Casaubon's Book

Imagining the Post-Industrial Economy

Here is the single biggest question to consider about the economic, energy and environmental unwinding we are facing – what will the economy look as we go? I get more questions about this than about anything else – what should people do for work, what should they do with savings, how should they begin to prepare themselves for a lower energy world. What I find, however, is that among both the prepared and the unprepared, there’s a whole lot of people kidding themselves. There are those who imagine that there is no economy outside the world of the stock market and formal jobs – that a crash in those things is the end of the world, which means to them either that it can’t happen or they should buy a bunker and some ammo. Others have imagined themselves “free’ of all economic structures larger than the neighborhood, cheerfully providing most of their needs or bartering and never again touching cash. Both ideas fall into the realm of fantasy.

Let us remind ourselves that the informal economy is, in fact, the larger part of the world’s total economy. When you add in the domestic and household economy of the world’s households, the subsistence economy, the barter economy, the volunteer economy, the “under the table” economy, the criminal economy and a few other smaller players, you get something that adds up to 3/4 of the world’s total economic activity. The formal economy – the territory of professional and paid work, of tax statements and GDP – is only 1/4 of the world’s total economic activity.

We know from peasant economist Teodor Shanin and others working in the field that when the formal economy fails people all over the world, they shift into the informal economy. This explains why, in the former Soviet Union, although conventional economic models showed that people “should” be starving to death, they weren’t. This is how people with functionally no income can still eat – although often not well.

The US has the smallest informal economy in the world as a percentage of economic activity, but is also one of the single largest informal economies in the world. Even here, as we all know, it is not at all uncommon to shift into the informal economy when cast out of the formal one – bartering with neighbors, doing under-the-table work, or returning to the domestic and household economy if someone else can provide economic means.

It stands to reason, then, that for many of us thrust out of the formal economy, or for those who cannot make ends meet in the formal economy, strengthening the informal economy is essential. We see this all over the world, in our own nation at present and historically. When times are hard, gardens flourish, criminalized enterprises spring up, black markets and barter get new life, people sell out of their homes and work intermittently.

We tend, however, to have an oversimplified view of the informal economy – oversimplified in several senses. In some cases, we don’t even know it is there – for example, the “housewifization” of subsistence and domestic labor mean that we essential overlook and don’t consider the merits of those forces. In other cases, we underestimate its capacity for support – assuming that no one can get by on odd jobs or under the table work. In still others, we diminish its utility without really understanding it.

This is in part due to the fact that the economic stories we tell are oversimplified – consider, for example, the narrative a basic economics text will offer about barter. The claim is that barter is unwieldy, and was enthusiastically abandoned just as soon as someone figured out how to use cash money. In fact, that’s not the case – barter has had a role in most economies through most of history, and very complex barter systems have worked extremely successfully, with clear valuations of goods and services and complex and successful means of exchange. Consider, for example,.this account from a Connecticut Tailor’s 18th century ledger of the goods he took in barter for his labor:

Talcott took credits in food (some wheat, pork and beef, many bushels of indian corn, pecks of beans and pounds of salmon, molasses and salt) and beverages (rum and brandy), labor (plowing, sledding, driving animals, cutting wood, dressing flax, roping onions, carting wood and dung, fence work, painting, making a coffin and digging a grave, and the unspecified work of men, boys and teams of oxen), transportation (ferriage across the Connecticut River and use of other people’s vehicles and horses), farm supplies, (apple trees, hooks, boards, nails, seeds, hog rings and pasturage), repairs (harness mending, cooperage, fixing a chimney, bottoming chairs), specialized services (sheathing a bayonet, hairdressing and cutting, butchering, blacksmithing, taking inventory and distributing an estate, drawing a tooth, “bleeding Mrs. Talcott,” building shelves in the tailor shop, crowning chairs, making a ferrule for a walking stick, grinding corn and replacing the handle on a pint cup, altering a gunlock, mending a porringer, setting a razor, rimming and bailing a skillet…” – Our Own Snug Fireside by Jane Nylander (pp164-165)

The account goes on for another two paragraphs, listing household goods bartered, tailoring supplies provided and ending with the description of a coat made for the payment of one puppy, two rolls of thread and nine shillings cash. It is the clear from Asa Talcott’s accounts that a complex barter economy existed in his area, because some of the items are exchanged with others for further barter. It is also clear that while barter is often used as a substitute for cash by those who have little, it is also preferred to cash in many cases. Looking over other 18th and 19th century American account books, there clearly is a perception that one often gets more from barter than from cash.

Having lived at least partly in the barter economy myself for many years, that matches up with my own experiences. Because valuations in barter are imprecise, both parties have a strong wish not to appear to be shorting the other. In some ways barter economies emphasize not paying the lowest possible price, but a higher one, rather like those cultures in which prices are set artificially low and one bargains upwards, rather than down. Barter can also be a useful way of removing that which is extraneous and replacing it with that which is useful, ie, “I have baby clothes, you have fresh peas, I get rid of my baby clothes which I no longer need and get food, which I do need to feed the growing kids…” Cash has the annoying quality of being something none of us usually feel all that desperate to get rid of.

At the same time, what one sees from barter economies is that everyone is able to come to pretty clear expectations and valuations of things – that is, one knows what a hat is worth compared to eggs or sewing, in much the same way that I can appoximate a fair cash price for my lamb or garden plants. The underlying calculations are much the same – they require a knowledge of marketplace and a participation in the economy as a whole.

Barter is not the only economic activity generally under-rated by conventional analyses that emphasize only formal economy activity. The same is true of subsistence activity – one often hears something like “Why garden? Food doesn’t cost that much anyway?” And taken alone, many things look very inexpensive – one’s electric bill or one’s grocery bill look wholly manageable in those terms. Manifestly, however, when economic times get hard, food pantries and electrical shut-offs demonstrate that it is not the size of the expense but the number of financial claims upon a person’s income that really matter.

Things fall by the wayside, and that garden, whose total economic output seemed small makes an enormous difference. In urban Tanzania, for example, we know that poor families that garden have the nutritional status of middle-class families and their children do significantly better in school. In the US rural south, among the elderly, household gardens make a significant difference in both health and wellbeing and economic security – elders with gardens are three times less likely to go hungry during the course of a month.

When we under-rate or oversimplify the informal economy, we do ourselves a disservice, because we miss its centrality to our future. Moreover, we also do a similar disservice to ourselves when we imagine that our future exists entirely within the informal economy. The formal and informal economies are intertwined everywhere in the world – money drug dealers make in the criminal economy gets spent at Target, money made on Wall Street pays for illegal immigrants to care for the stockbroker’s child. Under the table guitar playing or cab driving buys groceries and gas. Homegrown vegetables fuel labor at formal economy jobs. Volunteers make formal economy institutions like museums viable. Illegally scavenged or stolen construction equipment gets used in industrial building. Spouses edit and proofread professional writer’s work. In every regard, the two economies intersect and are one.

I suspect as much as we underrate the informal economy, its size, importance and persistence, we also underrate the persistence of the formal economy. I know some people who anticipate an eventual economy that returns entirely to subsistence, barter and domesticity – but that’s not a likely near-term outcome. The vision of a world in which you will not need any money, in which all debts will disappear, in which no one will invest or have to worry about retirement savings is probably an unlikely one – even if some debts are wiped out and so are some retirement savings..

We know, for example, that pre-industrial, pre-fossil fueled societies often had quite complex formal economic systems. While some people may have participated very little in those systems, they have always existed. The formal economic system of feudalism, for example, which required carefully calculated payment in labor, rather than cash, was largely unavoidable for most people. Reading a diary by a 18th century middle-class Jewish woman in Germany involves long discussions of letters of credit, banking arrangements and payments on debt. An understanding of the legal and economic complexities of a rural village in 17th century Germany would require extensive study, and involve many familiar formal economy concepts like mortgages, lawyers and survey boundaries.

American history has taken on as its past icon Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family who make and build everything of their own, and seem largely self-sufficient, but it is worth noting both that the narratives that Wilder wrote work explicitly to conceal some of the inter-dependence of the Ingalls family (Pa Ingalls, living in the isolated Big Woods was on the local school board, a school Mary and Laura attended), and that even in the fictionalized version of Laura’s life, they still depended consistently on stores for salt pork, cornmeal, shoes, fabric etc…

Moreover, the pioneer life that we imagine as the American historical norm was really mostly a characteristic of periods of expansion into new territories – when first settling the colonies or moving westward, Americans could, indeed, expect to find themselves with little governance, a largely cashless economy and enormous pressure towards self-sufficiency. Once areas became settled, however, almost the first institutions to arise were banks and complex formal economies, debt structures and legal conflicts. Those who dream of a simpler time are probably kidding themselves.

That does not undermine the merit of a strong informal economy, or of subsistence, domestic and barter activities within that economy. Consider the common model of work in 17th and 18th century New England. A tailor like Asa Talcott, or a cooper, or a teacher like my great-grandfather Edmund White would also be a farmer in rural areas. Because the economy was localized, instead of specializing, Talcott farmed during the growing season, sewing little then, and did the bulk of his sewing work during the winter. The same would be true of a schoolteacher’s schedule. Rather than specializing as one did in urban areas, local economies might not be able to afford a full-time tailor or cooper or teacher – but they could afford a part-time one, and everyone was better for not putting all eggs in one basket. This had its inconveniences – if you wanted a barrel made, you might have to wait until the harvest was over. At the same time, it enabled the formal economy to partly support those who needed it with enough cash for cash-necessary activities like paying taxes or debts, and enough barter goods and self-provided foodstuffs and clothing to keep a whole host of needs entirely out of the area of the cash economy.

What we do know from pre-fossil fuel eras is that the informal economy, when strengthened, can strengthen the larger economy as a whole – allowing the formal economy to support more people in the things that truly require formal economy tools like currency. We know that people who did know about debt and currency often found enormous value in informal economy structures – just as we find value in Craigslist, Freecycle and Ebay to support many of our own informal economy ventures. We know that before industrialization, a complex mix of economic activities supported most people – that few people relied solely on one kind of job or industry.

Thus we can begin to imagine the Post-industrial economy as a kind of hybrid – just as our industrial economy is a hybrid, but one with different emphases. It will not consist entirely of exchanges of eggs and vegetables, nor will it consist entirely of people whose whole economic activity exists in the realm of a single job for which they are trained and on which they are wholly dependent. Instead, it may involve a complex mix of formal economy work to meet formal economy obligations, subsistence labor to provide for things unaffordable in the new economy, domestic labor to reduce expenses and provide excess of some material for sale, barter with neighbors for a complex mix of needs as yet unmet, and perhaps forays into the areas of money work not legitimized by society as a whole in the criminal or under-the-table economy.

Debt and markets will continue to exist (which does not mean that some debt and some markets may not be wiped out or eliminated). Human beings will still have the habit of making complex their economic transactions. They will also continue to have the habit of clarifying them, of getting what they need directly from one another without involving the taxman or middlemen. The economy may occasionally or frequently descend into chaos without clear lines of demarcation between obligations that must be upheld and those that can freely be ignored – but in between those periods, the human habit of economic organization will continue, and will require investment for most of us in both formal and informal economies.

Having some kind of realistic picture of an emergent economy on an energy downslope, of the cusp of a crisis is really important. We have the bad habit of imagining large chunks of the economy out of existence to suit our own needs – but we are best informed by as clear a picture as possible.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Susan
    November 10, 2011

    I think this is an excellent essay and dovetails nicely with Dimitry Orlov’s most recent powerpoint presentation. It’s like treading a tightrope – you have to be in perfect balance with both formal and informal economies in order to walk it. Our particular place and time make that even more challenging.

  2. #2 Lee Borden
    November 10, 2011

    Sharon, I agree with everything you’re saying, particularly your understanding that the coming changes will be nuanced rather than wholesale. I would love to see you discuss more openly the growing importance of the gift economy. Actually, it’s really the predominant form of economic exchange over the course of human history, it’s alive and well today, and it will become more critical as money recedes in importance.

  3. #3 Nicole
    November 10, 2011

    An excellent balanced look at “doomer” economics. Lately I’ve been trying to think of ways to diversify my own personal economy, and I honestly never thought of my backyard food production as part of it.

  4. #4 Penelope
    November 10, 2011

    When you state that 3/4 of the world’s total economic activity is from the informal economy, I wonder what percentage of that is from criminal activities such as the illegal sale of drugs or guns. My initial impression is that there is a lot of money in these markets, and that it is this that makes the ‘informal’ economy so strong, not the bartering or subsistence activities that are grouped along with the criminal economy.

  5. #5 Luane Todd
    November 10, 2011

    Do you know if there is an audio of the panel discussion with you, Dmitry and JMG that one can order?

    I have a feeling that a lot of the nuance was left out of the transcript posted on EB.

    Donal suggested I contact you.

  6. #6 Micheal
    November 10, 2011

    Considering that the formal economy provides virtually all of the electricity, vehicle fuel, food, medicine, and welfare for the elderly for the industrialized nations, when that economy collapses taking with it the entire social structure it is difficult to imagine how starving immobile masses cannot be engaged in to-the-death competition for sparse resources.

    Indeed, “having some kind of realistic picture of an emergent economy on an energy downslope, of the cusp of a crisis is really important.” But, judging from your musings here, I guess that it is also important to feed the masses opiate infused bullshit to keep them sedate so they won’t panic before the final curtain.

  7. #7 Luther
    November 10, 2011

    A post-industrial economy is the same as a pre-industrial economy–backward and uncompetitive. As some nations develop, others decline and undevelop. The next step after a post-industrial economy is a hunter-gatherer economy.

  8. #8 barter411
    November 11, 2011

    This was a scholarly look backwards to the past and a practical look to the future on the true character of the economy. I would like to read more from this author. Another great work is Hans F. Sennholz’s book, The Underground Economy, also available online.

  9. #9 Eric in Kansas
    November 11, 2011

    Thanks Sharon, this is good.
    I dabble in the unofficial economy, making bikes for people, and if they produce something I want, I take payment for my time in that produce. This has some interesting side-effects.
    It causes people to assign a time-value to their work.
    Both parties usually feel that they are getting the better end of the deal – I think mostly because cash money is really expensive.
    I have learned that it is only a small fraction of my community that produces valuable trade goods.
    I have also observed that most people (around here) get all of their commerce done in the money economy, except for the unacknowledged services mentioned above.

  10. #10 Mark N.
    November 11, 2011

    One can make all the informed, reasonable assumptions one wishes about the existence of a future economy. We simply don’t know what the future holds. We are in uncharted territory, something like a bunch of mischievous, delinquent children engrossed in a hazardous chemistry lab experiment.

  11. #11 Neil Craig
    November 12, 2011

    “how should they begin to prepare themselves for a lower energy world”

    Suurely that is begging the question. Why should anybody expect to see a low energy world? There is no question that there is unlimited cheap energy available. While the USA, or at least those states that do not secede, could possibly be induced to criminalise the development of energy resources there is no possibility of the whole world doing so.

  12. #12 Anne Rookey
    November 12, 2011

    You know, this mixed formal/informal economy is alive and well in the rural Midwest. My husband has family in Nebraska and there’s a lot of backyard agriculture barter, as well as exchange of labor for goods, such as: I’ll mow and bale your 80 acres and we’ll split the hay, which I will sell for new school clothes for the kids and you will sell to pay the land taxes. People will also offer help and surplus goods to people they know in the community, with the understanding that it all comes around eventually.

  13. #13 petra jordan
    November 12, 2011

    Thank you, I was pleased to enter here

  14. #14 P.J. Grath
    November 13, 2011

    This makes perfect sense and yet (1) is not oversimplified and (2) doesn’t rehash things we’ve all heard over and over. I can imagine an entire book on the subject, Sharon. How about it?

  15. #15 Sal Dominelli
    November 13, 2011

    What a great post, Sharon. I find some of the comments interesting and instructive, in that some people don’t really acknowledge the informal economy as being such a big deal. I does depend on where one lives and ones lifestyle, for sure. For example, where I live (Gabriola Island, a few houses away from your editor, by the way) the informal economy is rather large. I trade labour for firewood, garden produce for books and other things, and today– believe it or not– I cut my hand breaking up kindling over my knee. Quite badly, actually. So I called up the local Doc, who stitched up the cut with 11 stitches. I will pass on to him some of the salmon I have that is smoking away in my smoker.

    Sometimes I think that the informal economy is the greater part of what I do, even though I do have a job. And the best part of it is that if there ever is a “collapse”, that part of the economy will still be intact.

  16. #16 Neil Craig
    November 14, 2011

    The big advantage the black economy has over the officially recognised bit is that it does not suffer from the amount of state parasitism (taxes, licences, malpractice suits etc) the official lot does. Of course if everybody got some of that we would not have a massively parasitic government and all be doing fine.

    However this does not seem to me to be an argument for massive state parasitism criminalising wealth & energy creation and a consequent “low energy economy” but for libertarianism.

  17. #17 Wow
    November 14, 2011

    So no need for a copyright license, eh?

  18. #18 ChrisBear
    November 14, 2011

    @Neil
    I do not have much direct experience with the larger parts of the informal economy, but tell me about protection money? What is the interest rate charged by a loan shark, and what are terms of the contract you have with said loan shark? What is your recourse when the local gang wants your car, your house?

    If you want a libertarian paradise, move to Somalia. No government, no regulations, its great!

  19. #19 henry franz
    November 15, 2011

    Jacques Fresco, ‘The Venus Project” seems to offer a viable solution.
    However, the major problem, affecting all others is OVERPOPULATION, something no one cares to talk about. Without overpopulation, none of the social & economic inequality and environmental damage/abuse would exist.

  20. #20 Neil Craig
    November 15, 2011

    Chris you should probably have been directing your worries about the black economy to Sal Dominelli and others here. I was merely pointing out the area in which it does have an advantage over government regulation of everything.

    But what is your recourse to the current situation when the local gang, led by Obama, want to insist you pay ever rising taxes and an ever rising price for the basic energy we need purely so they can steal for themselves and their friends?

  21. #21 Philip
    November 15, 2011

    Awesome post, it’s very good, so keep creating more.

  22. #22 Wow
    November 15, 2011

    “But what is your recourse to the current situation when the local gang, led by Obama”

    What? Is Obama the head of the Scottish Parliament now???

  23. #23 David Marjanović
    November 15, 2011

    state parasitism (taxes, licences, malpractice suits etc)

    Malpractice suits, young padawan, aren’t a state thing. They’re an American thing.

    Nowhere here in Europe have I ever seen an ad for a lawyer, unless you count signs on their offices.

    the local gang

    This is the Internet. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

    [...] Obama [...] want to insist you pay ever rising taxes and an ever rising price for the basic energy we need purely so they can steal for themselves and their friends?

    The taxes in the USA are unusually low. You still complain because you don’t get much for your taxes – next to no healthcare, next to no public transport, not even underground electricity cables (we don’t get blackouts from ordinary bad weather over here).

    If you want to claim Obama or anyone in his cabinet profits, go ahead and show us. I’ll laugh in the meantime.

    Oh, and, tell me what that cheap energy source you alluded to might possibly be.

  24. #24 Wow
    November 16, 2011

    “You still complain because you don’t get much for your taxes –”

    David, Craig is a Scot living in Scotland, UK, and failed MP (he tried to stand but got bugger all votes).

    He’s not American.

    He’s Scottish, living in Scotland.

    But he’s a racist and therefore he has to attack the uppity nigger over in the USA who dared pretend to be American (‘cos Americans are all white, as any fule kno).

  25. #25 Neil Craig
    November 16, 2011

    Wow, Sharon has said she operates a moderation policy to prevent people who refuse to debate the facts engage in ad hom atacks, as you have been encouraged to do on the other “scienceblogs” where the standard of debate is lower. That is why I am not going to call you a wholly corrupt lying child raping Nazi, though you know I have previously proven this true.

    I call on you either to unambiguopusly prove your obscene claim that I am a racist or equally unambiguously apologise for it.

    Having got that out of the way I need only point out that my post was a response to Chrisbear’s who gives every sign of being in the USA. If it is totally impossible to dispute anything I say factually & one has to rely on attacking my ethnicity while at the same time accusing me of being overly concerned about other’s ethnicirty it is clear I have made my point so successfully that no honest dispute is possible.

    David the cheap energy source is nuclear or do you claim to doubt that it can be far cheaper than windmills?

  26. #26 Wow
    November 16, 2011

    Aye, but you’re still here, aren’t you.

    Why did you complain about US taxes and call Obama a thug? There’s no need to prove anything: your diatribe is evidence. Prove another better fitting reason for your hate of Obama.

  27. #27 guthrie
    November 16, 2011

    It’s a useful article up to a point. But I think the title is a bit overstated. In a post-industrial economy who makes the buses (assuming personal cars are less common due to resource constraints), who makes the lighbulbs, the computer chips and so on.

    Bearing in mind that nobody wants to nor is it possible to regress to a late 19th century lifestyle. Even although country dwellers can grow their own food, knit jumpers and do various things for each other on a barter economy, we simply don’t have the manufacturing tech now or for a decade or three to be able to be post-industrial. We’ll still need industry, even if the Al smelters are powered by hydro (As done in Scotland since the 1920’s or so).

    So what we may end up with is a multi-level economy, with people having part time jobs in the real money sector, with local currencies and barter work taking up the rest of their working time.
    Of course this is a bit harder in the cities, which doesn’t apply directly to you, living in the countryside, but someone had better be thinking about that, bearing in mind we don’t really want a return to 19th century sweatshops crowded into cities.

    As for Neil Craig, he is one of those people who pops up all over the shop peddling his own weird views which are unfortunately not related to reality. I’ve known him online for maybe 4 years now, and seeing as he lives in Glasgow I am only about 30 miles away from him.

  28. #28 Wow
    November 16, 2011

    “Even although country dwellers can grow their own food, knit jumpers and do various things for each other on a barter economy”

    Given that’s a 17th century economy, why did you mention it in the context of a return to 19th century economy?

    The REALLY odd bit is that solar PV is 20th century technology (photon light discovered in 1906, IIRC, semiconductors mid 20th C) and denigrated as impossible by deniers whining about going back to the stone age, yet they want us to continue with the stone-age-era technology of “burning things”.

    What would happen most immediately is retirement will change. There won’t be any retirement savings. When you retire, we’ll be using the early-20thC idea of retiring to live with your family. We’ll have to invest in our children for our retirement, not invest in our pyramid schemes.

  29. #29 guthrie
    November 16, 2011

    Which is a bit of a problem given the demographics…
    Pendion systems work alright*, if you don’t allow the finance sector to run riot. Returning to a time where you have to rely on family and friends truly is a return to the 19th century.
    Actually that reminds me, especially in the early parts of the industrial evolution there was a lot of knitting at home on primitive machines making stockings and lace and suchlike.

    *Not perfectly, nor should they be totally relied upon etc etc.

  30. #30 Neil Craig
    November 17, 2011

    I note that Wow has declined to either produce any evidence for his obscene charge of racism or to apologise for it. Clearly not an individual whose word on any subject can ever be endorsed bt any decent human being. Sharon I have already offered ny respect for your publicly announced moderation policy of not allowing gratuitous personal insults. If wow is not to be admnished by you and you have reversed that policy I really think you should say so formally.

    I hope nobody will take Guthrie as an example of Scots ethnicity. He is previously on record as believingwestern governments shopuld prohit it any attempt to get out of recession until such time as China’s and sfrica’s per capita GNP matches ours so his commitment tom Luddism is in no doubt. It is very much in the tradition of the anti-technology crowd that they should have no idea of what technology existed in whatever era they wish to return to.

    Having dealt with the ad homs i would be willing to debate with anybody makinmg any factual dispute that we can indeed easily have unlimted cheap energy rather than having to worry about an unnecessary “low energy future” – however I note that, among all the ad homs, nobody has felt able to dispute it.

    Having been on “scienceblogs” before & indeed dealt with Wow and Guthrie before, this is not an unusual experience.

  31. #31 Wow
    November 17, 2011

    Since you posted the stuff I used as evidence, and I pointed out that you posted the stuff I used as evidence, and all you’ve been able to manage in your defense of your attack on Obama is “Wow hasn’t shown his evidence”, this is pretty much evidence that your abhorrent racism was the reason for your attack.

  32. #32 Neil Craig
    November 18, 2011

    Wow’s posts here are #17, 23, 25, 27, 29 & now 31. Anybody can see that he has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate his obscenity. I accept this as representing the very highest standard of honesty of someone (since Sharon has clearly, quietly reversed her policy on personal invective I can say) who is undeniably a wholly corrupt, lying thieving, murdering, child raping Nazi subhuman animal, publicly acknowledged as such by all honest people on “scienceblogs”.

    I regret that Sharon has decided to change her moderation policy and forced me to thus defend myself from Nazi subhumans incapable of intellectual debate.

    I am, however, gratified to note that there is not a sigle person on “scienceblogs” who feels able to, in any way, factually dispute that there is no possibility of a real energy shortage or any truth whatsoever in any of the Luddite scare stories we are threatened with by the anti-progress crowd (such as Guthrie).

  33. #33 Wow
    November 18, 2011

    Gosh. You can read numbers.

    I have shown the evidence. I shall present it yet again here.

    Your post #21 is the evidence of your racism.

    That you have been unable or at the very least unwilling to give an alternative reason for your character assassination in post 21 indicates that my attribution of that attack to your racism is correct.

  34. #34 Neil Craig
    November 19, 2011

    So obscene lying Nazi chld rapist Wow says that anybody who says anything critical about a “Democratic” president is a racist. At least he couldn’t be saying it is only half black presidents, like the Nazi promoting Obama, of whom criticism should be censored is he, because that would obviously be racist?

    Obviously anybody in the “Democratic” party who is not an out and out DemoNazi will piblicly denounce the obscene Wow for hios obvious wish to destroy any trace of the constitutional right of free speech. Admittedly experience shows a disticnt lack of any active supporters of the DemoNazi party who are not such filth.

    And once again I note nobody has any factual dispute of my case. It is left to obscene subhuman animals like Wow to vent their bile.

    Amusingly Wow having claimed to have produced the evidence now claims that it was produced by me – thereby claiming he is I. I can assure anybody that Wow has no claim to 1,000th that much decency.

  35. #35 White Indian
    November 21, 2011

    No mention of slavery?

    Slavery is coming back, big time. It is a hallmark of agricultural civilization, and has only briefly disappeared when fossil fuels became easier to manage for a power source for most of the capitalists.

  36. #36 Wow
    November 21, 2011

    And now you see how poorly that whining little type Neil gets his kicks.

    Childish whining and a complete avoidance of anything of substance. He won’t even bring himself to lie and say that his diatribe against Obama wasn’t racist because he supports the Black people of America in their efforts to enter all spheres of life in the USA.

    We, of course, know that is likely to be a lie, but he can’t even bring himself to abandon his racism on this.

    Just a guy full of hate because the world isn’t bowing to him.

  37. #37 Neil Craig
    November 22, 2011

    Slavery only works economically when most labour is done by muscles rather than thought. You cannot force a slave to think. Thus technology ended slavery (certainly not Lincoln). Of course if the econazis, such as Wow and much of the DemoNazi party get their way then the return of slavery would be inevitable.

    However, as nobody now disputes there is no technical reason whatsoever for our society to ever fail to produce enough energy to do the labour.

    I suppose it can be argued that slavery is preferable to the cannibalism and genocide obscene racist child raping animals like Wow and perhaps Obama aspire to. But since they are both incapable of debating factually they should both be ignored.

  38. #38 Wow
    November 22, 2011

    Nope, it works in sweatshops where work is done by machine. It works in H1B visas that ensure that your employer has the power of owner of you for computer programmers and other “knowledge workers”.

    Technology may have ended slavery, but libertarians like you are trying to force it on us again, with the aid of capitalism. The rich get their way because, being rich, they have more power.

    And so the capitalism is moulded to ensure that privilege.

    But this alarmist bullcrap that Biel Whage comes up with every single time in his Holy Crusade against social responsibility is just wearying.

  39. #39 Neil Craig
    November 23, 2011

    Child raping cannibalistic Nazi Wow clearly doesn’t even try to believe his own lies about “sweatshops” being “slavery” since he admits my point that technology ended slavery.

    Once again we see that nobody on “scienceblogs” disputes that my points are entirely correct.

    It is left to Wow, a person publicly denounced as a wholly corrupt, Nazi liar by every single remotely honest commenter on “scienceblogs”, to replace honest discussion with ad homs, lies and obscenities. Since, with the exception of Sharon’s, every single runner of “scienceblogs” sites deliberately censors anybody who makes any honest disagreement with the lies they spout and instead encourages lies and ad homs as a substitue for all the principles of science.

    (eg Greg Evans’ repeated statements that he is a climate scientist not paid by government when in fact he is an assistant anthropology teacher indeed paid by the state)

  40. #40 Wow
    November 23, 2011

    Gosh. Look at that spittle fly. Got any evidence of those claims, weirdo?

    “since he admits my point that technology ended slavery.”

    And now slavery is enabled by technology. Since you didn’t disagree, you admit that slavery exists.

    PS I hope nobody was drinking anything at their keyboard when whiner mcwhiney whined:

    “to replace honest discussion with ad homs, lies and obscenities”

    After “Child raping cannibalistic Nazi Wow “…

    At least he has now worked out how to spell his own name. Quite often in the past he got so nuts he couldn’t type it right.

  41. #41 Neil Craig
    November 24, 2011

    “Gosh. Look at that spittle fly. Got any evidence of those claims, weirdo?

    “since he admits my point that technology ended slavery.””

    Had Wow had the intellectual capacity to read what presumably his clone-mother writes for him be would have noticed himself acknowledging “Technology may have ended slavery” post 38.

    Glad to have helped in your education Child raping cannibalistic Nazi Wow.

    I note neither it nor anybody else feels it is possible to dispute that there is no possibility of any genuine energy shortage and that any artificial shortage (and about 93% of the current price) are purely the fault of eco-Nazi politicians and the Ludditer movement.

  42. #42 Wow
    November 24, 2011

    “”Technology may have ended slavery” post 38.”

    So you agree it isn’t certain.

    So you agree that we still HAVE slavery.

    Or is that unpossible in your insane little world?

  43. #43 NC
    November 25, 2011

    On planet Earth where YOU say something that is not evidence that I agree with it you moroniic Nazi child rapist.

    I note nobody at all on “Scienceblogs” feels it is possible to dispute in any way that the entire energy shortage scare is a deliberate anti-scientific fascist fraud without a shred of honesty behind it.

  44. #44 Wow
    November 25, 2011

    Couldn’t manage to spell your name again, Whiner?

    “where YOU say something that is not evidence that I agree with”

    Do you want to try again, because that sentence means nothing.

    Note: it’s not possible to prove to the insane asylum resident that they are NOT, in actual fact, Napoleon. This doesn’t mean that the nutter is right and that they are the actual original person of Napoleon. Just that they, like you, are so insane they will not notice any evidence of their insanity.

    In short: it’s not possible to dispute with the insane (i.e. YOU) because they’re nuts. It isn’t proof of anything other than your insanity.

  45. #45 Wow
    November 25, 2011

    Whiner: I dispute that AGW is a scam or fraud.

    I dispute that there’s profit to be made in it for scientists.

    I dispute it’s facist.

    I dispute it’s made up.

    There you go, your claim “nobody at all on “Scienceblogs” feels it is possible to dispute” your asinine and unsupported proclamations.

  46. #46 guthrie
    November 25, 2011

    Sheesh, is this thread still going?
    I admit I poked Neil Craig first, but his retorts are a little sad. I don’t quite see what ethnicity has to do with anything, but given that all my ancestors that we know of for at least 6 generations are Scottish, I’m not quite sure what the problem is.
    HIs stuff about me previously being on record is based on some complete misunderstanding by him of some comment I probably made years ago. He reminds me of the person who was complaining about anti-technology greens, so I asked them who it was was encouraging recycling technology, amazing new engineering of wind turbines, solar panels etc.

    Finally I’m completely certain that I know more about history of science and technology than Neil.

  47. #47 Neil Craig
    November 28, 2011

    Well well.

    Sharon you started claiming that you ran a moderation policy which involved deleting only ad hom cpmments and welcomed factual debate.

    Then without any public cahnge announcemenmt, dinding that there coyuld be no factual debate which would not prove the “scienceblogs” party line wholly ridiculous you started allowing the posting of obscenities from racist filth like Wow.

    Finally when even then I keep asking for anybody who can make a factual point you have now decided to cesor any soprt of dactual debate. Again without announcing your second cahneg of moderation policy complettely reversing your initial statement, so that now you do not accept posts which are not childish ad homs buty factual debate.

  48. #48 Sharon Astyk
    November 28, 2011

    Ok, now I understand what Neil Craig is talking about – I’ve been out of town and offline and y’all have gone to town. And frankly, the category of “people engaging in ridiculous ad hominem” includes those claiming it is all someone else’s fault. End of comment thread. I’ll delete all additional comments here – and frankly, I’m kind of disappointed you folks brought it to this point. And if you don’t think I’m talking to you, you are almost certainly wrong.

    Sharon

  49. #49 Nancy
    March 10, 2012

    Why is this decline of America and decline of energy being pursued by our government and scholarly elites? Energy resource scarcity is total bunk–nuclear is cheap and viable, but also other sources that are being repressed by big oil. Seems to me our country is being “creatively destroyed” as Romney’s gang coins it, to increase short term profits for the rich.
    I think the ultra rich just keep playing their monopoly game, and because they win, they don’t care that the rest of us lose. Just like the end of a monopoly game, this is what the postindustrial age looks like.

  50. #50 Sinnycool
    April 28, 2012

    Perhaps it’s my confirmation bias showing but IMHO the range of comments and emotion show exactly what is really happening/going to happen as times get tougher.

    Humanity is an oxymoron.

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