem, our whole system is dysfunctional

Link to another interview with Clarke: 1

Her complexity argument compounds the old Imperial Presidency problem--the president is too cut off from reality by yes men, secrecy, bureaucracy, etc., to have any hope of making good decisions even if he wanted to.  In other words, if you or I were president, we still couldn't accomplish our goals because of structural problems.
What's saved us in the past has been a robust national dialogue, including a sufficiently broad spectrum of opinion, reference to facts, and a minimum sense of openness.  However, under single-party government, fear of terrorism and a supine media, these qualities are endangered.  As the quality of the national dialogue deteriorates, it becomes harder and harder for our society to make good, or at least less destructive, decisions.  
Oil's well that ends well.


A content analysis: the 27 comments in this thread to date show general agreement between the TOD community and Peggy Noonan, Reagan speechwriter. Who'd have thunk it?

Perhaps we should replace our Goooogle ads for Surgical Prostheses and Don't Have A Hysterectomy with some of those really cool Republican singles dating sites.

   "Peak Oil, terrorism, population overshoot via illegals,......megacorp bankruptcies,pension funding crisis"
    Let's be serious. These problems don't compare to those that faced England in the past.
    What about the Spanish Armada in 1588? If they had landed the Spanish Army, the much smaller English Army would have been overwhelmed and England occupied. (Americans might well be speaking Spanish now.)
    What about 1805 with Napoleon and the Grande Armie at Boulogne? They would have won if they had landed in England but the Royal Navy kept them out.
    What about 1940 when the British Army was rescued from Dunkirk but all the heavy equipment was left in France? The American ambassador was a defeatist person. The convoys to the US and Canada were ordered not to stop to pick up survivors from torpedoed ships. Lend Lease hadn't started...
    America's current problems are trivial by comparison.
America's current problems are trivial by comparison.

I think this is exactly what Noonan is saying.  She does not say we are headed for a crash, but the "wheels are falling off".  Compared to our history, our problems ARE trivial, and yet look how we react to them.  And then look at how we as a nation react truly important issues.  "Scooter" Libby was until Friday one of most influencial people in the US.  How much air time did his indictment receive this week?  How on earth do we stand that the banal Nick and Jessica receive such "wall-to-wall" coverage?

My impression is Noonan is talking about the Zeitgeist of our society.  How many Americans believe their kids will live as good a life as they do?  Peak Oil, exploding Nat'l Deficit, and Suburban Blight aside: How many of us feel confident that in twenty years, our society will be as healthy as it is today?  How many of us are sure about the next ten?  

The Chinese have a curse: May you live in interesting times.  One thing I am sure about is that the next ten years will be interesting.  Heck if I know what to do.

No, they're much more serious. America's problems are systemic, rapidly growing, and approaching the stage of complete insolubility. That is much worse than any passing military threat.
The "problem" is not unique to America.
Young folk are rioting in Paris, France due to endemic unemployment and loss of hope.

The problem is a global one.

As "productivity" increases, we need fewer and fewer people to do certain kinds of jobs.

(software coding anybody? anybody?)

As wealth becomes more concentrated in the hands of the wealthy few, we need fewer people to service them. (Poor folk can't afford to pay for services ... like medical, higher education, etc.)

There is something bigger happening out there than just the wheels on some "American" trolley car starting to screech and become unhinged.

Peggy Noonan, tear down YOUR walls !!!

(Meaning, your mental barriers to seeing all people of the Earth as being human creatures falling off their trolleys just as you are falling off yours).

p.s. for you youngin's who don't remeber who ronald reagan was, he was peggy's hero. he told the ruskies: mr. gorbachov tear down that wall ! (referring to the berlin wall). he thought he was so cool. peggy thought he was mr. movie star. it was a "wonderful life" back then.

I was in the Y locker room a few weeks ago, and an older fellow introduced himself.  He started to talk about it being time for a revolution in this country.  I gathered that he wanted to throw out the bad people so us good people could go back to the way it was.  

I've run into a lot of conservatives who think that the system is being brought down by the lower classes: welfare frauds, insurance cheats, lazy union workers, etc.

They're probably right, but they leave out all the corporate fraud, financial cheats and management that will trash a company to line their own portfolios.  

There's way too much corruption in all the classes.  Does it start at the top, or seep up from the bottom?  I don't know.

How great will I Got Mine be when you're living in an unstable, third-rate country.

How great will I Got Mine be when you're living in an unstable, third-rate country.

Good insight.
It's kind of like the question:
If you could have ALL the money in the world, would you want it?

The thoughtful answer is NO, it would be useless. I would have nowhere to spend it because everyone around me would be destitute.

It is not sufficient to say "I Got Mine"
You want to live in a society where all your neighbors have theirs too. Otherwise you are in a very insecure place.

Exactly right.

Peak oil will be a big regressive tax: the heaviest burden on the poor and working classes, proportionately less on the wealthier. Inequality, already a huge problem, will increase. So will insecurity.

It is fixable. There are capitalist models that aren't in the dog-eat-dog laissez-faire American variety. Most of Europe, and New Zealand, make trade-offs: higher taxes to redistribute some wealth. People at the very bottom economically are reasonably supported at the expense of the well-off. This buys lower crime, a chance for the next generations to do better, a humane society and a nicer place to live.

The fastest trend in American housing is the gated community, which Jerry Seinfeld calls "low security prisons." Once you've got yours, you can bar the gate. Or you can go it alone in a comfortable bunker:

At both ends of the economic and political spectrums, it is increasingly difficult to find truly honorable people. People whose word is their bond. People you might want to invite to dinner just to have a discussion.

Speaking of that, when was the last time any of you actually held a dinner party or had another family over just because you enjoyed their company?

There are remnants of "polite society" scattered throughout the nation, but impolite and impersonal society has become the norm. Neighborhoods are non-existent because the populace is so mobile for monetary gain. We are so busy earning to pay for things that there is no time for the social things that really matter, that make us civilized.

Honor is missing, as well as respect for our fellows.

How does one impart honor, except by example?

How does one impart respect, except to render it?

So look around - Libby, Tom Delay, Ken Lay, Clinton, .....where are the honorable ones?

Rotting from within, are we...

Human nature is very different than what the right wingers wish it was. If it wasn't then Homo sapiens would have become extinct tens of thousands of years ago. When faced with a common crisis we tend to work together unless a powerful vested interest gets in the way.  I've read the story that once Katrina had passed a group of survivors self organized to walk out of New Orleans to where the buses were being held at. The looting hadn't started yet and the people believed they help themselves by sticking together and helping each other to reach a common goal. The police on the other side of the bridge, representing a powerful vested interest turned them back. In order for a political minority group like the Republicans to stay in power and defend their billionaire masters they must oppose efforts by the weak majority to form any cooperative effert at survival such as environmentalists, scientists, and organized labor. We can meet the challenge of peak oil if and only if democracy returns to America.
Looting had already started (and been quelled across the river), which is why the Greta sheriffs were not allowing pedestrian traffic.  Which may be unlawful.

Here's a list of links.

Use of brute force is expensive.
Use of mind control is relatively cheap.
That is why "They who know how to make us fear panic-demics and how to make us run around like chickens without heads" use Think Tanking organizations to help shape the public mind set.

There are no problems.
Be happy.
Trust us.
Help is on the way.
Technology will save us.
The markets will provide.
They who are in charge deserve to be in charge because they are smarter than everyone else. Trust them. Doubt yourself. Doubt your logic.

After all, why are you where you are,
and "they" are up there where they are?

Reality and illusion.

Peggy, and most who've replied here, are still 90% deluded, don't realise what is inevitable. Though they sense 'something is wrong' the reality hasn't hit them. The cartoon character has run off the cliff, legs still whirring, and is about to go vertical.

It was broken before GW Bush became president, though there was a slim chance it could have been fixed. The election of GW in 2000 was the confirmation of the coffin closing on the US economy and, later, its pre-eminence as global superpower; several nails have been hammered in since and there is no way out now.

In retrospect historians will identify 1980 and the election of Reagan as the real tipping point, the change from reality to delusion mostly stems from then. Yep, the Reagan imbecile that so many Americans revere is the one who killed the 'American Dream'. The Bush presidents are just the undertakers.

Whole heartedly agree.
Jimmy Carter was (is) a real-world engineer.

Ronald was just an actor pretending to be an actor who deserved to be President. What "greatness" exactly did he communicate? Mr. Gorbichov tear down this wall? I've got brilliant pebbles flying upstairs in my spaced-out brain? Well there we go again. Trickle trickle. Hee hee hee.

No offense Nancy, but he probably had Alzheimers before we knew he had Alzheimers, ... before we knew WE have Alzheimers ... before we understood our civilization is heading for collapse. Jimmy knew.

What is Nancy's answer?
Just say NO to Peak Oil?
No to PO?
There you go ... Again.

RE: Noonan

Let's build a shrine around her home.  Call it, oh I don't know, how about "Delphi."  Hey, let's give Ol' Peggy a new title, "The Pythia."  Sounds good to me.  Then we can build branches around the country, one for The Kunstler, and one for ... well you get my point.

Seems gloomy people, when feeling gloomy, are attracted to the prophets of doom no matter the political stripe.  But, like the Pythia of ancient Greece, their little corner of the world offers no priveledged position.  What priveledge they do have only comes from the adherents of the prophecy itself.

I have been following the doom and gloom stories (economic and resource based) for a long time.  Still waiting for ONE, just one, of the many supposed WORLDWIDE calamaties to come true.

At this point, I am beginning to lose interest...

There, there, Tedman

You snuggle under your quilt in your centrally heated house and don't worry.

Interesting or not, resource and economic constraints are going to smack sooner or later - unless we are living in someone's benevolent game that they keep tweaking in our favour. The questions are: how soon, how hard. Sadly I am one of the doomsayers and think it will be sooner and harder than you realise.

The calamities do come.
One outsourced job at a time.
Obviously you still haven't lost yours yet.
You will understand better when you personally begin that graveyard spiral towards the bottom.
Oh, give me a frickin' break.  You are shaking in your boots because you are on the top of the pyramid looking down.  My guess is that, to the billions living right now -- today -- at this moment -- on less than $2 a day, the great peak oil end times won't mean much more to them than more struggle, more empty belly.  The same as the day before.  

Sure, I may lose my job, the whole industry I work in may shut down all together (that being higher education...well when the schools close down, I suppose I will be the last to join the roving bands of starving migrant workers).

The resource problems are real, I have no doubt.  It's just that I am willing to  lose it all, if it comes to that (No, I am not volunteering to go first!).  Life is struggle, some times a little more struggle than at other times.  Human societies rise and then fall.  The world is spiky.  So, is the universe, I hear.  Things grow, things flourish, things decay and then die (leaving good compost for future generations -- new species, new oil deposits, I suppose...)

I will suffer, you will suffer, my kids will suffer.  Not that we're doing so great in this age of affluence anyway.  But we certainly are doing better here at the top of the pile than the teaming mulitudes below us who struggle and strain each and every day just to keep us at the top in fast cars, tight jeans, warm homes, with endless varieties of (mostly) degrading entertainments.

How will we suffer some day in the future?  Ask the Oracle of Delphi...Surely she knows!  As for me, careful study, patience and hope for the best, hug my kids, do what I can...Oh yeah, and a good amount of skepticism for the prophets and the oracles, and hucksters and purveyors of fine reptilian oils everywhere.

Yeap this is a point worth thinking very deeply upon.

I think there is quite a lot of overreacting in the peakoil community. It is normal because people lose their sense of security and feel like the world is falling apart... but take a different approach and it might turn that the world has been falling apart up until now, and maybe it is now the time it is starting to get back to normal. of course painfully, but any change is painful. However I think overreacting is not necesserrily a bad thing. There you go - tomorrow we discover nuclear fusion and we live in a forever growing society. But it can also play the Kunstler's way and people start killing each other on the streets. I give them roughly the same probability. And there comes the most probable middle way which after all may not turn out to be that bad (if you do not count the humiliation of the USA going under as a sky-falling event - it is but mostly to our ego).

It is important though to keep our minds open and not to ignore facts contradicting our predefined perceptions. I get the feeling that in this case you somehow cut off the worst case scenarious, just like some of us tend to cut off the positive and the gray ones. I mean that suffering in the way you describe is one, but people killing each other is somehow beyond it... in a land where nobody would rather be.

Its a limited hangout for sure, the vidscreens are being forced to admit the bleeding obvious to retain their credibility - we can only take so much conflict with reality without a new pair of shoes.
Watch as 'apparent inadequacies' feed 'growing concern', leading to 'bipartisan initiatives' and 'a renewal of democracy'.

If they were serious they'd implement transperancy of govt (and of any corp. sucking on the govt teat), all accept the median wage, and many sitting Rep's & officials would hand themselves directly over to police for holding until a Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be set up.

Instead the circus will roll on, to duller, more legal settings, one or possibly dozens of front men will go down, and 'democracy' (really plutocracy) will last and last (but teach habeas corpus to your kids, they may be able to get it back one day).

Ms. Noonan can only peg what's going on to the "whole ball of wax," then tries to list off a litany of concrete things, of worries that are currently facing the U.S., but these types of things have always confronted us.  Pick any decade and check what's going on and you'll see equivalent turmoil or worse.  These aren't the days of, say, WWII.

What I see in the article, what I think she's trying to get at, is a more global problem than just peak oil.  It's the sense that business as usual, the way we as a people and a nation approached the world, is ending. The old ways of doing things, culturally, environmentally, economically, politically, the ways we are comfortable with regardless of how unhealthy they are, can't be the basis for society moving forward. There are too many people living unsustainably, too many powerful weapons floating around, the environment is getting damaged, fossil fuels are running out, civic life and culture are in shambles... the system is strained to the breaking point.  The same thing better, faster, harder, stronger is just going to make things worse, and besides most westerners won't be made happier by just getting more things anymore.  A difficult, major transition is in the pipeline, whether we make the necessary changes or try to fight them.  

What I'm trying to figure out is, how do we go about this transition so that it minimizes damage and loss of human life, what do we transition to (economic systems other than capitalism, for example, have been egregious failures) and how do we persuade people that it's necessary so that they don't grab on to the latest worry of the week and block out the big picture?

economic systems other than capitalism, for example, have been egregious failures

I'm sure somebody has said that for the feudalism too :) I can dream of some arrangements but most probably a long period of probes and errors will determine which one will be best.
The other question actually is more vital - how to minimize the cost and the loss of human knowledge during the transition. I can not think of anything better than just keeping your mind as open as possible. I think that if we don't get to wars we'll get thorough it and much easier than we imagine now.

economic systems other than capitalism, for example, have been egregious failures

TWO things wrong with this line:
  1. It presumes that ALL economic systems that could be invented, have been invented. This is absurd.

  2. It assumes that pure capitalism is practiced somewhere in this world. It is not. Lassize faire capitalism was abandoned in favor of government regulated types throughout the world soon after the industrial revolution began and women & children died in sweatshop lockups (ie the Triangle Shirt Factory fire) --and we are seeing the same evolution in China. The arguments around the world today revolve around how much government regulation there should be: European style "socialism" or American style "Republicanism" (free trade, outsourcing, free offshore drilling, ANWR, all that good stuff).

The capitalist system is incapable of detecting or dealing with END-of-GROWTH scenarios such as Peak Oil. A true, compound-interest capitalist must DENY that END-of-GROWTH is possible, or that we as a society need to start aggressively dealing with its implications.
No human "system" is capable of dealing with end-of-growth scenarious, because the sole purpose of any system is growth <=> living better.

The desired equilibrium with nature may not be achieved by any human built system - it requires anti-systematic correction mechanism per se; I think we've always had that mechanism around in the face of the quite forgotten word moral. Moral is highly irrational at personal/systematic level while it is absolutely necessarry for the long-term stability of the system. I can argue that the last truly moralled (or sustainable) societies died along with the native indians. Today's version of the Christian moral is as good as the clothes we wear - just for the show, it is not coming from the bottom but is being projected (I may also say consumed) as a show for the public.

If we can come up with something stable it would need to be both a system (organisation) and both anti-system (moral that keeps the system from crossing the long-term sustainability threshold). For me these 2 sides are best approximated by Yang and Yin principles from the Chinese philosphy. Here is an interesting read:

All opposites that one experiences--health and sickness, wealth and poverty, power and submission--can be explained in reference to the temporary dominance of one principle over the other. Since no one principle dominates eternally, that means that all conditions are subject to change into their opposites.


I can suggest that our overshoot problem comes from the more general domination of Yang (maleness, change, creativity, rationality) versus Yin (femaleness, security, irrationality).

Thank you. Yours is the first thoughtful analysis I've seen in a long time about this question.

Perhaps we can have a system that inherently oscillates between growth and shrinkage (what you call Yin & Yang) so that it biases itself around a sustainable middle.

Referring to the Biblical story of Joseph, what if we had a social order that intentially allowed for 7 growth years followed by 7 fallow years, over and over again. We would have to have a social order that intentionally seeks shrinkage before it can allow renewed "growth". A winter and a summer. Year after business year. Interesting. Something to ponder over.

Well, let's take that thought one step forward. Assume a business corporation grows for 7 years, and there is a law requiring it to split in half after 7 years of growth and to divest part of its growth dividends into some charitable fund. A forced shrinkage if you will. Then each of the reduced two halves is allowed to grow if they can; or one dies and the other continues. ... where does that lead? not sure yet.

When you think of it we are already doing something like this with (what is considered healthy for the society) switching of power between "left" and "right" political parties; Right emphasizing growth and left aiming social justice.

Maybe the core values we are oscilating around are not the right ones - growth is obvious why; social equality may bring peace within the society itself but does not make it truly sustainable in the long run (and by the way left policies also cause draining of natural capital to feed them).

But if I found a political party claiming we have to live within our bounds (meaning much worse then now) will anyone vote for me? Doubt it very much...

Not sure where to fit this, but since capitalism has been discussed.

First, capitalism has failed/is failing. Pure capitalism was proven to not work faster than communism.
Second, the only reason on one has realized that capitalism does not work is that when such a system fails, it fails open. The system HAS failed. The only reason there has not been change stems from the submission of the lower-class to be lower-class. The ideological superstructure is used to justify their poverty; "you are poor because you are lazy". It is all too easy to craft legimate scenarios where a person is impoverished due to outside forces. Likewise, many people get rich because of chance. Until now, disreguarding chance it has been possible to lead a middle-class lifestyle, which kept most of the people happy. Now that the middle-class is eroding, we shall see how stable the capitalist system is.

I think that was part of Jared Diamond's answer in Guns, Germs & Steel as to why the Spanish Conquistadors were able to overcome the Inca Empire. It wasn't because they were of "superior" intellect or less "lazy". They were dumb lucky. Inside their bodies they harbored a colony of small pox germs to which their ancestors had built up an immunity over the centuries. The Incas had never encountered such a germ strain. The "Germs" conquered America and the Conquistadors took undesrved credit for it.
We will see how the Conquistador's Capitalist children show their "smarts" when the avian influenza pandemic strikes. Who do you think will tiumph this time, Adam Smith or the mutated bird germs?
Capitalism is a great system for exploiting plentiful new resources.  The rewards go to those who can turn resources into capital fastest.

I suspect it's not going to work in a resource-constricted world, where the goal will be lowering production rather than maximizing it.


Capitalism is a great system for exploiting plentiful new resources.
By that, do you mean resources which are under-used?
I suspect it's not going to work in a resource-constricted world
There is no shortage of solar energy or wind power, just the technologies needed to tap them to best advantage.  This situation is tailor-made for rapid scientific and technological advance driven by market demand.

The same is true for many other things.  Carbon nanotubes have turned out to be better conductors than copper.  In the fairly near future, we could see the conversion of long-haul AC power lines using aluminum conductors to DC lines (required to overcome inductance issues) using nanotube conductors.  If you recycle enough aluminum cable, prices could go down and supplies up.

In a world where we've been pumping fossil fuels into the atmosphere for two centuries, one thing we cannot run out of is carbon.

In the end, it comes down to energy.  We can do anything...if we have enough energy.  The problem is we won't have enough energy.  We'll be too busy trying to feed our population (not to mention control them) to have much left over for R&D.

This is why societies collapse.  They run out of the energy necessary to maintain their complexity.  It doesn't mean they run out of energy entirely; they just no longer have enough.  

That depends on what people do.  The pertinent shortages are world oil and North American natural gas; hydro may be affected by drought but isn't going away, coal isn't going away, and we have lots of room for expansion of wind and nuclear.  Solar is actually cheaper than gasoline when you look at the price of energy delivered to the wheels.

Oil is used primarily for transportation.  Hybrids have proven that we can cut fuel requirements at least 50%, and the CalCars group has further shown that a very large fraction of the remaining energy requirement can be met by electricity.  Electric propulsion moves energy demand from the supply which is contracting to the ones which are expanding.

Yes, we can screw things up.  No, we don't have to.

We are going to have to simplify.  That doesn't mean it will be worse, but it will be different.  We will be aiming for contraction, and then steady-state, instead of the constant growth capitalism requires.  And the reason is that there's an energy overhead to complexity, which we will no longer be able to afford.  

As the ASPO newsletter from a couple of months ago said, "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

there's an energy overhead to complexity, which we will no longer be able to afford.

Out of all the oil we burn in cars and trucks, we get perhaps 190 gigawatts of power out of it (the rest goes to waste heat).  Total US electric consumption in 2004 averaged about 450 GW.

Available US wind power is on the order of 1200 gigawatts.  EROEI on a wind farm is on the order of 50:1 to 80:1.  Total available wind power world-wide is calculated at 72 ,000 gigawatts, roughly 5 times total human energy consumption.  The potential from solar is quite a bit greater.

We don't have to be satisfied with "steady state" for quite a while.

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."
But we can bring the entire world up to western standards of living before calling it quits.
Just a comment. A watt is a rate, not a unit. A watt is 1 Joule per second. In order to express an amount of energy you must talk in watt-hours (effectively a large amount of Joules). I will assume this is what you meant. I agree solar and wind are promising. Especially solar... if one can get over the initial cost outlay (Of course this will happen as the cost of other energy sources increases). Finally, your estimate for the amount of energy used by vehicles in the United States seems a bit too small.
Never lecture a physics nut about physics, the correction is bound to bore you to tears. ;-)
A watt is a rate, not a unit. A watt is 1 Joule per second. In order to express an amount of energy you must talk in watt-hours (effectively a large amount of Joules).
And we use oil at a rate of ~20 million barrels/day, which at 6.1 GJ/bbl is 1.41 TW.  The actual useful power produced (rather than lost as heat in exhausts and cooling systems) is much smaller.

There is method in my madness; I use these units for good reason.  Peak oil is a crisis of rate of production, not total quantity producible.  To meet demand, we must be able to produce the same or more power from something; wind is capable of supplying that much, and it has the virtue of being inexhaustible.

I still can't figure out these ~$2/gal fuel prices that have been this way for weeks now after what those 2 hurricanes did to the Gulf.  Just doesn't add up..
We focus on peak oil and gas here, but there are many converging trends pointing to a darker future.  In the long run global climate change, for example, will be a much larger issue.  Peggy at least does a nice job conveying the underlying apprehension that so many feel, whatever issues one focuses on.  

My wife and I just had our first anniversary, and she is pushing the issue of having children.  All I can think about is:  should I bring one or more children into a world like this?  If the economy goes to crap--or the "trolley comes of the tracks"--will we be able to support them?  These are not the sort of thoughts that a young couple with advanced professional degrees and good jobs are supposed to contemplate.  

It's all rather depressing.  No wonder no one wants to talk, or report, about it.  

How many millions of kids have come into this world only to struggle in ways their parents didn't intend or imagine.  Yet, stuggle they did!  Many went on to have fantastic lives and wonderful kids of their own!  Many of us are products of those kids (well, maybe a few generations removed)...I for one am greatful that my family has what it has.  My kids have a great chance in life...even if it does go to crap and my wife and I really have to struggle to see them to adulthood.

There's no secret human contract with the future that promises milk and honey to all for all time.  Be thankful for what you have, teach your kids to be thankful too (not an easy task for us affluent ones, I'm afraid).  Be prepared for tough times and enjoy the good times you have been given.  It's a blessing to be around in these days.  

I was just looking at mortality statistics from 1931.  Then the infant mortality rate was about 66/1000 births.  It's now about 6.6/1000.  Should families have had babies back then with such a high probability of not making the 1st birthday?  (For African-Americans it was 96/1000 in 1931, nearly 1 in 10!)

I just want to note that milk and honey causes diabetes and obesity. It is the hard time that can show who you are.

Was Gloomy now I'm not...

I never had thought that of late,
Your gloom would up and dissipate.
    But now that you've said it,
    What deserves the credit?
Curiosity you must sate!
Very nice :)
I could never imagine an inner view without the curiosity; I'd expect it to be a life-long torture.
I was trying to speak for all the people who wonder why you're not gloomy any more.  Gonna tell us what happened, or leave us hanging?
I think this is the normal evolution of accepting the PO phenomenon... Firstly I was quite shocked, and there were times I felt so desparate about it; at other moments - the opposite extreme (oh, sure we'll think of something).

Now I think the emotional phase is over and it's time for the acceptance/analysis phase. I already tend to think that we sure will come up with the solutions, though we'll have quite a hard time until then; I am even glad this is happening in my lifetime because PO is solvable - there is plenty of energy around and also we could live with a lot less than now; what if we the first boundary to break was GW? or soil depletion? how would I have explained it to my kids? (I still don't have kids but some day for sure).

Another thing that researching PO gives me is the sense of being part of the eternity - the eternal cycle of life and death, ups and downs - and of course all of this is for good. So why be gloomy, since only good things are happening?


Much as I hate to agree, you make a good point. There are certain areas in which capitalism has been an astounding success. Thoughtful people understand that "money" will probably never go away because we need some medium of exchange and a way to evaluate what we humans "value" and what we do not.

Clearly in some areas such as medicine, we have made tremendous strides forward.

Of course, in Daufur, babies are not enjoying the high mortality rates you speak of. And I do not buy for a minute (let alone contemplate purchasing) this rationale about Bad Stuff Happens. That is just Sh*t Logic.

Let me give you an example of where good-ole-capitalism fails even here in good-ole-USA, here in California:

This morning, across the front page of a major Silicon Valley newspaper is a story about a 21 year old young man who is dead because The Hospital accidentally injected poison (chemotherapy) into his spine.

The "system" (legal system) insists that everyone remain mum about how this "accident" happened. It's called a settlement agreement.

In truth, there was no "accident". It was a train wreck waiting to happen. Insurance companies push hospitals to "cut costs". (Something econonmists call "efficiency".) Hospitals push floor managers into cutting staff, raising patient to nurse ratios, and forcing older, higher paid nurses to retire so that costs can be lowered (and so that the passing of knowledge from older generation nurses to young'ins can stop). In the rush for all this "economic efficiency", the young man died. "Accidentally."

Only the few inside the medical system know.
I guess the acceptable answer is, Oh well, Shit Happens.

Tell that to the young man's family.
Tell that to the next family that is going to get run over by the "efficiency" train.

It's kind of the same with Peak Oil.
The train wreck is coming.

"Sh*t happens" is not an acceptable excuse.

If you would accept an advice: go for it! Don't think in the there-is-no-future way, it leads to nowhere. There is a future - but simply it would not be as bright as the present (maybe).

I lived through a catastorphic currency crisis in my country. It was hard, for some people even almost desparate (this was through one long and cold winter) - no gas, no oil just hungry people around. But I never thought "Gosh, I wish I was not born", and I'm pretty sure that nobody did. The same I think with your child - maybe he will be one of those that leads us to a more human-like sustainable future, who knows? Nothing is as hard as we imagine. And I'm not even sure that sayng good bye to our way of life will be something bad.

Was Gloomy now I'm not...

Worldwide, reproduction rates are lowest among the people with the best educations, the most resources, and the ability to teach children how to contribute in the future. All sorts of tacit knowledge is lost when those people don't have kids.

Have a family, and teach them to give something back.

I agree with your basic point, with the caveat that many of the people you speak of also have the most unrealistic expectations of the future and are likely to pass those on to their kids. I see too many well-off kids of educated parents growing up with a sense that the world owes them a living and that they really shouldn't have to work hard in order to live the consumer lifestyle. They've been given far too much too soon by well-meaning parents and not had many (if any) real responsibilities.

I would say having kids is a good idea if you are going to teach them to be realistic about the kind of world they'll be living in and about the contributions to it that they'll need to make. Raising kids with a well developed sense of duty toward the greater good, with as many practical skills as possible, and with a real understanding of how the essentials of their own existence are provided for is helpful. Raising another generation of consumers with no real skills, no understanding of the complexity (and inherent vulnerabilities) of their lifesupport system and a well-developed sense of entitlement is not.

Spoiling kids now is sad. It may be tempting, but it can set them up to consider the rest of their lives (in an energy and wealth constrained world) as a disappointment. Kids don't need to be surrounded by material wealth to be happy, and those who are not won't miss it when it's gone for most (if not all) of us.

It helps to raise them in a rural area where they are not constantly having their noses rubbed in the possessions and lifestyle of urban or suburban peers. They're less likely to fall prey to the herd mentality that way as well. When the herd panics, as it will in a financial/energy/health/natural disaster crisis, those living outside it and seeing it for what it is will be less tempted to over-react and thereby magnify the effects of crisis.

I would also add not letting kids watch TV (especially in North America!) as an important factor in raising a thinking child who is not part of the herd. TV creates passive and credulous kids with a short attention span who need to be entertained all the time. It's also an instrument for conveying mass-hysteria effectively in times of crisis.
One issue with having kids in a rural area is that schools are often inferior to those in the best suburbs.  Other than that, I largely agree.
To JLA (a.k.a. newlywed, a.k.a. scared to become a dad):
JLA, This is way off topic, but don't be scared. Having children is one of the most wonderful things that happens in a person's life. There is no way of explaining it in words. Once you have children, you will be different; the whole world will be different for you. Who knows, it may give you a reason to make the world a better place for all the rest of us. Go for it.

As for the coming "Peak Oil Storm", the future is not cast in stone. None of us knows what is going to happen. If a giant meteor comes and blows up the whole planet, then all our worrying about PO was for naught. If some college professor invents cold fusion for real, then all the worrying was for naught. So put it in perspective. Live your life. Have children. Grow old, wise and be prosperous. Peace.

Re: Peggy Noonan's remarks

So ironic that one of the architects of our decline now has something to say about it. See this rant here and also this one about the decline of American culture.

Jimmy Carter knew the energy future in 1979 and Reagan (with Noonan, others) led us down the garden path we're still on some 25 years later after 1980.... It's a little too late to observe that the Decline & Fall of The American Empire is imminent since we are irreversibly immersed in it. Sorry about the pessimism but I've seen no hopeful signs. A pity she doesn't mention oil depletion and our energy dependence...
I just wonder what would be different now if Carter had had his way and an energy program would have been realized?

What did the other countries do, Japan and the Europeans? The gasoline taxes are higher. Oil is used less per capita. But the overall energy situation is worse than in the US. Alternatives are marginal. The share of rail transport is small. Public transport is better but has not been developing much. World oil consumption could be about 10% lower, but probably not, because oil prices would have been far lower for a long time and consumption would have risen globally. The real effect might have been a more even ditribution of oil usage in the world, which would of course be good. The US economic growth would have been lower. There are no easy fixes.

When somebody like Peggy Noonan starts really worrying, it is should catch attention. For a revolution to happen it is not enough that the ruled do not want to be ruled any more, but also the rulers must lose the ability to rule any more. This is what Noonan is talking about: the US elite is resigned, it is not willing or capable to rule like before. The problems are overwhelming and the elite cannot tackle them any more.

I see the Bush government as exceptional. It has had very strong backing of the power elite. Bush has been virtually immune for all critizism. We could say that the US power elite (and the European, too) has given him full, unrestricted mandate to realize his program. They knew that this program was extremely arrogant and risky, a really desperate one. It was about destroying the traditional international and also the US domestic political system. This program seems to be failing now. The wheels are falling off. I read Noonan saying that the elite has no alternatives  left. Just resignation. We could see this happening in the Europe also. The European Union has stalled. The efforts to get economic growth back have failed.

Here we see the effects of oncoming energy crisis. It is not only felt at the gasoline pump but everywhere.


The difference is only for the USA. From european point of view what we have done here is an absolute madness. It is indeed a disaster waiting to happen; and actually happening already as we saw in the case of Kathrina.

I know countries like Lithuania that have been cut-off from oil supply for months. Nobody died. May I be certain about that here? I doubt it... stop private transportation for a month and people will not be able to go to work, not even go to the store and buy food. Anybody there willing to try that? Just a simulation - a month in USA without oil. If we experience a major disruption of supply for the rest of the world it would result in severe depression and inconveniences... But people have build the way of life and the infrastructure to handle force majore situations. The lack of experience with real crises in US has made us much more vulnerable and detached from reality.

Oh so that is What I have been feeling a Lot of for a while now!

She asked What the rest of us were doing about this feeling,  The ones that seem to know what is going to happen but not when, have learned something very important.


 Just go on with life, you can't do anything about it.

 Which might even be a good last line for her piece as well.

 I do foot work in finding household items for Katrina victims that my chruch has sponsored.  

2 months out, some are still barely getting by, being told by the government to do things that they can't do, because mud still covers those papers they are suppose to file.

 Mrs Leta L.  Told me this today " The rich sections of town had their pumps turned on, while our sections didn't. They figured it'd flood anyway why bother. "

 She and I discussed a lot of things today in our travels, and she knows the jig is about up, and she is learning how to ignore the coming storm.

 I fear a lot of heads have been joining all the others in the sand.

but I said, "Yeah, but it's also the fear parents have that we're at the end of something, and they want their kids to have good memories. They're buying them good memories, in this case the joy a kid feels right down to her stomach when the earrings are taken out of the case."

What a load of BS! I have a little daughter I love to spoil, but the reason for that is that she is such a very sweet girl, not a feeling that we're "at the end of something".
Fear the hurricanes
Fear the terrorists
Fear the bird flu
Why is it that the old phrase "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" is never mentioned anymore.
You want security in the America of tomorrow?
Buy a shotgun
No.  Buy a Glock.  At least according to this guy, who wrote about what an economic collapse looks like.
Why did the SHTF in 2001 in Argentina and isn't our USA el Presidente' over there right now making things more right than ever before?

Thank you for the link. It's a very scary read.

Basically, what happened in Argentina was what many fear will happen here: a currency crisis.

I hear this all the time and I just do not like Glocks. More than half the people I know who bought Glocks got rid of them. Why? They are very nice guns but they are extremely lightweight compared to other handguns. Why does this matter? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When firing a handgun, the mass of the handgun helps to soak up some of that recoil. Firing a Glock, you get more recoil than firing a metal weapon. The tradeoff is how the gun weighs on you for long carry situations. The Glock is ideal for that but I've found that even big men who do not shoot a great deal generally do not like the Glock due to the recoil differences.

In my opinion, one of the best firearms out there are the Taurus auto pistol series (PT92/PT99 and variants) based on the Beretta line that the US military deploys. The Taurus has a lifetime warranty (won't matter in a collapse but is nice until a collapse occurs) and it is available in several of the better calibers for such a weapon. My preferred caliber is the .40S&W but the 9mm is very popular. One line of thinking goes that 9mm ammo will be more plentiful in a collapse scenario than .40S&W ammo due to military and police stockpiles. The deadliest handgun I've seen is the 10mm, which kicks like a .45 ACP but shoots as flat as a 9mm.

Anyway, selecting survival firearms is an entirely separate discussion and probably not appropriate here, so I'll stop for now.

I have extremely limited hands-on experience with firearms.  I fired a 22 rifle at a target range once, and used another cast member's Ruger (w/o the firing pin) as a theatre prop, and that's about it.  Is there a good instructional website about handguns?
People don't like hearing this but aside from political activism, the NRA is a superb firearms instruction organization, running numerous clinics and training sessions around the country. Also, almost every state has a state level organization that is affiliated with the NRA. Your best bet in seeking training for a specific kind of firearm might be to contact that organization in your state. For example, in Texas it is the Texas State Rifle Association.

You can probably find links to such state level organizations on the web via Google or Yahoo if you search. There are also formal training academies, usually taught by former FBI or military personnel. The Chapman Academy is one of the oldest and most successful of these and has been around for almost 30 years.

If you must, buy a rifle, and use it to hunt for food. When it gets to the point that walking down the street becomes a wild west shooting fest, moving might be in order. A handgun is unlikely to improve your quality of life, and it puts family, friends, and neighbors at risk.
I have this image of thousands of gun ignoramuses, like myself, walking into the nearest clump of trees, shooting anything and everything. Not too safe.  

I live in a town where two out of three guys are avid hunters, where junior high school kids take Buck Day and Doe Day as a holiday, and where many of my wife's HS students, male and female, write about loving their guns in their student journals. So I'm already at risk.

I found that wikipedia answered my basic questions about caliber, stopping power, etc.  

Did you read the link I posted?  He talks about why he doesn't like Tauruses.  

You don't have to get a Glock, but he does recommend a pistol, not a revolver.  And definitely not a rifle or shotgun.  As he points out, it's probably not going to be business as usual vs. reptile aliens invading the earth.  It will be somewhere in between.  You need something you can carry with you to work, to the bank, to the store.  And something you can hide from the government, when they try to ban guns and ammo.

I always thought pistols were divided into revolvers and automatics, so I was suprised to see "pistol" used as a synonym for non-revolver.
Uh... Did you read the link you posted? He complains about a Taurus revolver not the automatic pistols in the PT92 and PT99 categories. In fact, he doesn't even cover those. And further, he recommends the Berettas, of which the Taurus is a completely legitimate and licensed copy of the same design. He also ignores the recoil issue of the Glocks, probably because it doesn't matter personally to him, but as I said, it has mattered to numerous people I know who have bought (and subsequently got rid of) Glocks.

He gives the same assessment on the .40S&W as I did (better round but less popular). And he makes some recommendations about pistol caliber rifles and SMGs, which is interesting reading based on his experiences in a country that has been dangling from a pike for a while.

The problem the Elites have is they have been making money by perpetuating problems, not solving them. They have now come to a point where they have to actually spend, not invest, their own money to keep the wheels from falling of. They are having to face what working families have experienced for decades, that is lower and lower spending power.
Wow. Even "Business Week" sees some of the wheels falling off. According to a recent advance, they have a story:

Thirty & Broke
It used to be a college education was an investment in a prosperous future. But due to the high cost of tuition and early credit card debt, many graduates can now only see troubling financial times ahead.
Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly:

If I had to choose one single thing as the most important determinant of a genuinely strong economy, it would be median wage growth. After all, if median wages are increasing smartly, it's a sure bet that the economy as a whole is growing too and everyone -- including Donald Trump -- is doing well. It's quite possible to have strong GDP growth that still leaves two-thirds of the country stagnant -- which is roughly what's happened for the past 30 years -- but it's almost impossible to have strong median wage growth and not also have a booming economy.