Jim Quinn: Lies Across America

Yves here. While Quinn has a deliberately (some might say overly) provocative style and I quibble with some of his supporting arguments, his overarching observation, that America is wedded to an economic model past its sell by date, and that model has damaging social
and political consequences, is one I believe will resonate with many readers.

From Jim Quinn, who writes at The Burning Platform

Every single empire, in its official discourse, has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. – Edward Said

The increasingly fragile American Empire has been built on a foundation of lies. Lies we tell ourselves and Big lies spread by our government. The shit is so deep you can stir it with a stick. As we enter another holiday season the mainstream corporate mass media will relegate you to the status of consumer. This is a disgusting term that dehumanizes all Americans. You are nothing but a blot to corporations and advertisers selling you electronic doohickeys that they convince you that you must have. Propaganda about consumer spending being essential to an economic recovery is spewed from 52 inch HDTVs across the land, 24 hours per day, by CNBC, Fox, CBS and the other corporate owned media that generate billions in profits from selling advertising to corporations schilling material goods to thoughtless American consumers. Aldous Huxley had it figured out decades ago:

Thanks to compulsory education and the rotary press, the propagandist has been able, for many years past, to convey his messages to virtually every adult in every civilized country.

Americans were given the mental capacity to critically think. Sadly, a vast swath of Americans has chosen ignorance over knowledge. Make no mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn’t matter whether you are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country. Sob stories about the disadvantaged poor having no access to education are nothing but liberal spin to keep the masses controlled. There are 122,500 libraries in this country. If you want to read a book, you can read a book. The internet puts knowledge at the fingertips of every citizen. Becoming educated requires hard work, sacrifice, curiosity, and a desire to learn. Aldous Huxley describes the American choice to be ignorant:

Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.

It is a choice to play Call of Duty on your PS3 rather than reading Shakespeare. It is a choice to stand on a street corner looking for trouble rather than reading Hemingway. It is a choice to spend Black Friday in malls fighting other robotic consumers for iSomethings, the latest innovative, advanced TVs, flashy Rolexes, and ostentatious Coach bags rather than spending the day reading Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, a brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning history of the outset of World War I, which would provide insight into what could happen on the Korean Peninsula. It is a choice to watch 6 hours per day of Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, Brainless Housewives of Everywhere, or CSI of Anywhere rather than reading Orwell or Huxley and discovering that their dystopian warnings have come true.

Conspicuous Consumption Conquistadors

Americans have chosen to lie to themselves. They have persuaded themselves that buying stuff with plastic cards while paying 19% interest for eternity, driving BMWs while locked into never ending indecipherable lease schemes, and living in permanently underwater McMansions bought with 0% down on an interest only liar loan, is the new American Dream. They think watching the boob tube will make them smart. They soak in the mass media hype, misinformation and lies like lemmings walking off a cliff. Depending on their political predisposition, they watch Fox or MSNBC and unthinkingly believe the propaganda that pours from the mouths of the multi-millionaire talking heads who read Teleprompters with words written by corporate media hacks. They tell themselves that buying stuff on credit, giving them the appearance of success as measured by the media elite, is actually success. This is a bastardized, manipulated, delusional version of accomplishment. Americans have chosen to believe the lies because the truth is too hard to accept.

Becoming educated, thinking critically, working hard, saving money to buy what you need (as opposed to what you want), developing human relationships, and questioning the motivations of government, corporate and religious leaders is hard. It is easy to coast through school and never read a book for the rest of your life. It is easy to not think about the future, your retirement, or the future of unborn generations. It is easy to coast through life at a job (until you lose it) that is unchallenging, with no desire or motivation for advancement. It is easy to make your everyday troubles disappear by whipping out your piece of plastic and acquiring everything you desire today. If your brother-in-law buys a 7,000 sq ft, 7 bedroom, 4 bath, 3 car garage, monolith to decadence for his family of 3, thirty miles from civilization, with no money down and a no doc Option ARM providing the funds, why shouldn’t you get in on the fun. It’s easy. Why sit around the kitchen table and talk with your kids, when you can easily cruise the internet downloading free porn or recording every trivial detail of your shallow life on Facebook so others can waste their time reading about your life. It is easiest to believe your elected leaders, glorified mega-corporation CEOs, and millionaire pastors preaching the word of God for a “small” contribution to their mega-churches.

Americans love authority figures who act as if they have all the answers. It matters not that these egotistical monuments to folly and hubris (Bush, Obama, Paulson, Geithner, Greenspan, Bernanke) have committed the worst atrocities in the history of our Republic, leaving economic carnage and the slaughter of thousands in their wake. The most dangerous man on this earth is an Ivy League educated, arrogant ideologue who believes they are smarter than everyone else. When these men achieve power, they are capable of producing catastrophic consequences. Once they seize the reigns of authority these amoral psychopaths have no problem lying to the American public in order to achieve their objectives. They know that Americans love to be lied to, so the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.

The current lie proliferating across the land of the free financing and home of the debtor is that austerity has broken out across the land. The mainstream media and the government, aided by various “think tanks” and Federal Reserve propagandists insist that Americans have buckled down, reduced spending, increased savings, and have embraced austerity.

They now proclaim that it is time to spend again. It is the patriotic thing to do, just like defeating terrorists by buying an SUV with 0% down from GM was the patriotic thing to do after 9/11. Defeating terrorists by going further into debt was the brilliant idea of those Ivy League geniuses Bush & Greenspan. Let’s critically examine the facts to determine how austere Americans have become:

* Consumer credit outstanding is $2.41 trillion, the same level reached in early 2007, and up from $1.5 trillion in 2000. This is a 60% increase in ten years. Personal income has risen from $8.4 trillion to $12.6 trillion over this same time frame, a 50% increase. Americans have substituted debt for income in order to keep up with the Joneses. The mass delusion lives.
* The MSM declares that the reduction in overall consumer debt from its peak of $2.56 trillion in 2008 to $2.41 trillion today proves that consumers have been cutting back and paying off debt. This is another media lie. Non-revolving debt, which includes car loans, education loans, mobile home loans and boat loans sits at $1.6 trillion, an all-time high matched in 2008. Credit card debt has “plunged” from $957 billion to $814 billion, not because consumers paid down their balances. The mega Wall Street banks have written off $20 billion per quarter since early 2009, accounting for ALL of the reduction in credit card debt. Clueless consumers continue to charge at the same rate as the peak in 2008.

* Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,788
* There are 609.8 million bank credit cards held by U.S. consumers.
* The U.S. credit card default rate is 13.01%
* In 2006, the United States Census Bureau determined that there were nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space – and be almost as tall as 13 Mount Everests.
* Penalty fees from credit cards added up to about $20.5 billion in 2009.
* The national average default rate as January 2010 stood at 27.88% and the mean default rate is 28.99%.
* Total bankruptcy filings in 2009 reached 1.4 million, up from 1.09 million in 2008. Bankruptcies in 2010 are on pace to exceed 1.6 million.
* 26% of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is at 51%.

Does This Look Like Austerity? Really?


This data clearly proves that austerity has not broken out across the land of delusion. The billions in consumer loan write-offs by the Wall Street banks that run this country have masked the fact that Americans have not cut back on their spending habits at all. GMAC (taxpayer owned) and Ford Credit continue to dish out car loans to anyone with a pulse and a 600 credit score. The Federal Reserve and the FASB have encouraged, if not insisted, that banks fraudulently value the commercial real estate loans on their books. The Federal Reserve has bought $1.5 trillion of toxic mortgage loans from the criminal Wall Street banks at 100 cents on the dollar. The government’s corporate fascist public relations firms then spread the big lie that the economy is recovering and consumers should join the party and spend, spend, spend.

If Americans were capable or willing to do some critical thinking, they would realize that those in power have created the illusion of a recovery by handing $700 billion of your money to the banks that created the financial meltdown, spending $800 billion on worthless pork barrel projects borrowed from future generations, dropping interest rates to 0% so that the mega-Wall Street banks can earn billions risk free while your grandmother who depended on interest income from her CDs edges closer to eating cat food to get by, and lastly Ben Bernanke’s blatant attempt to enrich Wall Street by buying US Treasury bonds in an effort to make the stock market go up, while the middle and lower classes are crushed under the weight of soaring fuel and food price increases that exceed 30% on an annual basis. The illusion of recovery is not a recovery. With a true unemployment rate of 22%, a true inflation rate of 8% and a real GDP of -1.5% (Shadowstats), we are in the midst of the Greater Depression. You are being lied to, but most of you prefer it.

The Little Lies We Tell Ourselves

Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know. – M King Hubbert

When Jimmy Carter gave his malaise speech in 1979, Americans were in no mood to listen. Carter’s solutions were too painful, required sacrifice, and sought to benefit future generations. The leading edge of the Baby Boom generation had reached their 30s by 1979, and the most spoiled, pampered, egocentric generation in history could care less about future generations, long term thinking, or sacrifice for the greater good. They were the ME GENERATION. The 1970s had proven to be tumultuous episode in US history. M King Hubbert’s calculation in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s proved to be 100% correct.


The Arab oil embargo resulted in gas shortages and economic chaos in the U.S. Hubbert used the same method to determine that worldwide oil production would peak in the early 2000s. If long term planning had been initiated in the early 1980s, combining exploration of untapped reserves, greater utilization of natural gas, development of nuclear plants, more stringent fuel efficiency standards, increased taxes on gasoline, and more thoughtful development of housing communities, we would not now face a looming oil crisis within the next few years. Instead of dealing with reality, adapting our behavior and preparing for a more localized society, we put our blinders on, chose ignorance over reason and pushed the pedal to the medal by moving farther away from our jobs, building bigger energy intensive mansions, and insisting on driving tank-like SUVs, Hummers, and good ole boy pickups. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy explained that hyper-consumerism, fear, and inability to use logic have left our suburban oasis lives in danger of implosion when the reality of peak cheap oil strikes:

Besides the innate thirst of SUVs, some of the last quarter century’s surge in U.S. oil consumption has come from Americans driving more – some twelve thousand miles per motorist per year, up almost one – third from 1980 – because they as a whole live farther from work. In consumption terms, exurbia is the physical result of the latest population redistribution enabled by car culture and the electorate that upholds it.

Family values are central – if by this we mean having families and accepting lengthy commutes to install them in reasonably safe and well churched places. In the 1970’s such households might have been fleeing school busing or central city crime; in the post – September 11 era, many sought distance from “godless” school systems or the random violence and terrorist attacks expected to occur in metropolitan areas.

We willingly believe the lies espoused by the badly informed pundits on CNBC and Fox that if we just drill in Alaska and off our coasts, we’ll be fine. The ignorant peak cheap oil deniers insist there are billions of barrels of oil to be harvested from the Bakken Shale, even though there is absolutely no method of accessing this supply without expending more energy than we can access. Environmentalists lie about the dangers of nuclear power, while shamelessly promoting the ridiculous notion that solar, wind and ethanol can make a visible impact on our future energy needs. Ideologues on the right and left conveniently ignore the facts and the truth is lost in a blizzard of their lies. Here is an explanation so clear, even a CNBC “drill baby drill” dimwit could understand:

When oil production first began in the mid-nineteenth century, the largest oil fields recovered fifty barrels of oil for every barrel used in the extraction, transportation and refining. This ratio is often referred to as the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI). Currently, between one and five barrels of oil are recovered for each barrel-equivalent of energy used in the recovery process. As the EROEI drops to one, or equivalently the Net Energy Gain falls to zero, the oil production is no longer a net energy source. This happens long before the resource is physically exhausted.


After the briefest of lulls when oil reached $145 per barrel, Americans have resumed buying SUVs, pickup trucks, and gas guzzling muscle cars. They have chosen to ignore the imminence of peak cheap oil because driving a leased BMW makes your neighbors think you are a success, while driving a hybrid would make your neighbors think you are a liberal tree hugger. It boggles my mind that so many Americans are so shallow and shortsighted. According to Automotive News, at the start of 2008 leasing comprised 31.2% of luxury vehicle sales and 18.7% of non-luxury sales. This proves that hundreds of thousands of wannabes are driving leased BMWs and Mercedes to fill some void in their superficial lives.

I bought a Honda Insight Hybrid six months ago. It gets 44 mpg and will save me $1,500 per year in gasoline costs. I put 20% down and financed the remainder at 0.9% for three years. My payment is $450 per month. I will own it outright in 2 ½ years. I could have leased a 2010 BMW 328i with moonroof, bluetooth, power seats with driver seat memory, lumbar support, leather interior, iPod adapter, 17″ alloy wheels, heated seats, wood trim, 3.0 Liter 6 Cylinder engine with 230 horsepower for 3 years at $389 per month. At the end of 3 years I’d own nothing. In 2 ½ years I’ll be able to put $450 per month away for my kids’ college education and I’ll be saving more on fuel as gasoline approaches $5 per gallon. The self important egotistical BMW leaser pretending to be successful will need to hand over their sweet ride and move on to the next lease, never saving a dime for the future. I’m sure they’ll make a killing in the market or their McMansion will surely double in price, providing a fantastic retirement.

After the briefest of lulls when oil reached $145 per barrel, Americans have resumed buying SUVs, pickup trucks, and gas guzzling muscle cars. They have chosen to ignore the imminence of peak cheap oil because driving a leased BMW makes your neighbors think you are a success, while driving a hybrid would make your neighbors think you are a liberal tree hugger. It boggles my mind that so many Americans are so shallow and shortsighted. According to Automotive News, at the start of 2008 leasing comprised 31.2% of luxury vehicle sales and 18.7% of non-luxury sales. This proves that hundreds of thousands of wannabes are driving leased BMWs and Mercedes to fill some void in their superficial lives.

The delusion that cheap oil is a God given right of all Americans can be seen in the YTD data on vehicle sales. Pickups and SUVs account for 48.5% of all sales, while small fuel efficient cars account for only 16.5% of all sales. Americans will continue to lie to themselves until it is too late, again.

Picture 5

Americans are so committed to their automobiles, hyper-consumerism, oversized McMansions, and suburban sprawl existence that they will never willingly prepare in advance for a future by scaling back, downsizing, or thinking. Our culture is built upon consumption, debt, cheap oil and illusion. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy concludes that there are so many Americans tied to our unsustainable economic model that they will choose to lie to themselves and be lied to by their leaders rather than think and adapt:

A large number of voters work in or depend on the energy and automobile industries, and still more are invested in them, not just financially but emotionally and culturally. These secondary cadres included racing fans, hobbyists, collectors, and dedicated readers of automotive magazines, as well as the tens of millions of automobile commuters from suburbs and distant exurbs, plus the high number of drivers whose strong self-identification with vehicle types and models serve as thinly disguised political statements. In the United States more than elsewhere, a preference for conspicuous consumption over energy efficiency and conservation is a signal of a much deeper, central divide.

M King Hubbert was a geophysicist and a practical man. He observed data, made realistic assumptions, and came to logical conclusions. He didn’t deal in unrealistic hope and unwarranted optimism. He knew that our culture had become so dependent upon lies and an unsustainable growth model based on depleting oil and debt based “prosperity”. He knew decades ago that we were incapable of dealing with the truth:

Our principal constraints are cultural. During the last two centuries we have known nothing but exponential growth and in parallel we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture, a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth.

Our country is at a crucial juncture. It is time for thinkers. It is time for realists. It is time to deal with facts. It is time to drive the ideologues off the stage. Are you tired of lying to yourselves? Are you tired of being lied to by the corporate fascists that run this country? It is time to wake up. Right wing and left wing ideologues will continue to spew lies and misinformation as they are power hungry and care not for the long-term survival of our nation or the unborn generations that depend upon the decisions we make today. It is time to see how we really are.

Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are. – Aldous Huxley

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  1. Rick Halsen

    Holy Crap.

    After all these years it just dawned on me after reading this that I’m truly a no-good consuming ignorant bastard.

    How do I become a non-consuming-non-ignorant bastard?

    Oh wait a second I understand how I can become one. Stupid me.

    I’ll sell every electronic gadget I own, including this computer, sell the expensive car, and ride a shittie recycled bike to the library. Of course after I do all that to myself and my family, I just hope the other 99.999999% out there do the same damn thing so I don’t feel like a complete monkish jackass.

    Now seriously, we consume, Jim, because consumable items are tempting to consume and in reality what the hell are we going to do with our funny money? Flagellate ourselves with corded and knotted versions thereof?

    I mean come on. We’re basically just barely above chimps in socially refined ettiquette towards one another as it is and many times quite a bit below them.

    Thou expecteth too much I thinketh. But hey, someone has to tell us the unvarnished damn truth.


    1. Jeff

      “Thou expecteth too much I thinketh.”

      Nah. I don’t live like that. Lots of people don’t, and it’s not because we can’t afford to either. I haven’t owned a TeeVee for a decade, start there. There are lots of things to do with your “funny money” that are a lot more fun once you decide not to fit the consumer “profile”.

      1. Rick Halsen

        “I haven’t owned a TeeVee for a decade, start there.”

        You obviously ain’t even close to the norm. Which in modern society these days makes you abnormal.

        There are also lots of folks that live an austere monk lifestyle. But to expect most to live that way is well…………..expecting too much. The definition btw of what ‘a lot’ means is very very relative depending on where you live. If you live in Tibet there be lots of people like you.

        Just sayin.


  2. Toby

    “I was in New York in the 30’s. I had a box seat at the depression. I can assure you it was a very educational experience. We shut the country down because of monetary reasons. We had manpower and abundant raw materials. Yet we shut the country down. We’re doing the same kind of thing now but with a different material outlook. We are not in the position we were in 1929–30 with regard to the future. Then the physical system was ready to roll. This time it’s not. We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use oil once. You can only use metals once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered.” M. King Hubbert, 1983

    Renewables are the future, and their use throughout the global economy will require a totally different economics. The old guard has to go to let this necessary transition take place. In Germany many companies can now construct what are called Null Energie Häuse (zero energy houses), which create more energy than they consume. You can use them to power your electric car, for example. Or be paid by the energy company for the excess electricity the house pumps into the grid. See: http://www.weberhaus.de/index/aktion/generation50.html

    Education needs a total overhaul. Right now we purposefully dumb down our young to make them pliant and insatiable consumers, and unquestioning grunts for factory work. We need creative problem solvers who think for themselves, right across the board. Only in this way can we begin to end the class divisions that are so corrosive to society. See John Taylor Gatto and Sir Ken Robinson for more on this. John Holt also makes interesting reading.

    Technological development means different types of work skills are needed, as well as different employer-employee contracts. The new economics foundation in the UK are asking the right questions. They are calling for a 21 hours work-week to be the new normal: http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/21-hours

    And then there’s our ‘wonderful’ money system, perhaps the most important element (though a patchwork approach won’t work), which by design necessitates Perpetual Growth. The global monetary system is a giant ponzi in its core dynamic; it needs ever more people to take on ever more debt. We are in the perverse and totally illogical situation of not being able to ‘afford’ the healthier world we have the desire, know-how, manpower and resources to achieve. My hope is that Stephen Zarlenga and The American Monetary Institute gain more traction.

    This is no longer about left/right tribalism, it’s a time for bridging differences and not being afraid to ask the questions that pierce the decrepit assumptions that sustain belief in today’s dying status quo. This article is one of many doing that. We need more and more of them.

  3. leroguetradeur

    There’s much in this that is right, though it applies to a smaller proportion of the population than the author implies – there are not all that many people driving SUVs and living in financed McMansions, as a proportion of the population, and there are an awful lot driving used cars, living exactly where they have for 20 years or more, and just barely getting by with a slowly declining standard of living.

    Some of the time it reads as a sort of lament for a formerly rich yuppie class that has lost its way, but its intended to have a wider cultural resonance than that.

    However, the basic point, that shopping as entertainment is deeply culturally corrupting, that debt as a means of financing it is also corrupting, and that the banking and investment standards of the last 20 years, basically since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, have collapsed totally – all that is true.

    Don’t know about peak oil. But if it is coming towards us, and it seems plausible enough, then driving hybrids is not going to make much difference. If true peak oil is coming, complete with the present level of demand growth from the Far East, then we are looking not at hybrids, but about wholesale social change on a scale not seen in a hundred years. We will be talking the abolition of the auto industry, not product replacement. Along with it will go suburbs, shopping malls, chemical and industrial agriculture, passenger airlines, air freight.

    We will be seeing people walk to neighborhood shops, taking mass transit, living in dense housing cities. Jobs and businesses will have to move too. Strip developments will all close. Its a vision of the future which Kunstler talks about all the time. If it is correct, the American landscape will be littered with masses of developments which no-one can afford to get to any more, along highways which no-one can afford to drive on.

    Phoenix, as an example, will close also, because you won’t be able to afford to run air conditioning.

    I don’t know if this is what is coming towards us in the form of peak oil, but if it is, don’t underestimate the social consquences, they will be simply huge.

    1. Rick Halsen

      Of course you’re right. But you’re missing an even greater point in all this.

      That is, we all pretty much know life is damn short. That the future looks anything but grim if you even begin to take the prohesies from the Bible to heart much less all the 2012 cataclysmic misery coming our way.

      I think people somehow innately sense that the party is just about coming to an end. And they’re partying likes it 1999 as a result.

      The sackcloth and ashes will come indeed. In the meantime, sit down by the fire, pick up your remote, light up a cigar, and tell everyone that you have an hour to kill. Anything you pretty much do right now to the contrary just annoys the powers that be, gets the wife on your ass for being pessimistic and morose, and generally by the end of the day, you’re still fucked.

      This is the varnished truth. What can I say.


  4. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Our culture is built upon consumption, debt, cheap oil and illusion. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy concludes that there are so many Americans tied to our unsustainable economic model that they will choose to lie to themselves and be lied to by their leaders rather than think and adapt…At some point, enough people will tolerate the truth rather than more sweet lies. IMVHO, that will be the tipping point.

  5. spc

    Honda Insight !!?? -rotfl .
    Quinn got suckered into hybrids.
    America spawned this hybrid madness. In USA anything doing 50 MPG was sci – fi untill the hybrids came.
    On the other side of the pond there is magical technology called “diesel engine”. It’s quite new, it’s only 118 years old.
    Anything with diesel under 2 liter capacity does more MPGs than hybrid.
    Including BMW 5 series D with 2liter 184 PS engine – and that’s a CAR not a toy.

    This is a bit dated, thought :
    Here is BMW M3 vs Prius :
    From Top Gear.

    It’s not what you drive is how you drive.

    1. alex

      “America spawned this hybrid madness.”

      The first mass market hybrid was the Toyota Prius, which for years was sold only in Japan.

      “On the other side of the pond there is magical technology called ‘diesel engine’.”

      Unfortunately if the rest of the world started a move to diesels, we’d run out of diesel before we ran out of gasoline. Out of a barrel of oil you can get about 20 gallons of gasoline but only 10 gallons of diesel (actually 10 gallons of “distillates”, an industry term for the fractions that include diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil). That’s why diesel used to be cheaper than gasoline, but is now more expensive.

      I admit to being non-plussed by the parallel hybrids (Prius, Insight, etc.) which get only modest gains for all their complexity, and series hybrids (Chevy Volt) are still in their infancy, but diesel is no panacea.

    2. BH in MA

      It’s not so much the engine as it is the fuel. Diesel fuel contains more energy per given volume than gasoline. When you consider that regular gasoline contains 10% ethanol in the US these days, there’s about 15% more energy in the diesel fuel.

  6. Hybrid Delusion

    ” I bought a Honda Insight Hybrid six months ago. It gets 44 mpg and will save me $1,500 per year in gasoline costs. ”
    WRONG. The upcharge ( loss of trunk space too ) would take in excess of 10 years to break even over the price of a gas powered 1.6 civic, even if gas goes up to 5 per gallon! I’ve done the math, but you had to go out and buy the Yuppie green prize didn’t cha? tsk tsk

  7. UN Hillary

    Those idiots who bought 70 year old square boxes of a house at insane prices, what a bunch of dumbshits! To be fair, Quinn doesn’t exactly say that, but he does say:

    “If your brother-in-law buys a 7,000 sq ft, 7 bedroom, 4 bath, 3 car garage, monolith to decadence for his family of 3, thirty miles from civilization, with no money down and a no doc Option ARM providing the funds, why shouldn’t you get in on the fun.”

    A sizeable portion of the population has this view of *every wretch* who bo”ught a house, which isn’t fair, honest or helpful.. They would be the first to say they made a big mistake by having anything to do with the financial assasins that set them up to fail.
    “dumbshits” are victims of planned, executed predation by a cabal of Government+Banking interests. –
    Which the author eventually says anyway, Just thought I’d nitpick.

  8. Matt Franko

    I agree with much here.

    I am waiting for the hybrids to go plug-in, then I’m in. Till then will keep driving my 4-cyl.

    Note of caution when you say we are borrowing from future generations…this is the fallacy of ‘intergenerational accounting’ you are falling into here. Think about it for it to be true it requires the use of a ‘Time Machine’ (our future generations will have to travel back in time to pay it back?). Remember balance sheets have TWO sides. Liabilities posted TODAY have offsetting assets TODAY, that kind of thing….


  9. alex

    Ugh. The sort of ranting in the article adds nothing to the debate. Yes, there are some serious issues and some solid facts in there, but it still has all the style of a moralistic rant. Calmer, more considered, and hence more useful discussion of all the issues in the article have taken place many times in NC.

    1. Ina Deaver

      My sentiments exactly. Calling people stupid peasants does not ingratiate you with those people, even if you are right.

      But he strikes me as not right. As Toby mentioned, there are technologies out there in mass use that are not present here for a simple reason: the problem here isn’t the stupid peasants, it’s the rentiers sucking the blood of the economy. There hasn’t been any maintenance on our infrastructure, much less updating or innovation. That would decrease this quarter’s profits – and hence the CEOs bonus – and we can’t have that.

      Because they have had fully-functioning waste-to-energy plants in Germany since the mid-1980s, and they have zero (passive) energy houses, and they have real railways.

      But Mr. Jim bought a hybrid, so we should all be ashamed. Particularly those of us without $450 a month – despite the fact that he said in the prior breath that most of the country was hanging on by an economic thread. I mean seriously.

  10. scharfy

    This guy isn’t much fun at cocktail parties, I’ll bet.

    There is some priceless “my crazy uncle at Thanksgiving who watched too much Glenn Beck” sprinkled in there for fun.

    Halley’s comet didn’t end society, the Luddite’s were wrong, as was Malthus, people weren’t really ‘better’ back then, and no – sitting around reading Shakespeare won’t help anyone, nominal credit card debt charts and all.

    Progress comes from knowledge, humans adapt, and the great reset/rapture/repentance come to Jesus moment for humanity never really comes. We just get old and die, and younger people do the same shit we did.

    Pessimists never end up being as smart as their myopic essays suggest. Human spirit always prevails.

    I’ll submit the last 2000 years of progress as evidence.

    Gotta take my dog to yoga now, facebook me later…

    1. alex

      “my crazy uncle at Thanksgiving who watched too much Glenn Beck”

      Redundant. It’s enough to say that your uncle listened to Glenn Beck. The ‘C’ adjective is an obvious inference from that.

      “This guy isn’t much fun at cocktail parties, I’ll bet.”

      On the contrary, what fun is a cocktail party without a few ranting moralists to argue with?

    2. TeresaE

      You’ll submit the last 2000 years of progress?

      Ever hear of the Dark Ages? Witch hunts? Fall of the Roman Empire?

      All happened in the last 2000 years, all dramatically dropped our standard of living.

      If not for the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages would not have been as the technology and medicine would not have been lost to the ages.

      One thing we can say for humans in any time period, they always believe this time is different.

  11. DP

    This cliche filled harangue is appropriate for the Amen Chorus at rantfests like Zero Hedge or Mish, but it is beneath the normal quality standards of Naked Capitalism. I’m as bearish on the economy and our economic future as anybody but after the 3rd or 4th invocation of the hackneyed term “McMansion” the 8th or 10th reference to how stupid everybody else is and seeing one straw man after another set up and torn down (is there really one serious person out there who has claimed the Bakken Shale is the answer to America’s energy problems) I’ve read enough.

    It’s funny that this loudmouth ripped MSNBC and Fox News several times because he’s engaging in the same kind of one sided hyperbole.

    Maybe if we give him a group hug for buying new Honda Insight at 0.9% and assure him it really does make him morally superior to everybody who owns a BMW he’ll feel better.

    1. alex

      You’re missing the point. The idea isn’t to examine problems and suggest fixes, but to pound the pulpit in a moralizing rant. The apocalypse will come about because of our sins, not our mistakes.

      1. DownSouth

        As Stigliz put it, the old economic ideologies had “replaced the religious doctrines that had so long held sway over humankind but were [now] held with the same emotional fervor; indeed the fervor was reinforced by the false sense that the [new economic] ideologies rested on scientific premises.” The later turn by economists to mathematical and other analytically more rigorous methods in the twentieth century was in part a counterreaction to the perceived failures of economists in the older historical and institutional school to live up to their professed scientific ideas.


        In the three hundred years since modern economists first emerged in a secular mode in the Enlightenment, no one has yet developed a value-neutral economics of any great interest or social usefulness. Whatever the choice of economic method selected, it seems that there is bound to be a powerful set of value assumptions—-sometimes more up-front and explicit, sometimes more hidden…

        In short, economists would not have much to lose in turning back in their methods of inquiry to the approaches of the old historical and institutional school. They may think they would be losing their scientific virtue, but it would be more correct to say that they would be abandoning their scientific hypocrisy.
        –Robert H. Nelson, Economics as Religion

  12. bmeisen

    I agree that the American Dream has become the freedom to move and consume as you wish. Go out for a drive around the park or move to Phoenix, go out and buy a machine gun or a barrel of pickles or a McMansion. Somewhat subordinate are the freedoms that emerged from the Enlightenment: freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom of speech and the press. Almost forgotten are rights associated with the judicial system and the workplace. This is American Dream 10.0:

    1.0 Nativist America (to 1619)
    2.0 Pilgrim America (1620 – 1702/Queen Anne’s War)
    3.0 Revolutionary Colonies (1702 – 1789)
    4.0 Early Republic (1789 – 1860)
    5.0 Pluralistic Consolidation (1865 – 1898/Spanish Amer War)
    6.0 First Empire (1898 – 1929)
    7.0 American Risorgimento (1930 – 1945)
    8.0 Second Empire (1945 – 1980)
    9.0 Proto-fascist Ascension (1980 – 2008)
    10.0 Ditatorship of Consumption (2008 – )

    Problem is that it has to be fundamentally remade – people have to learn how to live together in dense communities, and wait for buses, and be patient with others and at the same time so many people have guns.

  13. DP

    Quinn says that his Honda Insight will/is saving him $1500/yr in gasoline expense. At $3/gallon, that’s 500 gallons a year, or about 10 gallons a week. To cut his fuel consumption by that much it must be that he is either driving at least 20-25K miles per year commuting from a McMansion in the suburbs or he was driving a Hummer.

    Which is it Mr. Quinn? I’d like to pass judgment on you. Are you another Al Gore or RFK Jr. who travels the world in a private jet to lecture about global warming?

  14. frances snoot

    “Sadly, a vast swath of Americans has chosen ignorance over knowledge. Make no mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn’t matter whether you are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country. Sob stories about the disadvantaged poor having no access to education are nothing but liberal spin to keep the masses controlled. There are 122,500 libraries in this country. If you want to read a book, you can read a book.”

    “At this festive time of year, Mr. Quinn, it is important we fund education for the poor.” Are there no libraries? “Plenty of libraries.” And the library cards? Do they still function? “Yes, they do. But privatizing education has nothing to do with library usage.” Who said anything about privatizing education? Everyone has a equal chance in America, go read a book. “You imply that those who wish for an egalitarian principal are whiners. Many can’t go to the library: they are closing libraries, Mr. Scrooge, er Quinn.” Good day, loser. “What?!” I said, ‘It is time for thinkers.’ “You mean, stinkers?”

    1. TeresaE


      I’ll just ignore that so many that “can’t afford” to go to a library are spending upwards of $100 a month on their phone bill, plus another hundred on cable.

      $200 a month at Amazon or Borders would buy one helluva education in whatever subject one wishes to immerse themselves in.

      Which then equates to free-will and priorities, and I think Jim squarely hit the nail when he disparaged Americans reasoning when it comes to that.

  15. Moneta

    Make no mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn’t matter whether you are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country. Sob stories about the disadvantaged poor having no access to education are nothing but liberal spin to keep the masses controlled.
    I think this is another American lie. One where Americans think they can control everything and blame everyone for their poor choices.

    It may appear that people have multiple choices but in reality human nature, wiring and conditioning will keep many out of reach.

  16. Jim Quinn

    Looks like I struck a chord with the usual bunch on this site. Glad to wake you up this morning with a little dose of reality. Keep bringing on your scorn. Keep believing your government will solve your problems and make you smart with their government education. Ignorance and self deception are not limited to the uneducated masses. It is actually more prevelant among the supposedly educated BMW drivers and McMansion occupiers.

    1. DP

      “the usual bunch on this site”

      No response to any of the critical comments, just more red herrings from this blowhard who is pretty much Glenn Beck with a leftward tilt.

      None of had knew that the U.S. had been on an easy credit binge for 30 years or had ever heard of peak oil until this doofus educated us.

      As I said Yves, linking to this kind of crap is beneath normal NC standards.

      1. Jim Quinn

        I really get under your skin. The article must really hit close to home. You wouldn’t be a BMW leaser, would you? You need to go to some anger management classes before you blow a valve. Glenn Beck with a leftward tilt. You really don’t have a clue, do you?

        1. DP

          You recommending anger management classes for somebody else? Remove the plank from your own eye, gasbag.

          No, I don’t lease a BMW. I drive a 2001 Toyota Highlander that I bought for cash in 2004 and have put 45K miles on in 6 years. Maybe if I drove as much as you I could make an economic justification for a hybrid.

          I followed Yves’ link to your sorry

          1. DP

            Whoops, accidentally hit enter. I followed the link to your website and see the only website linked under your favorites is Zero Hedge. What a shock.

          2. Jim Quinn

            You sure seem consumed by me. You appear to be getting angrier. Calm down. Take a deep breath and stop foaming at the mouth with such hatred.

            Now it’s time to go back through all of my old posts to see what you can dig up. Do I have you figured out?

          3. Psychoanalystus

            Okay, I’m accepting new members into my anger management psychotherapy group on facebook. Only $100 bucks a session, cash or paypal only. Next week I’m starting a new one on tweeter. And the one I’m doing on HDTV Skype’s still going strong.

            Looking forward to seeing you all there…


    2. Kristara Bentworth

      Jim, you bought the wrong car – man up! You should question Guvmint info yo’self, including their spurious claims about gas mileage!

      1. Jim Quinn

        Are you as stupid as you sound? My old car got 24 mpg. My new car gets 44 mpg. I drive 25,000 miles per year. This means I will use 500 less gallons per year at $3 per gallon equals $1,500 savings.

        You morons can’t understand simple math. Your ignorance is breathtaking to behold.

        1. DP

          What a hypocrite blowhard. You lecture everybody else on the evils of suburbs and McMansions while you put 25,000 miles a year on an automobile commuting.

          Congratulations on saving $1500/year on gasoline. Of course you’re sinking over $20,000 (according to your numbers) into the down payment and monthly payments for the new vehicle and you’re also paying more to insure it.

          1. Jim Quinn

            Your ignorance is breathtaking. You need a few lessons in reading comprehension. Maybe Jack & Jill is more your speed. Critical thinking is far beyond your pea brain.

            I really think Yves should ban all commentors with IQs below 75.

            Time to watch Chris Matthews or read another Krugman Op-Ed so that your worldview can be confirmed by fellow ideologues.

            Stay angry DP.

          2. DP

            From the Raging Hypocrite Blowhard’s site this morning:

            “I was still seething with rage at this asshole, so I pulled up beside him “blasted” my horn and gave him the South Philly middle finger salute. Of course, I was in a Honda Insight that was three stories below his cab, so he never saw my response. At least I’m fired up and ready to take it out on any fool who crosses my path today on the site.”

            Yeah, it’s everybody else who has the anger management issues.

    3. ScottW

      Jim–I bet if we got to know you real well we could find a thing or two we could turn into a stereotypical rant about your family’s lifestyle. You clearly don’t own a leased BMW, and you must either rent, or own a home under 2,000 square feet. But I am sure there are activities, you, or your children, engage in that are bad for the environment, consumerist, or a complete waste of time (at least as judged by the more virtuous person reading your column who has even higher standards–at least according to him or her). We all like to judge other people and in the end it tends to make us feel less guilty about the way we live. In the end, however, you will always be more of a consumerist than (90%, or more) of the World’s citizens who will never own a car–much less a hybrid.

      1. karen1p

        His many points are valid. We, as a society, value that which should be shunned. We value boob jobs? Really? What is wrong with valuing a good exchange of ideas?

        Here you want to look into his dirty laundry because why?? To make sure he is as he says he is? Really? Why don’t we all start by thinking about what he said and try to make little changes in our own lives so that we can feel good about what we are teaching our children? Instead, you call him on the carpet because of your own inadequacies? Stop it.

        And start changing it. Please.

        I value reading Shakespeare….and I think exporting “Dancing with the Stars” and “Jersey Shore” is just abhorrent to me….and it should be to you too.

    4. Rick Halsen

      You do understand that had it not been for over-consumption by the unenlightened masses that the Prius you’re driving probably wouldn’t be in your driveway much less affordable at $450/month. Then unless you’re an unabashed Luddite (which appears Prius-techno savvy as you are, you aren’t) that the sand in the vaseline is the American populace’s excessive materiality.

      Well, Jim, that’s what pendulums are for. You see they swing from one side to another. Now until a lot of missile uranium meets plutonium the pendulum swinging back toward the consumption middle (I assume that’s where you’d like things to be) will eventually get there as you’re now witnessing. Just not as quickly as you’d like apparently. Patience. We cannot all turn into the Amish without some reasonable time alloted for gradual assimilation.

      “Life without luxuries really sucks. It sucks bad enough with them. In the meantime enjoy what you got because one day for sure you won’t.” RH


    5. karen1p

      I am one of the “usual one’s on this site.” And I agree with you whole-heartedly!

      I drive a car that gets 55 mpg. When I purchased it, I almost got run off the road by big Suburbans and Escalades on purpose. I have first hand knowledge of the boorishness and self-serving attitudes out there.

      You hear what comes out of people’s mouths and it really is shocking. They want the new I-phone, I-pod, flat screen, the latest gizmo-gadget that they can. They rarely talk of literature. They rarely talk of the implications of QE2. They rarely talk of these things that will impact their world in a very real way.

      I think the anger you raised is exactly what I saw on the road…..people not wanting to admit they are part of the problem. They don’t want to look around them and see that the excess which they live with will be our downfall. They don’t want to get rid of what they deem to be essentials. That is where the anger comes from. They don’t want to self-examine. It’s too easy to just get pissed off.

      I thank you for your post. Perhaps it makes just one person look around them and decide that they don’t need the bigger TV this year. Maybe they decide to turn the current one they have off on Friday nights and decide to engage in “game night” with their kids, or have their neighbor over for dinner. Perhaps it will make someone open “A Summer Night’s Dream.”

  17. frances snoot

    In conclusion: it’s easy to have fun. It’s easy to compete. It’s easy to rely on oil. But the time for real thinking is upon us: foisted upon us by the moves being made by those parties privy to the exchange rate control once termed dollar-exchange-valuation. Why speculate? We’ll just throw the poor under a bus and go to the library to read “War and Peace.” After all: America wrote the book on that!

  18. frances snoot

    Written narrative resembles a three-pronged fork. One prong belongs to the writer; one prong belongs to the reader; and on prong remains domiciled within the ever-changing realm termed word usage. Writers need remain cognizant that the fork being put to use to feed ‘reality’ to the ‘uneducated masses’ is not really related to their own species of family silver.

      1. Confused

        But Jim, you’re director of strategic planning for a major ivy league university. Is there a little bit of pots and kettles at work here?

        1. Jim Quinn

          Confused is a good name for you. Working for an Ivy League university and graduating from one are somewhat different. Do you need me to clarify that for you Pot?

          1. BSD

            So working for an Ivy institution in a professional capacity doesn’t give you the “Ivy League genius” cooties… but doing some grad work at (a minor) one without earning a degree, does? Interesting.

  19. LJR

    I think cross posting Quinn’s tendentious drivel really lowers the quality of NC. I’d expect his rants on zerohedge but not here.

  20. Koshem Bos

    I don’t believe that Americans are different from other people or cultures. Despite the immense progress in work conditions we achieved over those that persisted a century ago, most people work hard and don’t have the luxury of sorting out complexities with educated knowledge and reading.

    Although the Internet is at our fingertips, it is one of the filters through which the lucky ones get information. Blogs, largely, are full of lies and misconceptions. The same is true about the media and most of the books. (The book industry produces a very small ratio of knowledge to volume.)

    France, Russia, Italy and Israel (the country with the highest scientific publication per capita) are all like the US.

  21. frances snoot

    Honestly, I think three-“it is time”sss would have been sufficient for his concluding paragraph-argument. But, repetition being what it is, is, is, one understands his reliance upon words,words,words to drive home his point about paying off the debt-masters and shafting poor people.

    What would George Washington do do do?

  22. Ron

    “GMAC (taxpayer owned) and Ford Credit continue to dish out car loans to anyone with a pulse and a 600 credit score.”

    Americans are bred for luxury debt consumption and war as they grow up shopping and playing war video games. The BK laws will be narrowed or eliminated as debt will be the norm
    and modern life will be centered around monthly bills. Quinn points out the obvious about American culture which has been reduced to strip shopping malls and hopem that fashion forward is a meaningful life.

  23. Paul Tioxon

    Jim, it looks likes you have been invited to the discussion to provide an added dimension to the usual discussion here that is tightly focused on the getting part of getting and spending. You really have set off some of the usual suspects into one doozy of a golf clap of an Ivy League Faculty lounge snidely delivered derision. Well played sport. Seriously, some of the over educated dopes on here really think if they lose their personal liberties due to a lack of shopping, that the whole world will fall apart and go down some hole from which we will never recover. BRRRRRR! They have confused the diamonds are forever commercials with the BP and Chevron ads that proclaim they are working for the future of energy with new hi tech solutions like algae that make jet fuel and and windmills that can launch air craft carriers. Oil and gas are not forever, and as they dwindle, the old supply and demand curve will go up astronomically, even worse than the $4/gal we recently had.
    Good job, keep shaking the people up and breaking their pretty balloons and taking their music away.

    1. DP

      “to provide an added dimension to the usual discussion here that is tightly focused on the getting part of getting and spending”

      Yeah, you’ve really got a handle on this website. It’s all about consumption.


        1. DP

          It’s clear logic isn’t your strong suit, but when you rant about how stupid the rest of the world is and want to insult somebody, you might want to come up with something better than “your views are proving to be in the minority”.

          1. Jim Quinn

            I love when the delusional, like yourself, call my fact based analysis a rant. Anything that does not match your worldview is a rant. You ideologues are a joke.

  24. El Snarko


    Huxley was not against consuming, he was against induced consumption. Honestly I am still waiting for someone to explain how “rational expectations” and “rational self interest”can co-exist with marketing and advertising industries.

    The crux of this is that there can be no recovery without irrational externally motivated induced sonsumption. Unless we have a vast cultural change.

    1. Toby

      “The crux of this is that there can be no recovery without irrational externally motivated induced sonsumption. Unless we have a vast cultural change.”

      I’ll drink to that, but would add that the environment has to play ball, which means ‘recovery’ has to be in the form of radical change. If environment not happy, then forced consumption last thing on minds.

  25. Flakmeister


    I think Quinn has been channelling me. I could not have said better.

    I raise my children “old school”.

    1) Consumer debt is slavery…
    2) The most valuable asset you have is your mind
    3) Personal happiness does not come from possesions.
    4) Find a career that provides satisfaction.
    5) There is no free lunch….

    My 13 year old son understands peak oil and has a self-taught understanding of the U.S. rail system on par with most Wall street analysts. I bought him a PS2 a few years back, he is bored to tears by it. He understands about responsibility to the family and the contributions that are expected. He gets no allowance, but has managed to save $700 over the past year (while buying his own Ipod). He is on his way to becoming the youngest Eagle scout ever in his troop.

    It is in children like this that my hope for the future lies.

  26. jay22

    This one went off the rails very quickly.

    Assuming that “modern leisure = stupid” and “older forms of leisure = smart” sets the stage for unseriousness to follow.

    This was like listening to my grandpa ‘describe’ walking to school uphill both ways in the snow every day to school as the prelude for his diatribe against car/bus rides to school were weakening the moral fiber of American children. Gimme a break.

    Morality rants by grandpa are a time honored thanksgiving tradition. kudos on this one.

  27. frances snoot

    Oh, Gosh, Golly-Gee-Whiz, Mr. Quinn. Don’t listen to old-Francie. I like your stuff. I want to follow in your foot-steps right up to the Gettysburg Address. Yes, indeedy. It was hard work and right ways that made America great! Yes, indeedy. So don’t listen to old Franny-Panny: you are my hero. Yes, indeedy.

    It’s easy to forget the sacrifice, the great VALUES, that Americans trample on now. But we are coming home. HALLELUJAH!

    Yes, indeedy.

  28. Jim

    Jim Quinn has argued that “Americans were given the mental capacity to critically think. Sadly, a vast swath of Americans have chosen ignorance over knowledge…We don’t know because we don’t want to know.”

    An alternative assumption would be that people readily acquire knowledge that they can put to good use. Since the general public no longer participates in debates on national issues, a vast swath has no reason to inform itself about civic affairs.

    It may well be the decay of public debate, rather than some existential choice about pursing information, is largely responsible for making the general public ill-informed.

    When debate becomes a lost art, information, even though readily available, makes no impression.

    Real argument tends to be risky and unpredictable and not simply a clash of rival dogmas in which neither side gives any ground.

    Arguments are not won by shouting down opponents, but by changing their minds–something that tends to happen if we give an opposing argument a hearing and still persuade their advocates that something is wrong with their position. In the course of such activity we may well decide that there is something wrong with our own arguments.

    Arguments seem to be the essence of education and, I believe, a functioning democracy is the most educational form of government. It attempts to extend the circle of debate as widely as possible and hopefully forces citizens to put their views at risk.

    Unless information is generated by sustained public debate, most of it will be irrelevant at best, and at worst, as it is day–misleading and manipulative.

    Professionalism in politics and professionalism in journalism tend to join together in helping to destroy democracy.

    1. Flakmeister

      Well said…

      I’m one of those cocktail party types mentioned above who enjoys pissing in the koolaid. I am deeply distraught at the declining ability of people to debate any issue without parroting the latest meme of Beck, Rush et al. (When I am visiting in Canada, the some applies to the left). When people are confronted with any form of threat to their world view they simply turn off. Denial has worked for close to 35 years but I fear the times “They are a changin”

    2. Rick Halsen

      “It may well be the decay of public debate,…..”

      Most undoubtedly. Participating in public debate nowadays because of the PCedness of our society at large is quite dangerous to one’s future income. Say something ‘controversial’ with just a hint of a gender, race, sexual orientation or any other hair trigger topic that is contrary to the Hollywood Norm and your damn head could very well be handed to you.

      Basically what I’m saying is that candor and frankness is an elucidating lost art because of chicken shit uber-sensitive assholes running our media much less those that handsomely donate to only certain PC factions of our political leadership.

      We used to be able to call a spade a spade. Now if you intoned something akin to that in a racially-diversified debate, you’d most likely be pilloried for being a racist.

      You can’t get a point across with the way this ballgame is being umpired, brother.


      1. Flakmeister

        PCness is part of the problem, however, I see that as merely a pendulum swing. A lot of people can rightly protest against past transgressions. There are sensitivities to some terms and classifications. Don’t forget that the pratictioners of past transgressions were well versed in the twisting of words to meet their ends. People remember how they were deceived.

        Any idea should be expressible without offence, but it must be done in a way that is not malicious. That requires understanding and reason, the very things that are lacking.

        1. Rick Halsen

          Yes indeed, and it’s been one hell of a long pendulum swing hasn’t it? I’m trying to remember when non-PC talk was fairly de rigueur and I can’t.

          Re the nuances of not offending one’s sensitivities along the lines you describe, my point isn’t re egregious offences but rather the pervasive hair trigger over the top reactions at the mere hint of an offence.

          We don’t even have thin skins left as it were. We’re right down to subepidermis. The mere passing of an offence over it causes convulsive tremors.

          We need to lighten up a shitload and then some to have any chance for meaningful debate of important issues in this country such as the Mighty Quinn has opined.


  29. armand eddon

    Fascinating exchange… anything that lays so bare the ego-dynamics displayed so overtly here is worth something, maybe a lot! A great success of some sort, but I do wonder what it all means?

    Frankly, I have always been suspect of NC readers’ motives due to their shrill emphasis on debt jubilee, and their notion that people who lend others money are essentially criminals if they want to be repaid.

    My best guess has been MANY are heavily indebted and desperately desire relief; this exchange feeds my belief.

    I have previously suggested that posts on strategic default, debt jubilee, etc be accompanied by a personal DISCLOSURE – how far underwater and/or in debt is the opinionator?

    My Disclosure: Bought what I could afford and believed to be reasonable in 1996, paid it off in 2001, retired last year at age 58 to meditate more, read more, exercise more, enjoy nature more, socialize more, etc. It’s GREAT and all this stuff is FREE!!!

    1. Flakmeister

      Can’t speak for others but aside from the mortgage, I have no debt. Bought in 2003 with a 5/1 ARM 4.75%, currently %3.25, basically flat in price. Still cheaper than renting, the nut with taxes is $1200 a month.

      Last time I was in debt was in 1984 when I financed a king-size waterbed (ah, the joys of youth) when I was a grad student. I suppose that the Honda Accord I bought in 1998 and paid off in 2000 counts but I could have paid cash at the time.(It now has 210,000 miles on it, runs like a charm 24/28 mpg)

    2. F. Beard

      I have previously suggested that posts on strategic default, debt jubilee, etc be accompanied by a personal DISCLOSURE – how far underwater and/or in debt is the opinionator? armand eddon

      I am debt free but advocate for a bailout of the entire US population including savers. However, let only the borrowers be bailed out if no one else.

      My motives are selfish though. I figure I will suffer if my country suffers.

      However, as one who has considered the moral implications of a government backed fractional reserve banking cartel and one who reads the Old Testament and what it says about usury (Deuteronomy 23:19-20) and debt forgiveness (Deuteronomy 15) I figure I am on the side of the Angels.

      Want to be repaid what you “loaned” (with perhaps 20-1 leverage?) Fine. Let the US Treasury (or Congress) first raise reserve requirements to 100% to put banks out of the counterfeiting business and then send every American adult a huge check of debt and interest free United States Notes.

      1. DownSouth

        Debates like this allow people to get up on their moral high horses. That’s why they get so heated.

        It harkens back to the religious wars of the 16th and 17th century.

        The Protestants were no less dogmatic and autocratic than the Catholics, as anyone who lived in John Calvin’s city-state of Geneve could testify. Punishments were quick and harsh. Heresy could draw an immediate death sentence. Calvin’s justification for this excessive punishment reveals the mindset of all Reformation inquisitors, Protestant and Catholic alike: “When the papists are so harsh and violent in defense of their superstitions,” he asked, “are not Christ’s magistrates shamed to show themselves less ardent in defense of the sure truth?”

          1. DownSouth

            I do indeed.

            And one of my truths is that morals do matter. In fact, they have just as great if not greater influence on human behavior as does rationality.

            And when it comes to morals you can mark me up in the Natural Law camp. But this is a statement more of opinion than factual reality. It seems, however, that many don’t know the difference between opinion and factual reality. In moral discussions, that’s where much of the rub comes from.

    3. BSD

      Quinn talks about reading. He — and all the NC regulars who fancy themselves sophisticated each time they toss out a trailer-park term like “bankster” — should try Margaret Atwood’s Payback.

      It turns out the tactic Armond just alluded to is common throughout Western history. At regular intervals, debtors have gained enough leverage to erase debts en masse by physical means … usually, either a massacre of individual creditors, or a mass destruction of property ownership records (including debts). That was pretty easy to accomplish in Europe back when most lenders were Jewish.

      Of course, the majority here probably think most lenders STILL are Jewish. Just like they think all those Jews were warned not to show up for work at the WTC on 9-11.

      1. Rick Halsen

        Ok. Well since you apparently know the makeup of lenders nowadays what the hell are they if they’re not Jewish?


  30. windcatcher

    Nice piece Quinn, I could almost hear Jack Nickelson screaming “You want the Truth; you can’t handle the Truth”
    Well, the hard reality is that financial physical Truth is coming to town and there can be no ignoring of it no matter how much the brainwashing media lies about it.

    The real problem is that the successful fascist bankster cartel’s well laid plan that has unfolded over the last 20 years has resulted in the banksters OWNING us through personal debt or by national debt. In banker terms we are “human garbage” that does not have the ability to pay their debt.

    Then what do you think the criminal banksters have planned for us in 2013-enslavement or genocide? History implies that the ignorant masses will comply and get in line because they are ignorant and confused; Americans have not intellectually evolved, they are as dumb as a medieval peasant.

  31. Dolph P.

    I agree with this article, except for one point.

    It turns out that new car sales are substantially down from their peak. So people might be buying trucks and SUVs, but fewer people are even in the new car market.

    Moreoever there are a great many good small cars coming out: the Cruze, Elantra, and Focus among them. And auto makers are in a race for mpg.

    I expect overall fleet efficiency to gradually increase. Not that this makes too much of a difference. If you are more efficient, you are tricked into driving more, as your fuel bills are less. It’s an efficiency paradox well described in a variety of areas.

    The only solution is to DRIVE LESS. Americans are obsessed with driving all over the place, to what end and for what purpose, God only knows.

  32. Mighty Booosh

    Didn’t these people used to walk around the streets wearing sandwich board signs? Is anyone else picturing Jim Ignatowski from the old Taxi show?
    And isn’t the best way to sell your crash program of whatever magic genius you thought of to start personally attacking anyone who questions your obvious genius and wisdom as traitors to the cause? Don’t the histrionics and ad hominem attacks really attract people to the sound logic and pure unquestionable truth behind the arguments? How’s the apocalypse going today? No the latest one.
    How diagnosable personality disorders on flagrant display and ranty internet posts help anyone or anything in this world I will never know. This was just a bizarre link.

    1. Jim Quinn

      You added so much to the debate with your boorish rant. I do notice that the usual suspects on this site never address the substance of the article. They just get their noses bent out of joint and heap scorn. Shocking that Yves allows such mindless drivel from commentors. LOL.

  33. solo

    Bravo for author Quinn for speaking the awful truth about the American polity! And bravo for Yves Smith for presenting the piece! The only serious shortcoming in Quinn’s narrative comes with his very last paragraph, entirely inconsistent with the rest of his argumentation: Having established that the American people, like their rulers, are morally and intellectually unfit for anything of collective human worth, Quinn ends with an appeal to exactly those folks just pronounced D.O.A. –This reveals Quinn, alas, as but a garden-variety liberal (aka bourgeois reformist) in radical costume. This time, his story concludes, can be different, if only . . . we were not what we most demonstrably are.

    1. Flakmeister

      For better or worse, the people who are DOA are the only hope. A new mandate can only come from the people, it cannot be thrust upon them. As much as I would like to change things by fiat, I know that it would not suceed and I would be as guilty as those that are currently responsible.

    2. Rick Halsen

      I don’t think The Mighty Quinn is a closet liberal pervert. In fact I think he gladly wears his liberal perverseness on his sleeve for all to see. Admirable.

      He also kinda reminds me of an Old Testament prophet who yells down to the valley to those that’ll listen that their end is nigh if they don’t fucking repent and fucking repent now. As a consequence his own people shun him as a fuddyduddy stick in the mud while he suffers their slings and arrows graciously (until he can’t stand it anymore and disparages a few here and there as hirsute mentally deficient cromagnums.) We just have to conclude that we won’t recognize him for the secular prophet that he is until well basically TSHTF. Until then, let’s party.

      Of course consuming shallow bastards that we are will never give him credit either no matter what. But you can be damndedly sure that The Mighty Quinn WILL have his day where he looks down upon us and yells for the last time…….

      “I told you so MOFOS!”


    1. Jim Quinn

      Abiotic oil is complete and utter bullshit. If oil is regenerating how come the barrels per day produced in the US has been declining relentlessly since 1970? Explain that please.

  34. ep3

    In regards to his automotive argument about buying versus leasing, I want to point out a couple things. I live in Michigan. The roads take a heavy toll on your vehicle; both with their poor condition and the snow and ice and road salt that eat away at the condition of your vehicle. Now I bought a new honda civic in 2002, paid it off, and recently sold it for something new (yes a lease). But over the course of owning it, i committed large amounts of money (multiples of 3-5 payments at a time) to repairs at least 6 times. None of this was from misuse. It was from component failure due to reasons listed above. And that doesn’t include the one time I hit a deer crossing the road that cost $2500 in damages to the front end. When I parted ways with it, the a/c did not work and required $1600 in repairs. Now this didn’t affect the basic function of the vehicle. I also did most minor repair work myself. But my point is that he’s using the some of the same “logic” persons use when telling persons how to use health care; save some magical sum so that every 5 years you get a physical and nothing happens in between. No cancer from the nuclear power plant down the street (oh that’s right, I am supposed to move). It’s basically a libertarian take.
    good points tho. we are selfish.

  35. Garrett Cohenour

    Thank you for the awesome post, I got alot out of it. I’d like to add your news feed to my website but cannot find it, do you have one available? I’ll return later for your reply. Thanks!

  36. James Barton

    Simple: scarcity, real or contrived, bends the supply-demand curve in favor of supply-shortage which translates to higher price of course. Simple economics 101. Look to the Debeers (sp?)contrived rarity/shortage of diamonds as an example or thtat of the 70s oil “shortage.” Remember? If you do ANY study of the issue of US oil production, you will find that there is more shale-oil in the west and more oil on the Alaska north slope than all know other oil reserves in the world. Saving for a rainy day perhaps?

    1. Flakmeister

      Ummm… oil shales, or more properly, kerogen is the mineral precusor to oil. There are large deposits in the western US. The mineral has the energy density of a baked potato. Despite 30+ years of R&D by the oil majors, no one has a viable technology to exploit this resource.

      There is also shale oil, e.g. Bakken which is real oil trapped in rock such that flow rates are low. This is being developed but it is capital intensive.

      Based on your demonstated understanding of petroleum geology, you have nary a fucking clue about oil production in the United States.

      If you think that there was “low hanging fruit”

    2. Flakmeister

      Ummm… oil shales, or more properly, kerogen is the mineral precusor to oil. There are large deposits in the western US. The mineral has the energy density of a baked potato. Despite 30+ years of R&D by the oil majors, no one has a viable technology to exploit this resource.

      There is also shale oil, e.g. Bakken which is real oil trapped in rock such that flow rates are low. This is being developed but it is capital intensive.

      Based on your demonstated understanding of petroleum geology, you have nary a clue about oil production in the United States.

  37. william C wesley

    To me this is like a strait list of facts, although the author puts feeling into it its really just the unadorned truth.

    Going back in time propaganda has always been with us but imagine the delight that the tyrants and dictators of the past would have experienced if they could have had TELEVISIONS to indoctrinate their people!

    Every night every American can hang out with the rich and famous soaking in the illusion that they are part of it all….while they sit alone doing nothing having zero effect on anything. Its the ultimate passivity inducer.

    In a way the authorities promoted 1984 and Brave New World as literature in schools because on both counts we could then pretend to be avoiding what we had already become.

    My father wrote a book called “Ecophysics” that explained the current era as a desperate evolutionary struggle between human and machine with machine winning by force AND seduction on all sides, The wealthy are seduced by technology economically and the impoverished are reduced by technology militarily but all of it goes against the long term survival of humans. The powerful must replace humans with machines in order to remain powerful, most wealth is technologically derived by replacing human beings. Most people today are window dressing, with no real function. a new war will solve it all most likely.

  38. James Barton

    Hey Flakmeister:
    We are talking abiotic here not oil prod in U.S. per se. Think you ate the fruit already.

    Supporting Evidence, Briefly
    * Oil being discovered at 30,000 feet, far below the 18,000 feet where organic matter is no longer found.
    * Wells pumped dry later replenished.
    * Volume of oil pumped thus far not accountable from organic material alone according to present models.
    * In Situ production of methane under the conditions that exist in the Earth’s upper mantle. (PhysicsWeb; Sept. 14, 2004)

    Expounding the Theory

    * Titan’s Organic Hydrocarbons Dwarf Earth’s Oil Reserves – Data from the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn has shown that the ringed planet’s moon has “hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth.” (Wired; Feb. 13, 2008)

  39. James Barton

    Amazon.com Description of Thomas Gold’s book [link above]:

    Suppose someone claimed that we are NOT running out of petroleum. . . . Or that life on Earth began below the surface, in the dark airless pores of our planet’s rocky crust. Or that oil and gas — so-called “fossil fuels” — are not the product of biological debris. You might expect to hear statements like these from an author of science fiction. But what if they come from a renowned scientist, someone who has been called “one of the world’s most original minds”? In THE DEEP HOT BIOSPHERE, Thomas Gold sets forth truly controversial and astonishing theories: First, he proposes that Earth supports a subterranean organic domain of greater mass and volume than the biosphere — the total sum of living things — on its surface. Second, he proposes that the organisms inhabiting this Deep Hot Biosphere are not plants or animals but heat-loving bacteria that survive on a diet of hydrocarbons — natural gas and petroleum. And third and perhaps most amazingly, he advances the stunning idea that most hydrocarbons on Earth are not “fossil fuels” but part of the primordial “stuff” from which Earth itself was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. The Deep Hot Biosphere may seem difficult to believe at first glance, but its theories are supported by a growing body of evidence, and by the indisputable stature and seriousness Thomas Gold brings to any scientific enterprise. In this book we see a brilliant and boldly original thinker, increasingly a rarity in modern science, as he develops revolutionary conclusions about the fundamental workings of our planet, the origins of life on Earth, the nature of earthquakes, and even the likelihood of life on — or within — other planets.

  40. James Barton

    Abiotic Theory

    Abiotic theory aims to establish the provenance of modern petroleum science and is based on fundamentals of physics, particularly thermodynamics, and chemistry.
    Read on

    High pressure and temperature experiments confirmed the theory when a “suite” of petroleum fluids (methane, ethane, propane, etc.) was observed to evolve from inorganic constituents. These experimental conditions correspond to oil genesis occurring at 100 km or greater beneath the earth.

    Proponents of the abiotic theory argue that hydrocarbons are naturally produced on a continual basis throughout the solar system, including deep within the mantle of the earth. Some main points are:

    * Methane is a common molecule found in huge concentrations and at great depth in the Earth
    * At the mantle-crust interface, located between 7km to 30km, rising methane-based gasses hit pockets of high temperature causing condensation of heavier hydrocarbons, giving rise to crude oil formation
    * In the relatively cooler and more geologically stable regions around the globe, crude oil pools into reservoirs (Fig 1)

    Observations have been made around the globe of several oil reservoirs refilling themselves. For example, the Eugene Island reservoir is filling from the bottom up and not from the sides as may have been expected.
    Duplex Theory

    In a Nature article (No. 199, pp113-4, 1966), Sir Robert Robinson argued that both petroleum origin theories, organic and inorganic, are correct and that petroleum has a duplex origin.

    The established fossil fuels theory is a finite theory of relatively shallow reserves, leading to scarcity as expounded by the peak oil hypothesis. On the other hand, abiotic theory is a theory of plenty – relatively deep reserves require that oil be searched according to this new paradigm.

    The abiotic theory is not yet widely accepted and has been criticised as deficient. For example Geoffrey P. Glasby (“Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Perspective”, Resource Geology, vol. 56, no. 1, 85-98, 2006) put forward a range of objections – from the mechanistic model to its practical method of application. On the other hand, scientists from the abiotic camp vehemently reject the fossil fuels theory of petroleum.

    Read more at Suite101: The Origins of Petroleum: A Look at the Inorganic Abiotic and Organic Fossil Fuels Theories http://www.suite101.com/content/theories-on-origin-of-petroleum-a54954#ixzz18On9bGHN

  41. James Barton

    You’ll need some newly formed brain cells to be enabled to take this new paradigm in. Don’t forget; the world was once “flat.”

    HOUSTON — Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 330.

    Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330’s output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.

    Then suddenly — some say almost inexplicably — Eugene Island’s fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.

    Fill ‘er Up

    All of which has led some scientists to a radical theory: Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself, perhaps from some continuous source miles below the Earth’s surface. That, they say, raises the tantalizing possibility that oil may not be the limited resource it is assumed to be.

    “It kind of blew me away,” says Jean Whelan, a geochemist and senior researcher from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Connected to Woods Hole since 1973, Dr. Whelan says she considered herself a traditional thinker until she encountered the phenomenon in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, she says, “I believe there is a huge system of oil just migrating” deep underground.

    Conventional wisdom says the world’s supply of oil is finite, and that it was deposited in horizontal reservoirs near the surface in a process that took millions of years. Since the economies of entire countries ride on the fundamental notion that oil reserves are exhaustible, any contrary evidence “would change the way people see the game, turn the world view upside down,” says Daniel Yergin, a petroleum futurist and industry consultant in Cambridge, Mass. “Oil and renewable resource are not words that often appear in the same sentence.”

    Mideast Mystery

    Doomsayers to the contrary, the world contains far more recoverable oil than was believed even 20 years ago. Between 1976 and 1996, estimated global oil reserves grew 72%, to 1.04 trillion barrels. Much of that growth came in the past 10 years, with the introduction of computers to the oil patch, which made drilling for oil more predictable.

    Still, most geologists are hard-pressed to explain why the world’s greatest oil pool, the Middle East, has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite half a century of intense exploitation and relatively few new discoveries. It would take a pretty big pile of dead dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to account for the estimated 660 billion barrels of oil in the region, notes Norman Hyne, a professor at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. “Off-the-wall theories often turn out to be right,” he says.

    Even some of the most staid U.S. oil companies find the Eugene Island discoveries intriguing. “These reservoirs are refilling with oil,” acknowledges David Sibley, a Chevron Corp. geologist who has monitored the work at Eugene Island.

    Mr. Sibley cautions, however, that much research remains to be done on the source of that oil. “At this point, it’s not black and white. It’s gray,” he says.

    Although the world has been drilling for oil for generations, little is known about the nature of the resource or the underground activities that led to its creation. And because even conservative estimates say known oil reserves will last 40 years or more, most big oil companies haven’t concerned themselves much with hunting for deep sources like the reservoirs scientists believe may exist under Eugene Island.

    Economics never hindered the theorists, however. One, Thomas Gold, a respected astronomer and professor emeritus at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has held for years that oil is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the Earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs, he says.

    While many scientists discount Prof. Gold’s theory as unproved, “it made a believer out of me,” says Robert Hefner, chairman of Seven Seas Petroleum Inc., a Houston firm that specializes in ultradeep drilling and has worked with the professor on his experiments. Seven Seas continues to use “conventional” methods in seeking reserves, though the halls of the company often ring with dissent. “My boss and I yell at each other all the time about these theories,” says Russ Cunningham, a geologist and exploration manager for Seven Seas who isn’t sold on Prof. Gold’s ideas.

    Energy Vacuum

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