Saturday, August 19, 2023

To Younger People - by Karl Denninger

Specifically, those under 40 and really, those under 30ish.

You've never seen tough.

I mean it.

No, 2000 wasn't tough.

No, 2008 wasn't tough.

If you're 33 now you were ten in 2000.  If you're 40 now you were barely an adult in 2000 and not even born or beyond infancy in the last "actual tough" -- the late 1970s and early 1980s.

thought that what we face now was likely coming in 2008.  I was wrong.  People managed to "kick the can" another time, but in doing so we made it a lot worse.  What we had to absorb then was about a late 1970s / early 1980s problem.  What we did was greatly increase the seriousness of the damage by deferring it for another 10 or so years, and then we wildly added to that when the virus showed up.  Maybe the pandemic response was in some part an intentional attempt to evade taking the economic medicine then and maybe not, but whatever the case may be you can't go backwards and thus here we are.

What's coming is going to be worse than the late 1970s or early 80s.  It is inescapable.  Continuing to try to put it off will simply compound it more and increase the risk that we lose our society entirely.  Jerome Powell, chair of The Fed, knows this which is why those who believe he will cut rates "soon" are wrong; he's not stupid and he is fully aware of what has happened in other nations that kept playing this game one too many times, with no way to know in advance when the next time is "one too many."

An utterly huge percentage of people I grew up with, who were coming of age in the late 1970s and early 1980s, are dead.  They're not dead because of a virus, or just natural "stuff" -- they're dead because they slowly killed themselves, usually with drugs or alcohol.  This includes someone in my immediate family and a several more within my growing-up social circle -- including people I was extremely unhappy to have to cut loose.

That's significant because typically other than through accidents or violence (e.g. car wrecks and homicide) statistically nobody dies once you get out of childhood until you get into your late 50s or 60s and the diseases of older age start to catch up with your poor lifestyle or just bad luck and genetics.  Yeah, there are exceptions -- but not many.

You don't want that to happen to you as it often comes with years of disability first and there's still time -- if you act now.

Hard times are coming folks.  You've voted for it and so have many others, and it matters little which side of the paper you punched at the voting booth.  Just look at what we have now; a "Conservative" House that has voted to destroy any resemblance of fiscal sanity and is entirely responsible for the inflationary mess we are in right now.  Trump's administration set records for debt as did Obama's and now Joe Biden's, and Congress has been in both party's hands.  Arguing that its the other guy's fault is a lie you tell yourself and if you don't cut it out that could make you broke or dead, so stop doing that right now because I assume you'd rather be not-broke and alive.

Odds are we will get beyond this but not before it gets a lot worse than it is now.  If we don't get beyond it then it doesn't matter; that's a 2% problem and spending any time or effort on it is a fool's errand.  Getting beyond it will mean ejecting some of those in elected office, more in appointed offices, and those who do not get replaced recognizing that we all die equally easily and if the course we're on is not changed there will be no civil society at all and everyone will be equally screwed, up to and including being screwed dead.  Improvement will come only when that recognition takes place and gets turned into policy and as things sit right now we're in the "getting the lessons from our stupidity good and hard" phase.  Sanity has yet to show up -- but it will.  Your task is to get through it in one piece without losing your mind or worse.

First, recognize that doing nothing is a decision and, particularly if you're 25ish or below you're young and probably still full of cum, especially if you're a young man.  If you're young and have made bad decisions about your health (specifically, being overweight or obese, or worse, abusing substances including prescriptions for "moods") you have a serious problem because crazy in any form and hard times tend to turn into mortality 10 or 20 years later.

Second, if you have a stable relationship with another person and you are BOTH healthy (mentally AND physically) then recognize that two can always live more-cheaply than two ones and that one plus one is at least two and can be, if you're synergistic in some ways, more than 2.  As such if you have that  sort of relationship and you can make it deeper and better do it and avoid actions that might degrade or even destroy what you have.  Coming through adversity together with common purpose between two people who find each other before things go sideways and your "chooser" gets skewed by events who can be focused on each other and where other forced associations are not present and thus you can make major choices as a couple without mandated outside interference (e.g. neither of you currently has children from a former relationship) can forge a bond like no other.  I never achieved this and I'm 60 now -- but that doesn't mean you can't when you're 30, 25 or younger and if you can its absolutely worth it and can pay personal, incalculable dividends for decades.

But -- and this is extremely important -- one minus one is always zero and can be less than zero if one or both of you is unstable and prone to destruction.  Instability isn't just about "do I have a job" either; the worst instabilities are mental and emotional in their basis.  You can go ahead and make all the excuses you want for this and most people will but its absolutely true.  Cutting off a destructive influence can be very hard, particularly if you have a romantic involvement with that person but plenty of people get dragged down the toilet with someone who is hellbent on destroying themselves.  In times of plenty or if you have a lot you can get away with trying to make it better and if and when you fail bail off and avoid being destroyed yourself.  When times are tough and resources thin if you're the sane one and the other isn't you're much-more likely to get ruined by that same attempt simply because the margins are much thinner and they apply without fear or favor to everyone.  Always remember that nobody ever changes for anyone else in reality -- they only do it for themselves and both men and women frequently believe that not to be true and that they can "fix" the other's issues.

Difficult times are coming folks.  Chief among them is that energy is the element behind every unit of economic output and attempting to deny the laws of thermodynamics only works when you can hide the costs somewhere else.  That appears to work when economic times are great and the inflationary and other impacts (like literal slavery in production) can be thrown somewhere nobody looks.

When times get tough that capacity disappears and since we as a society made some of these decisions and it takes a decade or more to build out the infrastructure we deliberately didn't over the last 20 years no matter what we do now or if we start today, and we're not, it can't be fixed in six months, a year or two.  It will take time and that time starts to run only when we stop doing dumb things and start doing smart ones.  No, "smart things" does not include so-called "green energy" and that's just for openers; irrespective of what you believe these actions are thermodynamically bankrupt and whether you understand that or not is immaterial as you cannot change or evade the laws of physics.  As such this difficult time is likely to last a decade or more and before you scoff do recall that it was not a year or so, it was closer to five years when the late 1970s and early 80s malaise hit.

There will be opportunity from this -- including lots of economic opportunity on the back side of it -- but be patient.  Many will move far too fast toward aggressive investments when this really gets going and get buried with an additional 50% or greater loss.