Johnson: Elites Eying the Exits Signals America’s Crisis

Yves here. A former private equity partner mentioned the New Yorker story on 0.1% bunkering. He noticed how they focused on the private jet pilot as a point of vulnerability, that he might fly his family out and leave them stranded. So the approach is to assure him that his relatives get seats on the plane too.

Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Interviewed as part of an extraordinary New Yorker investigation into growing anxiety among America’s corporate elite over the potential for anarchic social collapse, Institute President Robert Johnson saw his peers’ talk of bolt-holes in New Zealand as reflecting a deeper crisis.

Johnson told writer Evan Osnos of the mounting anxiety he had encountered among hedge-fund managers and other wealthy Americans he knew. “More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane,” Johnson said. “You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’ ”

Osnos writes: “By January, 2015, Johnson was sounding the alarm: the tensions produced by acute income inequality were becoming so pronounced that some of the world’s wealthiest people were taking steps to protect themselves. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Johnson told the audience, ‘I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.’ ”

Johnson bemoaned the lack of a “spirit of stewardship” and openness to more aggressively redistributive tax policy among the wealthy.

“Twenty-five hedge-fund managers make more money than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined,” he told the New Yorker. “Being one of those twenty-five doesn’t feel good. I think they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity.”

If anything, Osnos wrote, inequality is widening, noting recent statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research that showed that while incomes for the top 1 percent of Americans have nearly tripled, half of the population was earning at the same level they did in 1980, comparing America’s wealth gap to that seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“If we had a more equal distribution of income, and much more money and energy going into public school systems, parks and recreation, the arts, and health care, it could take an awful lot of sting out of society,” Johnson said. “We’ve largely dismantled those things.”

He saw elite anxiety as an indicator America’s social crisis.

“Why do people who are envied for being so powerful appear to be so afraid?” Johnson said. “What does that really tell us about our system? It’s a very odd thing. You’re basically seeing that the people who’ve been the best at reading the tea leaves—the ones with the most resources, because that’s how they made their money—are now the ones most preparing to pull the rip cord and jump out of the plane.”

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  1. L

    Not to be too snarky this early in the morning but:

    “Twenty-five hedge-fund managers make more money than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined,” he told the New Yorker. “Being one of those twenty-five doesn’t feel good. I think they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity.”

    If it does not feel good then stop doing it.

    As presently structured the kindergarden teachers lack the power to upend the political order and to create something equal. Despite widespread support for better schools the political parties compete to crapify them for the benefit of those hedge fund managers.

    If one or two those managers chose to place a damn phone call they could change that, they could make a more equal society, they could reduce the odds that they will be up against a wall.

    Instead they buy planes.

    1. Slim Boom

      Amen! This issue drives a nail through the conservative ideal of personal responsibility and self manufacturing. If your poor then it’s your fault. You’re too stupid, lazy, etc. to succeed. But if your rich and hated, well then, you’re just a victim of the system and institutions that created you.

      This reminds me of a comic I recently read. Enjoy.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Escaping via plane? What if the private pilot turns against you?

      Or you get to the runway, but can’t leave? I am thinking of Congressman Ryan at Jonestown.

      1. Vatch

        What if the private pilot turns against you?

        Yes, that’s one of the points of the article. The oligarchs need to assure the pilot that his family will be permitted to escape with them on the plane. It’s funny, but at the same time, it’s creepy..

        1. nowhere

          As if the pilot couldn’t also bring a friend’s family rather than the pompous ass’s family.

          “Wait, have more of my worthless cash and treasuries!”

          1. B1whois

            I have to wonder what then happens to the family when they are arrive at the new location. I imagine they become servants?

                1. different clue

                  Or perhaps the pilots and the security guards and the private army-members might just exterminate the rich people who hired them and keep all the nice houses and food and pretty-young-members of the rich peoples’ families for themselves instead.

                  1. Robert Hahl

                    No, it doesn’t work like that. You might read King Rat, about building and keeping a store of riches in a prisoner of war camp.

                    1. animalogic

                      Interesting book, Robert H…whole thing reminds of the old saying about rats leaving a sinking ship…?

        2. Praedor

          Problem: where’s the cutoff for the pilot’s family? Is it ONLY their spouse and kids? How would that pilot and his/her spouse feel about abandoning their own brothers, sisters, parents, etc? Maybe that private jet should be a Dreamliner capable of holding SKADS of people so the pilot can get his/her immediate family, siblings, THEIR significant others, etc, etc, on board.

          Or you have to be certain to only hire loner psychopath pilots. Those with no personal attachments. Then just watch your back because your hired pilot is as much of a psychopath as you are as a hedge fund manager.

        3. animalogic

          Funny — why do they think they might be safe somewhere like New Zealand ? Do they think NZ’ers are fools or cowards ? They’re in for a rude surprise (especially, given how badly NZ workers have been treated by neo liberalism).

        1. Altandmain

          Not that easy.

          1. They would need spare parts for the airplane and fuel.
          2. They need a safe place to land.
          3. When they land they need a reliable place to live.

          That reliable place to live also needs to have food and other supplies. I bet most of these rich jerks could not reliably farm their own food. They would need servants then. Perhaps they should not have looked down on working class people with contempt or stolen their money.

          This could be solved by going back to the 1950s of shared prosperity.

            1. Paid Minion

              Hint to everyone. The rich guys worried about this are the 1%’s version of “preppers”. 90% of the 1% have no contingency plan whatsoever.

              What they do have is second homes. Or third homes. Florida/California/Arizona for the winter, and Wyoming/Colorado/Montana during the summer.

              Many of these places are geographically isolated, with a local population base highly motivated to protect their stuff from the Zombie Apocalypse. And hostile to the wretched refuse from the coasts and metroplexes. Not to mention heavily armed.

              Yeah, a smart leader of the wretched refuse could lay siege to these places. But I suspect they will be too busy protecting their own turf, rather than going a couple of hundred miles out in the boonies to look for trouble.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                These aren’t 1%. They are 0.1%. And Omidyar is big on this, he has multiple homes well stocked in all sorts of isolated places.

                You are missing that the New Yorker and Johnson says this is pretty prevalent in the 0.1%. And these people have better access to information than the rest of us and many of them have made their money by making astute bets about the future.

                1. Jimmy

                  Omidyar sounds like a guy that worries a lot. I hope that having a lot of well-stocked places provides him with the peace he’s trying to buy. Unlike a lot of other .1% people, he is cycling some money back into various economies? Food, maintenance, guards, taxes. I see prepping as being a form of insurance – a way to keep what you have for a price. Omidyar probably also likes the idea of owning a bunch of stuff. I read this today and figured, I’m never going to have a private jet, but do have a 46′ sailboat that could be outfitted to get to New Zealand. Then I googled sailing to New Zealand from California and it kind of looks like a serious challenge, but the article is an excuse for me to spend some more money and time on my boat and makes me feel not so stupid for owning it in the first place.

                  1. bob

                    “Unlike a lot of other .1% people, he is cycling some money back into various economies?”

                    If that was a statement, NO. He’s not. He’s specifically targeted 3rd world countries for payday loans. Pierre doesn’t believe that anything can be done without a profit motive attached.

                    If he were leaving anything locally, he would be a hypocrite. There are horror stories about his micro finance rackets.

                  2. Grant H

                    Those who can survive the passage to New Zealand will be deemed competent sailors, one of the prerequisites for NZ citizenship…

                2. homeroid

                  I think many have bought into our hamlet by the sea. Should it show that it puts money into our local economy. Well i will see.In the mean time thanks Yves and Lambert. There is a chair next to my wood stove just for you.

              2. Octopii

                Pretty sure every rich guy I know has some sort of contingency plan in place, both locally and elsewhere. Panic rooms are not uncommon, or at least a small portion of the house set up so that it can be secured and in one case air sealed. Chemical agent sniffers, laser boundary sensors, radar-based intrusion systems, see in the dark cameras, solar/battery backups, multiple generators, fresh water tanks, large-scale reverse osmosis water purification, chemical toilets, food storage. I assume weaponry and cash. The really dirty ones, particularly those from 3rd world countries, are the most concerned about security, ie situational awareness and active defense. Even the ones that don’t seem to have a real plan (that I’m aware of) stock food and water.

        2. Pavel

          [Just to be snarky]

          They can sign up to those pilot schools in Florida who trained a bunch of aeronautically-challenged Saudis with a few Cessna planes to pilot Boeing jets and perform precision manoeuvres that experienced pilots said were almost impossible.


          1. Ernesto Lyon

            Please ban this user for WTC CT.

            We all know the scientist on the TV show said it was not true.


      2. Paid Minion

        They had better be planning on taking me too. And my hottie new girlfriend, who I’m sure I could acquire quickly, if the SHTF. ROTFLMAO……….for the want of a horseshoe nail/electrical pin/22 gage wire.

        I know tons of ways to sabotage a corporate jet, so it won’t even start, and will take a week for someone to figure out where the problem is. Assuming they can find a mechanic who will risk trying to get to the airplane. Paybacks are a bi##h

        but……. “I’m a Pilot” (Warning: “GDs” and “F-bombs”)

        1. animalogic

          Dear Paid M, please reflect on the use of term: “f-bomb”. This site is enjoyed by ADULTS. No adult should be offended by the use of the word “fuck” when used appropriately, & within context (& not used insultingly against reader or family personally). When used inappropriately & self indulgently it is a sad reflection on its user.

    3. optimader

      As presently structured the kindergarden teachers lack the power to upend the political order and to create something equal.

      They need to politically organize around a platform of nap time and time outs for the naughty!.

    4. cocomaan

      If you ascribe to Łobaczewski’s Political Ponerology, or even the Five Percenters, these super rich individuals aren’t normal. They don’t think like most of the population.

      It doesn’t take much to know that the systems we’ve created are designed to promote and reward an unempathetic person. And while I’m not always convinced entirely by Łobaczewski’s words, or the five percenters, one gets the feeling that the twenty five hedge fund managers in question are incapable of thinking any other way.

      1. a different chris

        Actually we didn’t create the systems we sat on our butts and the unempathetic people took advantage. The problem with high-functioning psychopaths is, as we all know, they can fake normal for necessary stretches of time.

        1. John k

          It’s more insidious than that. Increasing wealth decreases empathy.
          The poor are much more likely to care for and help their neighbors than the rich.
          The ability to pull the rip cord and bail to a hopefully safer place makes you think of the need to take the pilot’s family, not the neighbor’s.

        2. YankeeFrank

          And yet even guys like this Johnson fellow can’t seem to drop that last line of hogwash — that these rich people are best at “reading the tea leaves” — rather than that they were just lucky in one or two decisions or friendships. Give me a break. The rich are rich because they are lucky and immoral. That’s really it. Until the people fully learn this lesson to their bones this country will continue its decline. Good news is most of the millennials seem to have largely been born knowing it.

          1. Anon


            Read “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton G. Malkiel. (Old book, revised, reprinted.)

            His point is: if Rockefeller was so smart, why couldn’t he duplicate his successes on Wall
            Street. There are certainly good strategies for investing on Wall Street, but lady luck is also essential.

            1. PhilM

              That is not a scientific study. That is a misrepresenting headline, topping contents that in turn misrepresent what they call “research,” which is in fact a conference presentation (the lowest form of life on the great chain of research being), of something that is still not accessible to peer review yet, and in fact may never be published.

              But leaving aside that it is unfalsifiable because no proposition is actually available to test, what is presented just does not say what the headline says.

              From the link: “Research conducted by forensic psychologist Nathan Brooks from Bond University found 21 per cent of 261 corporated professionals had clinically significant psychopathic traits.”

              This says something about corporate professionals, not CEOs; about traits, not personality disorders. So that headline is rubbish.

              The following link


              which I bothered to track down, contains words that may actually mean something, as in, they were used by people who understand their definitions. It talks about “traits”; and the traits identified are simply Cluster B traits that are mostly common in varying degrees to several personality types that have disorders under that category.

              Moreover, there is no discussion that these corporate types are CEOs; no numbers, no job categories, no way to get at them; no diagnoses of “antisocial personality disorder,” which is something wise psychiatrists use in writing only after conclusive and overwhelming evidence is compiled.

              Garbage from the bottom to the top: there is no science there of any kind. That is not to say there could not be in the future, but it is not there now.

    5. Robert Hahl

      Private jets only have a range of about 1,400 miles. You can’t get to NZ in one hop even in a G5, so you better get going before the real trouble starts.

      One day at Teterboro in New Jersey, I overheard two Westwind pilots planning a downwind takeoff even though there are three intersecting runways and they could have done a standard upwind takeoff. One of them told me later in private (since this is illegal) that when they got to Oklahoma City they would have only 10 minutes of fuel and needed to take off in the direction of flight. Nothing extra to turn around. Its amazing they don’t crash more often.

      1. Paid Minion

        ….range of about 1400 miles” BS.

        The airplane I babysit can make anywhere in Europe with one stop in Halifax/Bangor. (Falcon 900)

        A G550 can go Dallas – Dubai or Dallas – Tokyo non-stop (including fuel reserves)

        1. dale


          The Gulfstream G650 Range. At a long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.85, the Gulfstream G650 flies 7,000 nautical miles/12,964 kilometers nonstop with eight passengers. Los Angeles to London is more than 30 minutes faster and New York to Tokyo almost an hour closer compared to other large-cabin aircraft.

        2. bob

          It’s the netjets, for the lower class that still rents, that have the range limits.


          Jets are so hard for normal people to size up and measure. Most simply see a “private jet”. There are huge differences between them. They all need one thing though- A very long runway. I don’t think that’s really “sustainable” in any sort of long term collapse.

          Do they make a seaplane that can be fit inside a G550? You could sell that.

    6. witters

      But if someone did this, then the other 24 would get some of the benefit for nothing. And that is why he won’t do it.

    7. Jimmy

      Maybe “kindergarten teachers” was not a great comparison, but I think their salary of $50-$60K a year (national average) is not too shabby. ‘If it does not feel good then stop doing it”? I suppose kindergarten teachers have a choice too and could start running hedge funds? Actually, what I hear is a lot of hedge fund managers are getting shut down and are going to have a harder time. I really am not very sympathetic and think that the financial sector as a whole is getting paid too much, however, I think there are a whole lot of people who would die to be making $50-$60K a year, and if there was an adjustment, I’d kind of figure that the folks that really are on the bottom should get some help.

  2. rd

    Why do they think the places they are going to will be immune from the upheaval? A lot of people leave places thinking they will be safe in the new place, and then the disorder spreads and hits them again. Many refugees in WW II were turned into refugees multiple times (if they survived) – many of them had started out in the elite and wealthy in their country. Similar things are happening in the Middle East now.

    They also are betting that they can identify the moment in which to leave and will be able to do so safely. The odds of doing that are similar to calling the day of the big plunge in the stock market a week in advance. Airports are usually one of the first places that organized rebellions or coups seek to control, so getting there through rioting crowds will not necessarily solve their escape route issue. As many evacuation plans (e.g. New Orleans in Katrina) have shown, events have the ability to confound plans.

    I assume that their concerns about inequality and anarchy is why so many are lobbying to destabilize Social Security and Medicare in order to erase all hope for the bottom 80%, so that they will believe that anarchy and rebellion is the only solution. The creation of anarchy and rebellion is generally the result of intentional acts by the elite to marginalize much of the population. It is a choice, not an inevitability. But it is probably like teen sex, where they know they aren’t supposed to do it but they just can’t stop themselves. Just say NO elites! You are supposed to be able to control those greed impulses. Inequality celibacy is the solution.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia


      If America goes “mad max” the rest of the civilized world isn’t going to be far behind. The likely landing sites for those private jets are in Europe, Canada or other G-7 type of nations.

      Unless you have enough money to buy a private island, and hire a security force to protect you, chances of staying immune are slim, IMO. Few will be able to pull this off.

      1. nowhere

        The idea of hiring other people to protect you implies that you have something of value that those with primitive power cannot take from you when they please. I’m not sure what “currency” that would be in a post apocalyptic world.

        1. a different chris

          Authoritarians look for “leadership”…. if you can fake that then its not hard to get people to protect your “wealth”, whatever that happens to consist of, for a share of it and power over those below.

        2. River

          That’s what I was thinking with the guards at the missile silo condos. Or the other servants.

          What happens when the people the guns decide not to serve? Or worse you anger the dentist.

          “Is it safe?”

        3. Praedor

          Read the New Yorker article! These rich geniuses are stocking up on gold and bitcoin!. HAH. As if bitcoin would be worth squat in a collapse situation.

          “Let me just plug in my laptop so I can get to my digital bitcoin vault and pay you…oh. Uh…would you accept my daughter as payment?”

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, all that bitcoin is going to be really useful when you need medical services from one of the few doctors left, or when the locals show up with guns at your compound wanting some of your grain.

          2. nowhere

            I think that a problem with gold, is that in any large systemic collapse, it is still a worthless hunk of metal. Sure, sure ancient civilizations have always valued gold (and other precious metals), but those were still functioning societies with structures in place to distribute the necessities for living.

            In a post-apocalyptic collapse the true resources will be food, medicine, weapons, and larger social groups that can provide protection and labor.

            When in survivor mode, I don’t think you would be too worried about a medium for exchanging value.

            1. Higgs Boson

              These super-rich people have spent a lot of time and energy denigrating fiat currency. Gold bugs have too much emotionally invested in the belief that gold coins or bullion are “true money” and anything else is “worthless scraps of paper”.

              The “impending collapse” can be averted if these elites would stop the neoliberal nonsense and let currency-issuing sovereign governments do their job. They would still get to keep their money.

              But no; they can’t stand the idea that economies simply do not exist without the state that issues the currency. The end game is to privatize everything.

              Transfer all the public resources into their private hands, in exchange for the smallest amount of “worthless scraps of paper” they have bled from everyone else. Having accomplished that, drown said currency-issuing sovereign government in a bathtub using all the self-imposed constraints their politician lackeys put in place.

              Mission accomplished. When there is no more money, the people who have titles and deeds to all the land and other physical resources are the kings. The rest are just serfs.

      2. Moneta

        Elites are not all equal… if the system implodes and consumers can’t spend, the rich who got that way from non-essential consumer spending will fall faster than those who got rich on staples. My bet is that if times get tough, these elite will stab each other in the back.

      3. Paid Minion

        The 1%ers I’m acquainted with aren’t going to Europe anymore. Too many “immigrants” from the Middle East hacking/shooting/blowing s##t up.

        Think Japan, Austrailia, Fiji, Singapore, American Samoa

      4. Brian M

        what I don’t understand w/r/t preppers is why they so desperately want to survive at all costs? Despite its myriad problems, I like “civilization” and living in a fortified bunker or private island sounds miserable.

    2. FCO

      I heard someone say making money was as addictive as heroine, cocaine etc. So, “just say NO” may not be as easy as it sounds. ( One day, we may see Money Rehab Centers in New Zealand? or Davos?)

      1. Scott

        Well, jail those addicted to money the way we already jail those addicted to the drugs you mention. As an added bonus, while they’re locked up they can make some scratch from the increase in value of their private prison stock holdings . . . off shore, of course.

    3. vlade

      NZ is food self-sufficient (it’s a net food exporter), energy self-sufficient, and far enough for anyone to invade easily – especially if you assume “stone age”/”mad max” scenario (i.e. you don’t get there easily like you might to Oz from Indonesia). If you get a large farm in NZ, you can become pretty much self-sufficient reasonably easily.

      NZ population is about 4.5m, on area of the size of Great Britain (the island, not the nation). Most of that is concentrated in a few cities – say more than half is in the North Island, which is the smaller one. But even in North Island there is a LOT of space.

      So, NZ can be the perfect bunker for a squillionaire.

      1. Webb Traverse

        sure, assuming these squillionaires know how to be self-sufficient. How long has it been since any of these rich and “powerful” actually cooked a meal? Or changed a light bulb? Or done routine maintenance on anything? Self sufficiency ain’t easy. I’m reminded of the elite civilization in Hitchhiker’s Guide that all died of infection from dirty phones after they shipped all the worthless mouths, including phone cleaners, off planet. 50 pesos says these New Zealand-bound richies starve to death when they can’t figure out how to use the microwave to cook their foie gras. Good riddance.

        1. vlade

          Actually, you’d be surprised.

          Sure, there’s a lot of them who are pampered beyond the kings of yore. But quite a few them spend their time doing stuff like wilderness trekking/survival, even running their own ranches etc. What part of the squillionaire population that is is hard to say, but the hedgies I spoke to in 2007/8 (of which most were sub-suillionaires TBH, mere centa-millionairies) were well aware of this and some of them even too to doing agri uni courses just for that. I met more people who knew about (for example) permaculture between those people than any other group.

          1. Webb Traverse

            Ha, marvelous! I find the fact that they’ve been fearfully looking over their shoulder since at least 2007/2008 delightful. Make Elites Great Again indeed.

            1. Webb

              And I think we would all be well served if they went back and re-read (i’m assuming they don’t spend a lot of time practicing) their Holmgren and Mollison. Permaculture doesn’t mean what they think it means

          2. PhilM

            This is true. Look at Oliver Queen! Seriously, though, the hilarious thing from the article is Steve Huffman saying he’s likely to be a leader after the apocalypse, because he is a “leader” now. Sure, tell it to Trotsky when you meet him in the next world, buddy.

            By the way, having myself made so many errors using SI units, some in this very locale, I will still submit that people with hundreds of millions of dollars might properly be labeled hectomillionaires.

      2. Eowyn

        It’s a shame to turn NZ into a billionaire’s bolt hole. Not much they can or will do about it, however.

        1. Mike G

          Maybe the Kiwis will be smart enough to say, “These infamous rich guys make us a target for people who hate them, don’t let them in.”

      3. Waking Up

        In this “mad max” scenario, who will control the thousands of nuclear bombs around the world? In addition, will the “squillionaire” be safe on the island of New Zealand after they brought about conditions leading up to chaos due to their endless greed? Wouldn’t it be more likely that the conclusion would be to drop the first bombs in the locations where the wealthy congregate?

        Although I understand the psychology behind wealth acquisition, it still amazes me that someone would rather see chaos in the world (and even in their local environment) before they would give up their wealth.

    4. Dave

      One truck parked on the runway, or a large concrete block dumped there has just shut down the entire airport for the private jets fleeing or arriving to pick up the exiters in anything other than a helicopter.

      May I suggest a name for a new political party?

      “The Guillotine Party”

      1. vlade

        In 2007-8 the trend was go get a sailing boat, full of provisions, moored in driving distance. Not so conspicious, doesn’t rely on large infrastructure (it’s not just take-off airport, it’s also air-control, refuelling stops etc.). Of course, you must know how to sail it (which lot o hedgies do) and navigate (which fewer can do w/o GPS).

        1. Synoia

          Not that safe. There are many containers floating in the Pacific, just below sea level. I also suspect they are not good sailors.

          Us sail people refer to motor boats as gin Palaces, because of the behavior of the Motor Boat people.

        2. Octopii

          The Orlov school, right. Romantic. Trouble is, you have to come in for food and repairs every once in a while. And you move very, very slowly relative to anyone else who might want come have a look at you. Being at sea makes one more vulnerable, not less.

      2. Paid Minion

        The 1%ers will be long gone before the zombies get the news that the S has HTF.

        They won’t even need to leave the USA to find “safe havens” The Chinese 1% have figured this out already, as real estate sales of the West Coast should indicate.

        The Midwest/Plains state farmers are much more likely to sell food to 1%ers in isolated mountain/desert enclaves, than the coast-based wretched refuse.

        Face it. The “Zombie Apocalypse” is a win-win for the 1%ers. Not that I like it. But you gotta remember that the Apocalypse will burn itself out in a relatively short time. It won’t be the 1%ers who will get hammered; the 1%ers will throw the suburban 10%ers to the wolves. And even if they start at step zero on Day One, they have tons of resources to develop a plan.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Look at the Paulson/Bloomberg/I forget who else county by county forecast of temps in 2040.

          The Upper Midwest will turn into a bake oven.

          And they want NZ for the self sufficiency and isolation. If outsiders are trading with you, they know where you are and can take what you have. That is what they fear over all.

    5. Moneta

      Look at what happened to Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin (paranoid), Hussein, Gaddafi… the list goes on…

      These people are delusional and believe they are above the system…

      1. JonboinAR

        But I imagine a lot of powerful figures who were more behind the scenes did escape, their plans having succeeded.

      2. inhibi

        Look at all the Industrialists behind Hitler, almost none of which were tried for their crimes and most kept their wealth (that is still around today).

        Reality is a lot harsher than most realize. Most revolutions end with little change; or, change that simply invokes a new circle of elite. Look at all the coups & revolutions in Brazil. It went nowhere. One oppressive regime replaced by another.

        The Elites may not yet realize how un-exceptional they are. But what they do realize is that in the Age of Information, everyone else knows how un-exceptional they are. We also know how much EXCEPTION they get from the system which is basically everything important: taxes, healthcare, and most importantly, the law.

        I’m just waiting for the Black Swan moment. My prediction is simple: the Millenials will eventually near their mid thirties en-masse in the next decade. They will begin to realize, if they haven’t already, that not only did the banks cause and get away with one of the largest bubbles in history, but the banks will also get all the realstate owned by the baby boomers that are already up to their eyes in debt, and that their children (Millenials) wont be able to pay off in their entire lifetime due to lower socio-economic standards, student loans, available full-time jobs, etc.

        Essentially, the Elites of the Baby Boomer generation, that love to constantly illustrate how dumb the Millenials are, already sowed the destruction of their own system. They killed affordable healthcare. They killed affordable housing, and thus forced the rentier economy. They killed affordable education. They killed reasonable taxation. Thus, the current Millenial is stuck between massively rising costs of living and little to no availability of well paying jobs.

        They killed the heart of consumerism and are now, some decades later, realizing it.

        1. rd

          The US and Britain wanted to keep the “good Germans” in place to stave off the Soviet Union. Without that support and the Marshall Plan, the German industrialists would have been scrabbling for potatoes after WW II.

    6. amousie

      For rebellions of this type, are they driven by the lowly peons or people closer to the level of the elites?

  3. Gilford

    I’ve had hedge fund clients who have been prepping for 15 years. They always pestered me for info because of my military and certified redneck background. I’ve always thought that people in small rural farm communities have a better chance than 1%ers with all their capital. You need a bit of arable land, water source, and the ability to band with friends, neighbors, and family to defend it with arms. Nothing that sophisticated.

    I suspect the real deficiency for the 1%ers is not bunkers, planes, and gas masks…. it’s not having enough true comrades if the s really does hit the f.

    1. cocomaan

      Not to mention that the 1%’ers have no real skills. I doubt they pay attention to the passing of seasons, understand animal breeding or how plants grow, or how to talk with normal human beings without beginning with either an adversarial or a monetary relationship. They have never had calluses. They’ve never done backbreaking work in the rain or snow. Many of them probably haven’t driven themselves anywhere in years.

      New Zealand is an extremely rugged place. Farming in New Zealand has got to be tough. Hope they like mutton! NZ also imports a lot of their fossil fuels as well as their computers, machinery, cars, etc. Can you see a financial officer trying to seat a plowshare to work the side of a mountain? I can’t.

      1. petal

        I reckon they think they will hire/buy someone to do those things for them. They’ve always been able to, right? “Come work for me doing these things and I’ll make sure you’re fed and have a roof over your head.” Or they think “how hard can it really be?” because the dumb serfs do it.

      2. jrs

        maybe you underestimate the 1% the way some supposedly underestimate Trump. They might be tougher and more skilled than you think. But what should not be underestimated is the cruelty and lack of basic morality represented in the 1% prepper mentality.

        1. cocomaan

          Maybe I am. But there’s interesting hobbies and then there’s actual hard work. Working hard and having a personal trainer aren’t the same thing.

        2. Altandmain

          Some rich no doubt have decent survivability skills.

          The thing is, they need allies. In a collapse situation, it’s not “every man for himself”, it is “every community for itself”. They would have to bribe a large segment of the Kiwi population if they flee to NZ or wherever they are hiding. Typically if somewhere collapses, then the gangs take over. Without a decent community you are helpless against them.

          If the US melts down, that would lead to global economic meltdown. New Zealand would not be very far behind.

          Compounding that, the rich are often ruthless. They may be mentally competent, but ruthless. They will alienate locals if that happens. Without an entire community that is capable of survival skills, their odds aren’t good. They need the locals on their side. They will stand out if they try to “blend in”.

          New Zealand, although inequality has risen, once idealized itself as an egalitarian culture. As far as the other destinations like Canada and much of Europe is also a lot more economically egalitarian in its outlook. Hint: The rest of the West is not as brainwashed as the US is by right wing economic propaganda.

          One very big danger is that a collapse may worsen inequality. A good example might be Argentina and their debt crisis.

          1. Paid Minion

            The 1%ers who grew up or live in in BFE will do okay. They may not even need to leave town.

            The NEC (especially NYC) and Left Coast/Silicon Valley D##kweeds are the ones who will need to head to the South Pacific. The wretched refuse knows full well who was behind selling the country/jobs to China.

      3. Dave

        Volunteered at my local school to build stage sets. Some hedge fund hotshot who drove an S Class Mercedes sneeringly assisted me.
        I handed him a Makita drill with a Phillips bit and showed him how to put 3″ screws into the 2x4s to connect them. He dismissed me with that “I make tens of millions and I can do it” look.

        After he stripped the heads on a bunch of screws and the drill buckled on him a bunch of times, I offered to give up the chop saw and do the screwing. He persevered until he put a screw through his hand.
        The “I refuse to scream because I make millions” look on his face was worth the day’s labor.

        1. beth

          “I refuse to scream because I make millions” look on his face

          Drew Gilpin Faust writes in THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING about the elite women of the south quickly moving in with relatives further from the fight during the civil war. Needless to say, it did not work out well.

    2. MtnLife

      I find it amusing to think that close knit rural communities (well armed, know the land) are going to let any outsiders without local ties get to their precious redoubt. They might be getting picked up in armor plated vehicles but a well placed large oak tree felled across the road is going to deny entry. Helicopters are vulnerable to small arms fire. Will the guards be locals or will their families be inside like the pilots? Seems like a lot of operational security holes or the need for a substantial amount of extra resources for all the support staff. Unless they are doing this in their own rural hometown (and hopefully haven’t burned bridges on their way to fortune), I would file this under wishful thinking.

      1. Waldenpond

        The elite plan on staying on bolt holes while well armed rural communities will war with each other. Should be fun, sneak attacks to salt the land, poison the livestock, dump e-coli in the water.

      2. witters

        If you want a rough historical instance of all this, I recommend Gregory of Tours, “History of the Franks”. What tended to happen was that the “Kings” lost their power to the Mayors of the Palace (as they were the dudes who ‘implemented’ the Kings wishes).

    3. jsn

      “You need a bit of arable land, water source, and the ability to band with friends, neighbors, and family to defend it with arms. Nothing that sophisticated.”

      These are the basis of all successful social systems and what nations, at their best, used to do. The Neoliberal order has seen states reduced to platforms for wealth extraction and the NeoLib winners can’t imagine a world without societies to loot because their own looting is all thats ever seemed good to them.

      The idea of creating surplus value for a community and continually improving the prospects of that community over time isn’t even a thinkable thought for them.

    4. Wyoming

      My knowledge of high net worth individuals working on safe havens goes back about 10 years so a little less than Gilford.

      I know of compounds being purchased/built with full sets of facilities taking into account all of the security issues that the best experts could envision and far beyond what anyone has mentioned here. We are talking hardened facilities, which are self sufficient, arsenals, housing for support staff like well trained security staff, agricultural expertise, mechanical expertise, etc…And their families. And being located within support distance of other HNW individuals who are doing the same thing.

      I won’t go on other than to say these folks are not stupid and can think of all the issues quite well themselves or hire those with the expertise to do so. And they have the money and time to make it work.

      1. rd

        You still need to have staff that are loyal to you for intrinsic reasons, not because you are paying them. Society goes “Lord of the Flies” very, very quickly in the absence of intrinsic social structures. These types of compounds would become tribal very quickly if they are largely cut off from the rest of the world. Some of the 1% would thrive, many would probably be taken over by their staff.

        The failures in Afghanistan and Iraq were because it is difficult to impose order on tribes from the outside. It has to be organic if it is to last. The leader must be respected (or feared) by the community or it is replaced, often violently. Just having money in a world where money has lost much of its meaning isn’t enough.

        1. Waldenpond

          Staff will never stay loyal. Water systems, food systems, air systems are all vulnerable. Only 1%ers with robots, no staff? Robots are vulnerable.

          What’s odd is they may never be able to reproduce as a bratty teenager could have an outsize impact. If the theory would be to quarantine certain tolerated populations, it would requiring all individuals and the individuals are still vulnerable.

          The currency will be shelter, food and privileges not paper contracts, paper or digital money. In any group, there will be the sociopaths who manipulate and steal more resources for themselves and others who won’t will punish that behavior.

          1. Octopii

            I know plenty of staff who are loyal and do not need to be. I suppose I am myself a sort of staff, and as such very careful about my clients’ security and privacy — even the ones I don’t care for.

      2. Synoia

        They will need food. fuel and other consumables. They may be safe for some period, but they will eventually run out.

        Then I suspect they will come to fulling understand the phrase “Revolting Peasants.”

      3. Scylla

        We have one of those near us (less than 3 miles from where I sit). This is outside of a town of about 1000 people in very rural north central PA. The site has extensive electronic security, satellite and radio coms, patrol routes, what appear to be pre-positioned listening posts well sighted around the perimeter, and many of what is thought to be concrete supply cache bunkers scattered around about 400 acres. My brother and a few friends took an interest and mapped the entire site over the course of a summer a couple of years ago. I do not care how much these people prepare, if it goes mad max, they would be able to withstand a siege for a time, but they are ultimately at the mercy of the locals, who these people and their minions do not intermix with AT ALL.There have been no attempts to create ties. I do not care how many guns they have, the people in the surrounding area have more, and many rural people are ex-military. All that being said, so long as the nitwits in the compound left everyone alone, they would probably not be bothered- but could the owner of such a facility really resist trying to create their own fiefdom? Rural people are not stupid either, and have more resources than most people assume.

        1. sharonsj

          I live in northeastern PA. Everyone in PA has guns, lots of guns (me included); maybe the super rich have overlooked that. I moved here 25 years ago after getting psychic prompts to leave New York City. I have a year-round creek, a forest, and lots of alternative sources for heating, cooking, and lighting. You don’t have to be rich to survive.

          I would recommend not moving to an island like New Zealand (or any island). The super rich would have to contend with rising sea levels, hotter days and less potable water (resulting in fewer crops and animals), and when the refugees start arriving in droves, there is no where to go (unless they’ve put a yacht on that getaway plane).

  4. Michael

    This very interesting in light of Dr. Peter Wadham’s video posted on December 27, 2016, where he announced that Dr. Natalia Shakhova claimed we are in the midst of a 50 gigaton methane release from the East Siberian continental shelf, minute 16:30. Apparently, based upon other releases from this release will take 2-3 years to complete. Their estimate is that it would raise the equivalent CO2 equivalent from 400ppm to 800ppm. They are calling for all hands on deck, right now.

    If true, it’s fun times ahead. Their pieces on geo-engineering are also enlightening.

      1. Tvc15

        Thanks Michael. As a country we need to “grow up” as Chris Hedges has been saying recently and face some hard economic as well as environmental truths. Not sure what the squillionaires plan is when the methane gas is released after the arctic ice melts. Don’t think their NZ doomsday bunkers will save them.

        Good times indeed!

          1. Michael

            Call me cynical, but I never took Mars habitation seriously, due to the fact that due to the duration of the trip and lack of radiation protection, (a magnetosphere), with current technology people would have cancer by the time they arrived.

            I always thought the technology developed would only be applicable for testing self sustaining human habitats for this planet.

            We might actually have an opportunity to try that out.

          2. Altandmain

            Why’d they cut the budget of NASA?

            Space is a very, very difficult place for humans and it will take a lot of effort to get any human habitation in space.

      1. Michael

        In a series of videos Dr. Wadhams et al outline the possibilities and limitations of geo-engineering, their point being that since not much as ever been tested, the time for research is right now.

        The biggest problem of post release cleanup is the the sheer cost of CO2 and methane atmospheric extraction. One calculation was $60 trillion dollars. I cannot recall if that was the total, or per year.

        I would watch the videos to get a notion of what we’re up against.

        In any extent the timing of this with regard to the Trump administration is itself catastrophic, as I expect there will be increased censoring of the media. In my state in the US there is already legislation being presented making protesters liable for the costs they incur to the police.

        Fun times, indeed.

    1. Wyoming

      While the potential methane release is certainly a serious concern your interpretation above is very inaccurate. Shakhova is not and has not said we are in the midst of a 50 Gtonne release. Just that there is a potential for one. In this all of the top researchers agree.

      The question is when this might happen. And all there are are estimates and none of them are sooner than near 2100.

      “….Tipping point for runaway warming
      The specter of Shakhova’s envisioned worst-case, 50-gigaton release hinges on many variables and unknowns. …..When and how things might unfold is profoundly uncertain, but the trigger point for the short-term catastrophic methane release postulated by Dr. Shakhova could be a temperature rise as low as an additional 1.5°C or as high as an additional 10°C. These are not the rantings of fearmongers, but scenarios described by respected Arctic oceanographers…..”

      Thus when climate change has resulted in a global temperature rise of about 2.6 C (today we are at about 1.1 C) up to a rise of about 11C. Note that if 10C of warming occurs absent the methane release it will essentially already have destroyed civilization so the high end estimate is not relevant to our concerns only if it is near the lower estimates. Not hitting the lower estimated limits is going to be very difficult as the global trends and the Paris agreement have us on track to near 3C of warming so that is certainly scary.

      1. Michael

        Actually, if you carefully watch the linked video at 16:30 Stuart Scott specifically states, “Dr Shakhova estimates that we are in the midst of a 50 gigaton burst underway right now…”.

        So, either Mr. Scott has got his facts wrong, or you do.

        In my mind, how long will this video be available?

        1. Michael

          These interview extracts are all very interesting, but they are also 3.5 years old. The publication date on your link is July 29, 2013, while the newest quote is coming from December 27, 2016.

          Has she changed her position with new data? I would really like to know.

      2. Aumua

        The source (arctic-news) is generally a questionable doomer source, and I don’t buy into that stuff too much. However, since this is a doomer thread, I say go ahead and “fear the worst”. Because the worst case scenario is always a possibility, and regardless, the simple fact is we have to evolve as a species or we die off.

        So, it currently looks like there is good chance that we are going to die off. I must admit.

  5. Sandy

    If the American peasants were going to revolt they would have done it already. Fortunately for the rich, the peasants have been mollified by opiates, marijuana, cheap industrial calories, videogames and unlimited trash entertainment, and a fawning endless adoration for the rich and famous. And when that fails theyve got mega churches spouting hopium too.

    By the way, look around most of the country. It’s designed without public squares which are necessary for protest and assembly. Look at the BLM protests, they tried to take the freeways and the whites just got furious that their fat SUVs were impeded.

    If you want to see the future watch Idiocracy not the French Revolution. Americans are the most apathetic population on earth.

    1. FCO

      Maybe they just have different priorities? Maybe they have come from countries where life looks like “the s hit the f” is the norm, but still manage to make do?

    2. PhilM

      Peasants do not start revolutions. It is members of the enlightened elite who clap their hands and trigger the avalanche. Their attempts at gradual reform begin by harnessing, and thereby empowering, the threatened, desperate lower-middle class, which turns and rends their fellows and their superiors (the 90-99% in today’s jargon). The breakdown of consensus in the middle orders creates chaos, which in turn empowers those who benefit from instability, especially psychopaths, who cannot last long in places with community or corporate memory, but who flourish in civil disorder.

      Is Trump the reformer who triggers the avalanche–our Duc D’Orleans, later Philippe Egalite, under which name he was guillotined? The looks on the faces of Louis XVI and Hillary Clinton were probably equally dumbfounded when they found themselves stymied by their respective rivals at the “Assembly of Notables.”

  6. Antoine LeBear

    They are right. A french-revolution-style reckoning is coming. We will have to dismantle and redistribute their fortunes. And those that resist will not survive.
    They should be afraid, and they should know that the later the reckoning, the angrier the mob. The angrier the mob, the likelier accidents happen.
    At this point, I do not see another option. They are mostly blind to the need to redistribute, and those that are not are blocked by the system (the neoliberal world order) from acting.

  7. RUKidding

    A truly nutty non-solution from the greediest nastiest bastards on the planet. Just frickin great. They know what they should do, but they adamantly refuse to do it in order to remain mired in the greedy proflgate ways.

    I guess they adhere that now-old adage: He who dies with the most toys WINS.


    1. Paul Art

      On the other hand these followers of Social Darwinism might be thinking the following:

      When we nuke most of the rest of the world from our bunkers then we will come and and have lots of children or create lots of children from our sperm banks and create a new race.

      Not unlike you know who in Germany.

    2. Massinissa

      “He who dies with the most toys WINS”

      I wonder when the elites will make themselves Pyramids? Or are they planning to bury themselves inside these damn bunkers instead? Using the bunkers as necropoli probably makes more sense than what they’re actually planning to use them for.

  8. jake

    This very day, NYT reports that Peter Thiel has (i.e., “bought”) New Zealand citizenship. And then hilariously goes on to suggest that this expedient could well be thanks to Thiel’s adolescent enthusiasm for “Lord of the Rings”, which is where they produced the movie, so “becoming a citizen might be the next best thing to living in Middle-earth itself….”

    The good news is, these guys will doubtless revert to cannibalism in short order….

    1. Greg

      And it is looking very much like he bought that citizenship, as he has not met any of the normal requirements and instead was granted it arbitrarily by one of our most business-friendly ministers

      Same government that changed our labour laws so that warner brothers could further screw “contractors” working on their already heavily subsidised movies produced in NZ.

      Possibly it’s how much like a banana republic NZ already is that creates its attraction for the oligarchs.

    2. John

      It’s in the middle of nowhere.
      It’ll take quite some doing to get there.

      Safe I suppose. Until…

  9. ks

    I guess they haven’t read The Masque of the Red Death.

    The story takes place at the castellated abbey of the “happy and dauntless and sagacious” Prince Prospero. Prospero and 1,000 other nobles have taken refuge in this walled abbey to escape the Red Death, a terrible plague with gruesome symptoms that has swept over the land. Victims are overcome by “sharp pains”, “sudden dizziness”, and hematidrosis, and die within half an hour. Prospero and his court are indifferent to the sufferings of the population at large; they intend to await the end of the plague in luxury and safety behind the walls of their secure refuge, having welded the doors shut.

    It did not end well for them.

    1. rd

      “The Passage” trilogy by Justin Cronin is another interesting exploration of civilization collapse.

      Very cute backstory – his young daughter wanted him to write a book about a little girl that saves the world and created this massive apocalyptic trilogy.

  10. Punxsutawney

    While I don’t think the end of civilization is worth it, I think the ones that want to lock themselves up in missile silos would end up being an interesting social experiment.

    For a population that almost certainly scores high in psychopathy, (the fact that this is their solution to the world’s problems is all the evidence I need); what is going to happen when Alpha Male A- starts fooling around with Alpha Male’s A’s main squeeze. Or not to be sexist, Beta Female A- with Beta Female A’s romantic interest. As hard it is to believe they are human after all. All locked up with tons of guns and ammo and nowhere to go.

    Will they be able to survive their estimated five years without preying on and killing themselves? Being trapped in there could be every bit as much hell as being outside.

    1. DanB

      Forget the sex-capades competition angle, it’s not basic to survival; it’s natural resources that will be scarce. Can a “wealthy” person remain wealthy during a real social collapse? Most 1%s are paper wealthy; the legitimacy of the current system is where their power comes from, not from their knowledge and skills about how to survive during a time of rapid social decline. (I’m not predicting imminent collapse, just pointing out that current notions of wealth, power, know-how and knowledge are context-dependent and will become worthless if rapid collapse ensues.)

      1. Punxsutawney

        I agree about skills, and on another blog I posted a comment about their current skills may be of little use in the “real” world.

        Part of my point was that many of them seem to think because they are in charge now, that they will be in charge post apocalyptic and I suspect will find reasons to fight over what may be trivial. I would suggest they read Jame’s Clavell’s book “King Rat“. It wasn’t the officers that made things happen in the Japanese prison camp where the book takes place.

        As to sexual partners, it is one of the things that western society fights over. Look at the what happened to the mutineers from the HMS Bounty when they landed on Pticairn with too many men and too few women. They started fighting and killing themselves. Some survived though and their descendants live on the island to this day.

        1. hunkerdown

          They don’t subscribe to the propertarian patriarchal norms that they sold to the public, except for appearances, which are often cited as pretexts for ejection from the halls of power. They owe the public cultural shibboleths no real honor, especially not within their private practices. They are not obligated to enact the stories they write or take to heart the submission they counsel to us. They didn’t get to group hegemony by competing.

          I see the paralogic. They’re American. Therefore, adversity and competition is the normal posture for every interaction. Therefore, everything is a fair contest which they won fair and square against us. Which suggests that they probably subscribe more perfectly to the same alleged social “norms” they impose on us. And therein lies the error: they don’t judge themselves by the norms they sold (or failed to sell) to us.

          If they were as crippled by someone having fun without them when there is plenty of fun to be had, there would be no ruling class.

      2. jrs

        on the other hand they have more time and money to gain actually useful skills than wage slaves EVER will. A variant of the rich get richer phenomena which seems to be how things usually work out, rather than the poor getting even as mostly happens only in morality tales. Now get to work and shut up about it!

  11. Dita

    I’d count the Zuck’s purchase of 700 acres (similar acreage to Central Park) as a bolt-hole. And peter Thiel’s in New Zealand. Guess the help will be relegated to the Blueseed floating city…

    1. Vatch

      Peter Thiel’s going to need a really big plane. There will have to be room for the people who are his blood supply.

  12. RickM

    W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of the tale (1933) “An Appointment in Samarra” comes to mind:

    There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

  13. LT

    Examine the mentality of planning for a “collapse.”
    The hedge fund managers above all are escaping to rural areas, with clean water and air. They’ve planned on how to get by with less for themselves and their families.
    The article also spoke of bunkers of under ground apartment complexes, silos, etc that would be enclaves for communities of wealthy citizens where they would ration, learn how to ration, share, get by with less.
    They all think it will be temporary while the ignorant masses destroy each other without their surperior leadership. They imagine being able to return and begin the hard work of returning things to the way they were, with themselves back in elite positions.

    Just think. If they could imagine maybe getting by on less and used that sense of community they expect to magically develop in their bunkers, there wouldn’t be amy “collapse” to fear anyway.
    If they could imagine their clean water and air natural retreats, with food, are simple things the rest of the planet would like to enjoy and should be able to enjoy without exploitation, there wouldn’t be any collapse to fear.

    So not only will their getaways be big failures, but the imagined return to the world after the crisis is also naive.
    Not only would things not be the same, you’d have to be a special kind of idoit or psycopath to think anything would still be hunky dory with a return to the status quo..
    if you survive the carnage they imagine in some kind of collapse.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      “you’d have to be a special kind of idiot or psychopath”

      The French aristocracy was pretty surprised in 1789 how unprepared they were. I’d tend to put them in the former group. Our oligarchy? Definitely psychopaths.

      1. LT

        My favorite thing to imagine is them returning after it’s safe with their “gold” and finding that people look at them crazy.
        They’d really expect that as the same people in charge during a “collapse” would be trusted to determine the value of anything. The value of a currency (no matter if it’s paper or metal or whatever) is largely a belief system.

    2. aletheia33


      good for you for pointing out a few glaring logical inconsistencies.

      i tend to think that anyone who seriously believes in the neoliberal crapola called ideas is by definition unable to think. the neoliberal ideology/framing of how the human world supposedly “works” is a pathetic religion that makes no sense. i’m sure high school (and younger) students are capable of seeing this when exposed to a bit of clarification instead of indoctrination. so it makes sense that the neoliberal superheroes’ predictions about society are as loopy as their ideology.

      however, yves says these hedgies are good at seeing where society is heading before anyone else does, and since she is not far off such seeings herself, i would defer to her greater wisdom on this point if she begs to differ.

  14. craazyman

    Na na na na
    na na na na
    hey hey hey
    bye bye

    why don’t they all just stay there in Davos? It’s probably a beautiful place with skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. That would work.

    1. armchair

      No kidding. They are like an affliction.

      And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
      Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh

    2. Altandmain

      Presumably because the European people (in France, Germany, Italy, and perhaps the Swiss themselves) might come and demand justice.

  15. amousie

    What a joke.

    The 0.01 percenters would much rather create doomsday bunkers than fix their own greed and power lust. I guess they know themselves well.

    I could poke so many what if holes into their daydream scenarios. Hours of fun since their most of their scenarios depend on order and business as usual ultimately being restored. I guess they learned nothing from what typically happens to refugees regardless of their class and they assume that the “problem” will be localized instead of global and that their assets will be worth more with them alive than dead.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      It is impossible to convince someone afflicted with the greatest pandemic in human history — Greed — that they are better off having a smaller % of a growing pie than a larger % of a stagnant or shrinking pie.

      The epicenters for the global pandemic are London, New York, and Washington D.C., though not necessarily in that order.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Wait, I thought Trump was going to revoke federal funding for “sanctuary cities”, as well as the governor of Texas at the state level. … Oh, wrong group?

    This elite fear and their related actions have been “out there” for years. Puzzling me is what has changed to elevate this topic in their Davos 2017 discussions?

  17. flora

    The current hedgies should watch Adam Curtis’s 4 part docu “The MayFair Set”. It’s on utube. Or, if 4 hours is too long, they could watch just part 2, notice James Goldsmith, and then watch part 4 starting at about minute 23. Another prepper. Why all the paranoia and prepping?

    Maybe they should just stop destroying companies and pay taxes. They might sleep better if they felt they were part of the country instead of pirates living apart. imo.

    1. Nakatomi Plaza

      They can never actually “go Galt” because they need us. If I remember correctly, Galt was some sort of industrialist who built and manufactured actual things. What do most of these billionaires provide us? It’s difficult to imagine a hedge fund going very well after the apocalypse. Will people continue updating their facebook pages when the world collapses? Can I paypal my tribal wasteland overlord his tribute after our government has collapsed?

      I suppose they’ll just sitting around looking at all bank statements, bored out of their minds waiting for the power to come back on.

    2. RMO

      I really want to link to the Bob The Angry Flower comic “Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later” but can’t get it to show up. “Murder In Galt’s Gulch” is pretty good too.

  18. roadrider

    Good riddance! Who needs those assholes? I hope the door does hit them in the ass on their way out.

    I feel sorry for New Zealand.

  19. Susan the other

    the world is getting weird so fast… trump just gag-ordered the EPA and 2 other related agencies

    1. Vatch

      Yes, one of them is the National Park Service. Trump is annoyed that they reported a smaller turnout for his inauguration than for Obama’s. That’s the sort of pettiness that I would expect from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

      1. Massinissa

        I dont think its for anything that petty. Isnt it because of the fact that these agencies accept anthropogenic climate change as a reality?

        1. Vatch

          You’re correct about the EPA gag order and possible restrictions at other agencies, but I don’t think that applies to the NPS muzzle. Trump also muzzled the USDA, which may be about protecting logging companies (the Forest Service is part of USDA, not Interior) and pesticide manufacturers.

          I honestly believe that Trump wanted payback because the Park Service embarrassed him.

  20. toshiro_mifune

    It isn’t just elite anxiety, this has been playing out among the lower classes as well. It’s not just prepper reality shows either; we’ve had almost 10 years now of zombie apocalypse themed entertainment and a general revival of the post-apocalypse genre across multiple entertainment platforms.
    We know the empire is collapsing, we just wont acknowledge it out loud.

  21. PKMKII

    Favorite part of the New Yorker article:

    [Reddit CEO Steve] Huffman has calculated that, in the event of a disaster, he would seek out some form of community: “Being around other people is a good thing. I also have this somewhat egotistical view that I’m a pretty good leader. I will probably be in charge, or at least not a slave, when push comes to shove.”

    Yeah, your skills running a content aggregate site that’s become a haven for the alt-right, that’s going to be the things the masses will be looking for in a leader in a post-apocalyptic society.

  22. armchair

    What if the guy fueling the jet pours some sugar into the tank? What if the guy who drives the fuel truck to the airstrip gets “lost” on the day of the apocalypse? What if your driver on the way to the airport pulls a gun on you? You better get a jumbo jet to fit everyone on that could spoil your plan. It’ll be like the end of the “Jerk”. It is just terrible to have to rely on people and to need all these badges of affluence. Why can’t a rich soul be a rapacious rich jerk, in peace?

    1. witters

      Especially this:

      What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
      Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
      You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
      A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
      And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
      And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
      There is shadow under this red rock,
      (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
      And I will show you something different from either
      Your shadow at morning striding behind you
      Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
      I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

  23. KurtisMayfield

    These stories really make me hope that the collapse that these people are preparing for is a flu pandemic. In that case, no one is going anywhere as the first thing that will be done by states is close the borders to slow down transmission of the virus. Good luck getting to New Zealand then!

  24. jgordon

    Also, let’s not forget the Archdruid’s (accurate) contention that the (presumably very well armed) security staff will be eager to hunt down the elites after society collapses.

    Charles Hugh Smith in his book Survival+ however does offer some good advice for elites who want to survive collapse indefinitely: find a tight-knit community and immediately use all the money and resources at your disposal to make sure that they’re self-sustaining, well-armed and grateful. Then learn some useful skills like playing musical instruments or blacksmithing and move on in. Maybe someone should send these poor deluded bunker builders a copy!

  25. twonine

    “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.
    — John Kenneth Galbraith
    “The Age of Uncertainty” 1977

    1. PhilM

      If this is a true quote, it does indeed make the blood come out one’s ears that Galbraith could have said it. It is so wrong that its vast wrongness can only be explained by knowing that the guy was an economist by training. If he had bothered to learn any history–any history at all, whatsoever, in any way, of any kind–he would never have been able to spout that inane nugget of anti-truth.

      Let’s see: August 4, 1789. Just one notable one, among about 47 bajillion counterexamples to bonehead Galbraith’s alleged quotation.

      1. Grebo

        I don’t understand. Are you suggesting that the people of privilege don’t believe they deserve it and will happily relinquish it if only we ask nicely?
        The example you give, of the French nobility abolishing feudalism (with their fingers crossed behind their backs), only took place after the revolution started and they feared for their lives, IIRC.

        1. PhilM

          Thank you for your thoughtful and informed response. The French Revolution, which I have been re-studying, to the dismay of everyone on this forum I’m sure, is something everyone anxious about politics today could take a closer look at. I’d start with Citizens, by Schama, and the Oxford History, by Doyle. Fabulous reading to make your year. I had two pages written, but I can tell I am overstaying my welcome here, so all we get is the reading list.

      2. cnchal

        Galbraith forgot the /cynic tag.

        The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich.

        From the rich person’s point of view, that a poor person suffered an injustice, is trivial.

      3. rd

        What part of the Koch brothers’ campaign to ensure that they have untrammeled rights to do what they want with no regulation and with no future estate taxes have you missed? Galbraith’s quote is effectively their biography.

  26. glen

    Why don’t they bail on the rest of the world now? They might as well get while the getting is good, and the rest of the world will benefit from their absence. Seems like a win/win to me.

      1. Massinissa

        Nah, that would be like a bank paying for the gas of the guys who robbed it. They already stole enough from us that they will definitely be able to afford the jet fuel. They just might need to sell their $1000 dollar flipflops or something first.

    1. Praedor

      Ahem. This is part of the reason that some rich folks (*COUGH* Elon Musk *COUGH*) is pushing so hard for (rich) people to pony up and help pay for a one-way trip to Mars. A bunch of pampered rich people bailing out on Earth to go to the ULTIMATE gated community on Mars where they can claim all the land from their feet to the horizon.

      A pipe dream, of course. Such an endeavor would be ABSOLUTELY dependent upon continued upkeep and support from Earth, AND Mars is NOT hospitable, at all… Nonetheless, the impulse is there for all to see: use your accumulated (unearned) wealth to get away from the Earth you have raped to get where you are, before it’s too late! Take all your marbles and just up and leave everyone else to cook in the sewage and heat you’ve left behind. But at least your pillaging made it possible for you and a select few others to get out.

      As for fancy bunkers like converted missile silos. Note: as a veteran of the cold war and all that nuke war shit, I KNOW how those things work (and don’t work). Fancy air filters on missile silos will filter out radiation, biological, and MOST chemical agents, but they will not, they CANNOT, filter out oxygen displacing chemicals (carbon monoxide, halon, ammonia, etc). Some cluster of rich douchebags and their immediate families think they can hide out for up to 5 years in a luxury converted missile silo. Well I will just pull a car up to one of your air intakes, run a line from my exhaust pipe to your intake, and pump your luxury bunker full of carbon monoxide. Sleep the sleep of the dead, motherf*ckers.

      1. rd

        I strongly recommend that the 0.1% plan a trip to Mars.

        See “Marching morons” by C.M. Kornbluth

        BTW – many of the dystopian authors of the 40s, 50s, and 60s served in the military in WW II. It is not an accident that they wrote these types of novels and short stories. They had observed dystopian societies and their outcomes personally. I think the current 1% think they can control the future in the same way that many of them thought in the 1780s and 1910-1945.

        1. RMO

          I was reminded of that story as well. Of course Kornbluth had things mirror image to the (very desirable) notion of rocketing the 0.1% on a one way trip to the void. He had the tiny elite sending the “worthless” masses to their deaths. I always liked the “B-Ark” storyline in the Hitchhikers Guide as a contrast.

  27. kees_popinga

    In Jack Womack’s Dryco novels, Dryco (a kind of uber-Walmart-cum-Raytheon that owns everything) becomes worried about CEO safety and covertly engineers a citizen “rebellion” on Long Island, necessitating a permanently-stationed US military in Manhattan, to protect the elite. The Dryco inner circle begins moving operations north, to the Bronx and Westchester County, to stay ahead of rising sea levels. Those books were written mostly in the late ’80s/early ’90s but still resonate.

  28. George Phillies

    Being contrarian.

    Sarcasm on.

    Hedge fund managers anticipate…

    They’re so good at that. That’s why hedge fund yields for pension funds are so much better than other fund yields for pension funds. (8^))

    Sarcasm off.

    Perhaps they have been reading too much economic doomer porn?

  29. Nakatomi Plaza

    Just three months ago anybody who even considered voting for Sanders, Green, or Trump was a selfish fool who just wanted to see the world burn. For the sake of our fellow man – consider the children! – we were encouraged to fall in line to prevent our society from collapsing into war and economic ruin. If only we’d have know that some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the country were literally bracing themselves for the apocalypse with absolutely no intention of helping a single soul escape or doing a thing to prevent the disaster. I guess if you’re rich enough it’s OK not to give a shit about destroying the world.

    It’s important that as many people as possible read the NYT article to see just how crazy and how horrifyingly self-serving the 1% really is. The idea that anybody will need bunkers or private airstrips is stupid as hell and straight out of a zombie movie, but it’s a perfect illustration of how little these people care about the world around them.

  30. VietnamVet

    Spread the word. This is the time to bail. Donald Trump is President. He is at war with corporate media moguls. Even Bloomberg published an article on America’s carnage. The suicide rate of women under 75 is increasing. The cover-up of the neoliberal looting is collapsing. The millions of refugees flooding Europe can’t be hidden. Blaming Russia doesn’t work. A world war is an extinction event.

    Who will be on the last plane out of East Hampton?

  31. Watt4Bob

    Read some history about the fall of Saigon, and then let’s talk about it.

    Plans work until they don’t.

    1. Mike G

      Or the collapse of Portuguese rule in Angola and Mozambique in 1975.
      Almost all the white population, who held all the admin and professional jobs in those colonies fled in the space of a week.

    1. Massinissa

      If all hell breaks out in the US, all hell will break loose in China too, either earlier or at the same time. Globalization.

  32. Praedor

    I don’t understand why these pampered, self-worshipping, self-entitled rich scumbags think that New Zealanders will welcome them with open arms if SHTF. If the US were to go tits up the way they fear. to such an extent that they actually felt the need to flee, the entire world would get hit hard too. These same clowns talk about globalization and how the world is, and NEEDS to be, interconnected. Well, you don’t get to have it both ways. The US is a huge economic chunk of the world. If it bites it, then so will a LOT of other nations, and New Zealand is not some self-sufficient paradise that would be left untouched.

    The LEGITIMATE people, the LEGITIMATE citizens of New Zealand, wouldn’t take these leeches in with open arms, strewing their walking paths with flowers and candy, if they abandon the US in a collapse THAT THEY WERE LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR. They cannot run away and escape their culpability and the fruits of their unending greed and selfishness.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Yes, that’s the flaw. New Zealand would be great for their purposes if not for the small problem that it’s full of New Zealanders. The society is strongly egalitarian, much more so than the US, and has different core values (less about freedom and more about fairness). If these people had what it takes to be New Zealanders they would not need to leave the USA in the first place. Failing that, they are going to be constantly under siege if they move here, in a figurative sense and possibly a literal one if they try to engage in the same kind of behaviour that required them to flee the USA.

      Thiel’s land purchase in the South Island has been front page news lately, along with the news that he didn’t have to comply with foreign investment criteria because he is a NZ citizen (which just raised the question of how and why he received citizenship).

  33. Robert NYC

    deep down they know they are a bunch of grifters who have produced nothing of any real value. some of them are deluded but many know it has all been one big debt fueled scam, involving predatory behavior (pirate equity) and risk free gambling (hedge scum managers, you lose and they still win) further abetted by tax avoidance and other shifty activity.

    now wonder they are anxious and scared.

  34. UnhingedBecauseLucid

    [“What does that really tell us about our system? It’s a very odd thing. You’re basically seeing that the people who’ve been the best at reading the tea leaves—the ones with the most resources, because that’s how they made their money—are now the ones most preparing to pull the rip cord and jump out of the plane.”]

    The “Peak Oil Doomers” know very well why hedge fund jack offs are “buying airstrips and farms” …

  35. Oregoncharles

    And this is the real reason for the militarization of the police, advance of the police state, and Obama’s assault on civil liberties.

  36. oho

    “supposedly” (so take w/salt), the entire food supply of the Northeast flows through 4 highways (I 90/80/76/95—-sounds plausible). Ain’t too hard to seize those chokepoints and disrupt the entire Northeast.

    Similarly the crossings of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers also are major chokepoints for our just-in-time way of life.

    We’ve all seen the empty bread shelves when 12″ of snow are forecast. I imagine that would be nothing in the 1:1,000,000 chance civilization truly goes pear-shaped.

  37. ChrisPacific

    Hilarity today from the NZ prime minister on why Thiel was granted citizenship:

    Some quotes with my translations:

    Prime Minister Bill English has defended a decision to grant citizenship to American tech billionaire Peter Thiel, saying “a little bit of flexibility” is useful when it comes to citizenship laws.

    (he didn’t meet the criteria for citizenship under the law)

    English said there needed to be a balance between giving everyone a fair chance of citizenship, and encouraging those who would make a positive difference to New Zealand.

    “If people come here and invest and get into philanthropy and are supportive of New Zealand, then we’re better off for their interest in our country, and as a small country at the end of the world, that’s not a bad thing.

    (but he has money and spread a lot of it around and we like that)

    NZ First leader Winston Peters’ suggestion that the Government was selling citizenship was “ridiculous”, English said.

    (even though everything I just said appears to confirm it)

    1. Massinissa

      For some reason they think they can make little castles there like in Lord of the Rings that will be immune from rising sea levels and the fact that they would need to import all their fuel and most of their food. That, and the fact that 4 million people already live there.

      I really don’t get it, I really don’t.

    1. pretzelattack

      these people are trying their best to make communism look good. they think they can hold out, maybe they can with dry food and enough water, for a decade or two, or can grow enough food underground to supplement the supplies. it would seem easier just to prevent the collapse of civilization in the first place, reverse the inequality. some may have to get by on a billion or so, or even watch their fortunes shrink to a few hundred million.

  38. Rosario

    I’m not so convinced things would be any different socially if this hypothetical collapse happens. We will just have a**holes running the show all over again. Just like it has always been. In fact, I think it will be even worse (or at least more explicit) after such a collapse. Kings weren’t kings because they were necessarily useful, they were kings because they were feared, and they were feared because they were manipulative and sociopaths. When the king was no longer feared or could not be feared they were often diposed. Rarely was a king removed because they did “a poor job” (poor job for who, how?). Whether the kings were that way because of biology or environment was irrelevant, and similar could be said for those elites of the world today. If we do not create a culture that reacts to these people for who they are rather than who we perceive them to be we are doomed.

    We need to fix things now rather than assume any collapse will clean things up. Any collapse will amplify the suffering for a majority of people on this planet and I fear the elites now will likely continue ruling by way of their manipulative personalities. I think the vulgar chimpanzee social organization that is written in our terrible brains is here to stay. We have complex societies and their cultural baggage to help keep it in check. When we get rid of those social structures the vulgar parts of our brains (WRT person-to-person interactions) will only become more explicit in our daily behaviors.

  39. Sound of the Suburbs

    They take the rewards for success and they take the responsibility for failure.

    They like the rewards for success but don’t like the responsibility for failure, so they will run away when it goes wrong.

    The global economy is in a state of secular stagnation.

    Secular stagnation has been reached by borrowing unprecedented amounts from the future and is only maintained by Central Bankers throwing in trillions of freshly printed money. It is a slow motion train crash on a global scale.

    It’s going down, get ready to run.

  40. Sound of the Suburbs

    “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

    As if these people have ever been any different.

    “The Marxian capitalist has infinite shrewdness and cunning on everything except matters pertaining to his own ultimate survival. On these, he is not subject to education. He continues wilfully and reliably down the path to his own destruction”

    They always take so much out of the system they kill the demand for the products and services the system produces.

    Start running, it’s too late now.

  41. Anonymous

    I think the trend of thinking of 0.01%ers as so different from ordinary people is a dangerous one. Our local 0.01%ers grew up livng intentionally middle class lives, attended public schools (till the end of the ninth grade), and did their laundry at the local laundromat. At the same time they provided enormous benefits to the community, including supplementing the salaries of the local school teachers, paying for the teachers to pursue graduate degrees, provided recreational facilities for the public in three counties, made it possible for low skilled workers to buy houses, created a credit union (now open to the public) so workers could have access to financial services, etcetera. They also kept a close eye on the town budget, so that the crazy spending that has negatively affected so many towns pretty much passed us by until recently. I cannot tell you how much more cohesive the community felt forty years ago, and how many of us would go back to those days if we could, even though, relative to the rest of the country, we were then much poorer.

      1. Anonymous

        No, it was the suburban, if not rural, South. What’s remarkable is how many people whose parents were millworkers made it solidly into the middle class thanks to the various pillars of stability that the non-union employer offered their parents. You wouldn’t see that today because companies don’t stay in business long enough, business changes too fast, and companies don’t want to pay to help their workers develop themselves because they might leave and work for someone else. Back then, the company took the view that if they help the worker, everyone benefits, even if some do go to work elsewhere.

        And the rich and the poor worked shoulder to shoulder. All the children of the owners had to spend some time working in the mills, beginning in the lowliest jobs. The children of the professionals and business owners in town would work at the mill in the summer, just so they’d know where the money came from.

    1. Oregoncharles

      That sounds very personally familiar – southern Indiana, smallish industrial city called Columbus – which is today a model of relative prosperity, despite some shocking events during the Great Financial Collapse.

  42. Bob In Portland

    On one hand it’s nice to know that there is a connection between their wealth and all that anger down there in the hoi polloi. Boy, if they could just cut down on the war spending, maybe adjust their own taxes a little, straighten out healthcare instead of destroying it, they might be able to extend this scam for another generation. But as long as the Republicans are here to screw it up, no deal.

    Where are they flying to? Not Europe. Maybe somewhere along the Arctic Circle.

  43. JTFaraday

    Frankly, I think neoliberals in general saw that the Fordist regime of accumulation was in fact a self looting system–I’m thinking of retirement funding here– and decided to loot it faster. But they’re so ideologically devoted to the private sector that they can’t envision a way out. If these neoliberals here are this busy prepping, I guess QE infinity hasn’t done much to change that.

    This is why I always say I want 2 things: a RIGHT to universal healthcare and a RIGHT to universal old age pensions.

    That’s it. I don’t need to dictate anybody’s job.

  44. nikto

    When the society collapses, it will be quite disappointing if there are no zombies.

    Can’t someone create zombies ahead-of-time, so they will be there in the collapse?

    With no zombies, the collapse of civilization could be really boring.

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