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« Not that surprising, actually | Main | One-party rule »

Aug 29, 2009


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Not to be flip, but it seems that our persistence in making that the most important question is what keeps getting us in to trouble?


It is probably going to be something fascinating and currently seemingly outrageous. Modern human history is replete with such unexpected kick starts: Discovery of the "New World," steam engines, electricity, internal combustion engines, human flight, the space age, computers, the internet. Something just as revolutionary is out there and right around the corner.

I'd guess some practical harnessing of fusion power.

David Boyd

How is it a trick question because he doesn't know the answer? Perhaps he thinks consumer spending is all that can power economic growth. But as a wise man I bet he was open to being wowed with some visionary idea.

Ed Cone

GO, we've got double-digit unemployment. You don't need to be addicted to old models of growth to believe that people need productive work. That's the issue here.

DB, he's a name you'd recognize, and he's actually pretty sharp. He doesn't think consumer spending is the only thing, he just knows that it's been the engine of growth, and he knows the problems with that system are not small. We talked about some other things (e.g., business spending), but he didn't see them as being sustainable in the near term, either.

Roch, you're conflating two concepts -- paradigm-shifting discoveries, and more routine economic drivers. It usually takes a long time for the former to become the latter.


"Roch, you're conflating two concepts -- paradigm-shifting discoveries, and more routine economic drivers." -- Ed

No I am not. You may disagree or hope I am wrong, but I am suggesting that the recovery from our current economic slump will not be a "routine driver" but a big discovery. I would further suggest that the time-to-live of the impact of modern inventions is accelerating, my first example, the discovery of the New World taking centuries to bring about broad economic growth; my last, the internet* just years.

* Which I measure from the "discovery" of its use for commercial purposes.


It ain't going to happen in the short term - globally. A return in certain locales will 'resemble' improvement.

Longer out, I think Roch is on the right page. See DARPA and Navy's LENR programs. NOTHING 'grows' without energy.

But there's several cards that nations have, that will be played before then. I'd guess that page is 50 years out, optimistically. Pessimistically it could happen in 5 years.

For all the hype, there will be crude production declines. That will mean some serious austerity.

see this production graph.
Will a crack appear ? Not today, we'll see tomorrow.


I don't know all of the answer but I know part of it. It's called W2EPC and people should be talking about bringing it to White Street in Greensboro. (And I'm not talking about Mayor Johnson's recent scam.)

I can also tell you that more development for development's sake will not solve our economic problems. I'm still amazed at the fools touting development as a tool for economic growth when it was unchecked development that caused the meltdown.


maybe soon they'll find a way to unkill the goose that laid all those eggs and bring those killers to justice. until they do we have three options in GSO:

a national law firm franchise which specializes in cases where employees and subs get their feelings hurt at work...hurt enough to bring real tears and WMD's to work.

beside the Natural Science Center on Lawndale Drive, open an Unnatural Science Center. this center will display the contrived methods of circumventing natural law and the consequences.

This center will have displays that explain why some of the inventions and discoveries, which our friend Roch mentioned, led to malinvestment, huge speculative bubbles and arduous shakeouts. It will also display how human nature is immune to all natural law, though every particle and wavelength in the universe abides by it without the need of any type of human legislation.

The last venture would be a Supernatural Science Center. Displays would include how Greensboro was created from a Big Bang, why Randolph County remains a black hole and how Melvinites became the chosen people.

As soon as government has the control of all production and distribution, our economic problems will be over. When government has absolute control over human energy, there will be no more head scratching.

On the other hand, the big discovery may be only a rediscovery, of ourselves. Naw. that was stupid.


Ed - I'm just questioning the addiction to trying to find the next big economic engine (aerotropolis, anyone..or is it biotech...or is it alternative energy...or is it ecotourism). And, again, not to be flip, but what is inherently wrong with double-digit unemployment. It's one number of many we can focus on, but what picture does that really tell? If you look at underemployment or underqualified employment, I'm sure those numbers are higher. Why can't we be okay with a very, very slow recovery and less than vigorous growth. Outside of the U.S and other modern countries, this is the case. I'm just sayin....


Roch - are you alluding to solar cells to harness the power of fusion?


winstongator, actually, I was thinking of some kind of "cold fusion" -- as I said, I think what is coming is something that currently seems outrageous. It might be something already discovered but which finally breaks into the realm of the feasible, like Billy's waste to energy plasma converter above or something not even in our collective consciousness yet. My "gut" is that it will be in energy, but it could be some wild advance in medicine or some other field.

For what it is worth, I do not have my usually required empirical evidence for expecting this. It is a sense gathered from a very unscientific mish-mash of anecdotes, wave theory and that little voice inside my head.


which came first, the spending or the growth? consumers were not doing the spending. banks were doing the spending through lending. banks were making loans for the spending using money which wasn't backed by a deposit or commodity. when you subtract the final part of the growth equation, which is debt, you have a net deficit. so i guess what you guys are looking for is a way to reinflate the past model. let's examine the efforts so far. $$$$ for clunkers, 8k taxbreak for certain home buyers, low rates, $200 for old fridges is coming up. After all these efforts, banks and consumers are still stuffing
their mattresses with FRNs.

Now the deficit problem. Government has no revenue yet it still finds cash to stimulate with. It borrows this money from taxpayers. Then it pays the interest on the money with taxes it will collect tommorrow. This is done for the day after tomorrow and so on and on until all future production of goods and services are consumed before they exist. This is Keynesianism. It will eat your plasma converter and fart cold fusion before you can say feudalism. This is why the 5 main macro models or monetary policy are not taught in public schools. You would need one resource officer per student to keep the panic stricken student from killing himself with a pencil or overdosing on his mood altering medication.

Ed Cone

GO, I know you don't mean to be flip, even without you saying so, but theory doesn't put food on the table. The same caveat applies to Roch.

I'm with you both in the big picture, but human beings live in a smaller frame. Our lifespans are limited, our daily needs are real. Postulating about cold fusion and asking if it's really so bad that more than one in ten people who want to find work cannot do so seems almost cruel when offered in response to real-time issues.

In a sense, we're all agreeing here -- the dreamers and the businessman -- that the model that got us here seems to have run its course, and that just reinflating the bubble is no answer. Everyone's asking, what comes next?

It's great to work toward answers that change the game (and important to understand that those inevitably will cause new problems, too). In fact, I'd argue that it's essential to do so. But big-think alone doesn't meet real needs.

M. Simon

Polywell Fusion.



When you get that new fridge, don't forget I can buy your old fridge for recycling.

PS. If you haven't sold your copper be prepared to hold it a while longer as I'm expecting another copper crash any day now.


Polywell is conventional as determined by it's boron-11 and proton fuel issues. Given the Aneutronic fusion essence it's hardly better than conventional nuclear if one considers capital costs and regulatory hurdles in todays circumstance.

There is already work that is called 'outrageous' because the conventional model doesn't consider one of it's elements - consciousness. Here's a review from the most recent book that lays out the science:

In strikingIn striking contrast with many books focused on next-generation physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, or medicine, Conscious Acts of Creation combines a brilliant theoretical model with several rigorous experiments that explore the influence of human intention on physical reality - in living as well as inanimate systems. It is in these convincing demonstrations that the principle "as above, so below" comes to life. Even more profoundly, the book establishes that repetition of the experiments in given locales can dramatically increase the power of the locales to reproduce the results - with some locales retaining their conditioning or "charge" for more than a year! These findings lend plausibility to that which mystics know as "sacred space."

A postulated theoretical model provides a launch point for interpreting the experimental results. Its major cornerstone is an eight-dimensional biconformal base space with two four-dimensional, Fourier transform related subspaces. One subspace corresponds to our everyday world, whereas the other subspace is a reciprocal or inverse "etheric" space - roughly analogous to k-space but with additional postulated properties including superluminal "velocities" (presumably in inverse units) and interchanged roles of electricity and magnetism. The model incorporates nonlocality, a scientific principle that may someday prove to be the underpinning for phenomena such as parapsychology and distant healing. Furthermore, the authors note similarities between their model and models proposed by other scientists, some highly prominent. Granted, the model becomes more speculative when it associates even higher dimensionalities with emotion, mind, and spirit. Even then, however, it remains consistent with various esoteric teachings, and it may yet provide the empowering mechanism for manifestation of intention (where the two subspaces, in some ways mutually symmetric, appear to play asymmetric roles) and in otherwise connecting science with spirit. Readers who disagree with the postulated model will nonetheless benefit from the authors' brilliant insights.

The old physics first has to give up it's blinders and I expect a lot of pain of all sorts before that happens.


Well, Ed, the question was what could power vigorous growth absent consumer spending. You disqualify the answers offered, so either all is lost or there is some alternative. Please enlighten us.

Fec the Jihadist

The Piedmont Triad Partnership will save our bacon. That's why proceeds from the Wyndham should be handed over in perpetuity.


bill: my wife buys everything on sale except cars and frigifrators. She tried to wash a plastic hanger 3 weeks ago and burned up a perfectly good 15 year old clothes washer. she bought the display model to save 75$. she put 270k on a honda accord before giving it to my son. she destroyed the credit based economy singlehandedly.

the stuff i'm holding, much of it from 1975 on, is going to take a hit. Commitment of Traders on Friday showed hedge funds and small traders 20:1 long the CRB. When that herd is that positive, i move into the bunker until the crocs, lions and hyenas have their way with them.


nitnpickr, Don't you just hate plastics? I know I do. A steel hanger would have banged around making enough noise to alert her to check for a problem and call you to come unwrap the hanger from the agitator.

But hey, I'll still pay you for your old washer even if it doesn't work.


"There must be 50 ways to leave your lover.


I'm with Roch on this one Ed...scrambling to meet short term needs is a perpetual motion merry go round. A continual reliance on short-term thinking without taking into account (not just considering)long-term consequences is more expensive in the long-run. I don't doubt this requires a slower, longer recovery with less vigorous growth and some painful transitions (and I would argue our current 7% savings rate shows that we are all already making the transition to a different future), but let's spend more resources on longer-term planning, rather than misallocating the disproportionate amount of limited funds on short-term fixes (aerotropolis). I'd be curious if planning for the aerotropolis is building in flexible use for the post-aerotropolis era (i.e., 20-30 years from now).

Ed Cone

I don't see anyone arguing in favor of short-term thinking, or of acting without consideration for long-term outcomes.

For whatever reasons, you are choosing to read a question about finding the underpinnings of a healthy economy as a brief for an unhealthy one.

While you and Roch are waiting on cold fusion, there's work to be done.

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