Most of us, I imagine, think a big crisis is coming. Said crisis being necessitated by the mountain of new debt; the rock-bottom interest rates currently making it look less horrible (but they can't drop much more); the continued economic slump in the US, and the expectation, based on the quantitative easing, of a double-dip before we can get unemployment down; the economic crisis in Europe, being delayed now by temporary measures. Of course, we could also have a non-economic crisis, depending on what Iran decides to do with the nukes it's developing.
Authors of that book, I think, would also argue: it's not that trouble is on the horizon, but that we no longer agree on how to handle trouble when it comes. So an upset that could be resolved ordinarily will be gridlocked today, until it's bad enough people get desperate enough to cooperate. Maybe I misunderstand them.
What should we be doing to prepare for any upcoming crisis? Can we prepare for it? Prevent it? Or is it an illusion?
What will stop us from preparing or preventing?
Do you think your answers are common? How does the general public view those answers?
...and what about different countries? That is, is your country sitting pretty, while others are headed for trouble, or the reverse?
What about the political parties? Should your party win to prevent or ameliorate current problems? Or would it be better for it to lose, so the public will reject the other party for a couple of decades, so your party can fix the problem?
Just remember to rotate your emergency supplies. Nothing worse than discovering all your SPAM or medications expired a year ago last May.
And don't publicize your emergency preparedness.
it's not that trouble is on the horizon, but that we no longer agree on how to handle trouble when it comes.
My take is that we (the collective we) no longer want to handle it. My take is that the prophets, who have loved the current order given to them by heros and artists have protected it so much that it is like an overgrown forest and whether due to growing too delicate for them to handle or whether they have grown to old to handle it, its in trouble. The nomads, never fully feeling welcomed into the forest by the self-absorbed prophets could care less about its protection, and the young brash next generation of heros like fires.
I don't think we can prevent it. Like my forest fire analogy I think aIl good things come to an end and everything needs a cycle of destruction and renewal. I think we can prepare for it by accepting that we may not be able to prevent it. For example, the world knew WWII was coming, the wiser knew it before WWI was even over. England prepared by... well actually it didn't and therefore was caught with its pants down in 1939 only to be saved by the English Channel and dumb moves on Hitler's part. France prepared by trying to prevent it. They dumped everything into that Maginot Line in hopes it would prevent war and all it did was delay it a few months and then the result was truly devastating to them. Stalin on the other hand prepared for it. He moved factories east, he knew, non-aggression pact or not, it was only a matter of time before Germans once again were marching over his land.
On a personal level I guess you can prepare by accepting that life isn't fixed and that you should always be open to the possibility of change. I guess the saying, "don't put all your eggs in one basket" would be the shortest answer.
As for what countries are safe. Who knows? I'm sure there are smart analysts out there who could make a good guess but I am not one of them. The way I see it, if I could go back to about 1910 and tell the average man on the street that by the end of the decade the Ottoman Empire (600 years old), the Russian Empire (almost 200 years since Peter the Great, or over 450 years if we go back to the first Tsar), the Austria-Hungary Empire (about 50 years old), and the German Empire (although only 40 years old, still a world power in its day) would all vanish from the planet I think they'd think I was mad.
Austria-Hungary is an older empire than all the others, it goes back to the middle ages. They just turned the Eastern half over to the Magyars after '67. The empire worked in 1900 like it had in 1830... That said, why should the opinion of the man in the street matter when it comes to grand strategy or the survival of regimes?
WWI was foreseen, too. Clever people said it would never pan out, because all the nations would be bankrupt by Christmas the first year. Clever people always think this is enough to stop a war. They were right about bankruptcy, wrong about its power to stop the carnage. They were idealists... As for WWII, England did not prepare in part because it did not have to. But what dumb move on Hitler's part are you talking about? Stalin did not prepare to fight Hitler; he really did believe Hitler would not war in the East; he really was surprised & the consequences were dire; but Hitler underestimated massively things he had no business underestimating. - After all, Germans built the war industry in Russia in the Inter-war Years. Those people finally had a chance to meet legally, like all gangsters did in that age, when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed. Big party. Briefly put, you just need to check the kinds of numbers committed by Hitler to Barbarossa compared with the numbers Stalin committed. If you want to go further, compare things like streamlining production & committing the civilian population to the war industry. Hitler never took that Eastern war seriously. Whenever you play at war without studying necessity, you are bound to fail. But this says nothing about Stalin's prowess as a strategist. It is easily overstated. He certainly massacred his officer corps at the climax of the Great Purge. As for France, the French did not understand necessity. There is a lot to be said for the superiority of defensive warfare. It is not clear that the Maginot Line was useful or worth the expense from the point of view of defensive warfare. It was politically useful in a republic where governments were toppled constantly, continuously, nobody dared say war, & terror of Germany unmanned them. When the breach came, when the Germans swung around through the North, Churchill says he flew to Paris to talk with the French. They were already at that point burning the archives. Defeatist, maybe? He asked Gamelin about the reserves. When you have armies in a theater, playing defense requires keeping maybe half your troops in reserve. There's also a matter of how deep your defense is. - Gamelin, Churchill says, simply said: What reserves? They did not have reserves. It is difficult to fight a war when the strategy is of this sort.
But for the sake of your openness to change, would you preach it to a European Jew circa 1918? What if change reveals to you that civilization is built over the abyss? What if conventions cannot trump necessity? What if in the beginning there was chaos?
Changing bombing strategy from the RAF bases to civilian targets during the Battle of Britain is the mistake I was referring to. How many Jews got the heck out of Europe during the interwar years? Some with nothing but the shirt on their back. Heck, as a people, the Jewish people have experienced more change (usually at the hands of others) than any other and have yet survived, thrived even (according to the latest issue of the Economist).
You may be right about the worth of civilian bombing. This does not change the fact that Britain produced more planes per month at that point. A German victory in that case would have required much more serious planning than the bombing.
As for the Jews, I imagine not many left. The Nazis forced hundreds of thousands to emigrate out of Germany & then Austria before the start of the war. Those numbers pale in comparison with the numbers of the victims... But it is possible that Jews have survived by recourse to God, for without the belief in a God that hovered over the deep, in the beginning there would have been merely the deep... Jews do not believe in progress. They believe in reverting to the way of their fathers.
I'll leave you to enjoy The Economist. Have a good one-
I'll answer a few of my own q's here.
I'd imagine most of us think the future will be like our recent past: we haven't seen crisis at home, so it seems incredible that it would happen at home. But of course it has happened in the past -- too long ago for most of us to remember.
I'd say Europe is headed there with us, and may well get there first. Though we are playing catch-up now.
The system is gridlocked. Which is better than going easily toward disaster -- except that now the gridlock *means* going fast-forward toward these problems. Theoretically we could stop borrowing more money (though this is called "default" by the media!), but practically, I think it'll be impossible even to reduce borrowing to GWB -era levels. It'll take something so big that it scares all branches of gov't into reduction. But some may decide reduction is unwise and we must stimulus even more. So I think it'll take actual bankruptcy: not a problem big enough to scare, but a problem big enough to disable. I hope I'm wrong.
What we can do is get ready for sacrifice, get out of personal debt, get our states out of debt.
And one more thing interests me. If the crisis is military, it may benefit whoever controls the White House. But if it's economic, it will hurt it. Maybe Republicans should go for the O, and Democrats should become Romney Democrats, hoping to throw the WH to the side that they want to take the blame. At least it's a reason not to stress too much if your candidate loses this fall. It may be a blessing in disguise -- provided you're right about which party you want to have power for the next couple of decades, as GOP did 1860's on, and Democrats 1932-1952.
Theoretically we could stop borrowing more money (though this is called "default" by the media!), but practically, I think it'll be impossible even to reduce borrowing to GWB -era levels.
If you're against raising the debt ceiling, you're not against controlling spending. You're against refusing to pay for the things you've already committed to spend money on. You're not being responsible; you're being irresponsible. And why "GWB era" borrowing when GWB's administration was all about "deficits don't matter"? Why not Clinton-era borrowing or Bush Sr.-era borrowing? They were the two most fiscally prudent presidents we've had in the modern era.
He does not want the '90s because he thinks he cannot get it, not because it's bad. Have a little good faith. He hopes you can get less than that, but something you can live with. He does not mean Mr. Bush Jr. was alright in terms of spending; but he was less bad than Mr. Obama.
As for the other thing, if you can spend money as you have promised without bankrupting yourself, that's good; keep your word. If you have spent too much to avoid bankruptcy, stop spending more, whatever your commitments. Breaking your word is preferable to self-destruction. Promising to spend money is a matter of convention; having that money or not is a matter of necessity. Necessity trumps convention-
Breaking your word is preferable to self-destruction.
Self-destruction in politics is a relative thing. When "self" is me, myself, and I then yeah, avoid. But when 'self' is the poor sap who has my job after I retire, onward through the fog.
If you really think it's irresponsible to pay your bills with income rather than further debt, I don't think we can have a useful conversation.