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the Global Death Economy

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, February 25th, 2016 - 141 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, climate change, debt / deficit, disaster, Economy, energy, Environment, equality, farming, Financial markets, food, overseas investment, peak oil, poverty, Privatisation, sustainability - Tags:

One of my frustrations with the mainstream political parties is how they are avoiding the obvious using policies of ‘pretend and extend’ symptoms management and crisis fire fighting.

It’s nice to talk about where KiwiSaver and NZ Super is going to be in 30 years time: but only if you studiously ignore how current megatrends are going to undermine every assumption we use in the conversation.

Briefly, the ruling establishment has put our civilisation on a course which is leading to massive death and suffering via a nasty combo of environmental and resource exhaustion, fossil fuel energy depletion, severe climate change, and increased societal fragility.

Chris Hedges describes this as the Thanatos instinct, a collective and historical embrace of the impulse which works towards our mutual death and destruction.

Note, for millions in many countries around the world, this “massive death and suffering” is a present tense phenomena that we in the comfortable west have previously been shielded from.

It is in this context that Zero Hedge brings to our attention a new revision of the best selling “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins.

In his original book, Perkins describes how the western economic empire corrupts/controls the leadership of entire nations in order to extract resources and economic value out of those countries for cents in the dollar. The use of debt and international institutions like the IMF, World Bank and ECB are central to crushing entire peoples into economic servitude.

Enriching a few of the co-operative local elite and chosen compradors but leaving the ordinary citizens of those countries with nothing but bitter ashes, pollution and poverty.

Now the Economic Hitmen have turned their skills and techniques against their own people in modern western countries.

Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary for the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and academic, describes how the basic EHM (Economic Hitman) process works:

An EHM is an operative who sells the leadership of a developing country on an economic plan or massive development project. The Hit Man convinces a country’s government that borrowing large sums of money from US financial institutions in order to finance the project will raise the country’s living standards. The borrower is assured that the project will increase Gross Domestic Product and tax revenues and that these increases will allow the loan to be repaid.

However, the plan is designed to over-estimate the benefits so that the indebted country cannot pay the principal and interest. As Perkins’ puts it, the plans are based on “distorted financial analyses, inflated projections, and rigged accounting,” and if the deception doesn’t work, “threats and bribes” are used to close the deal.

The next step in the deception is the appearance of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF tells the indebted country that the IMF will save its credit rating by lending the money with which to repay the country’s creditors. The IMF loan is not a form of aid. It merely replaces the country’s indebtedness to banks with indebtedness to the IMF.

To repay the IMF, the country has to accept an austerity plan and agree to sell national assets to private investors. Austerity means cuts in social pensions, social services, employment and wages, and the budget savings are used to repay the IMF. Privatization means selling oil, mineral and public infrastructure in order to repay the IMF. The deal usually imposes an agreement to vote with the US in the UN and to accept US military bases.

Occasionally a country’s leader refuses the plan or the austerity and privatization. If bribes don’t work, the US sends in the jackals—assassins who remove the obstacle to the looting process.

But that’s only the basics. There is now a very well developed, mature and diverse range of weapons and techniques that Economic Hitmen use nowadays. And they are turning their sights on western peoples in western countries. Roberts continues:

Perkins describes how Boeing plundered Washington state taxpayers. Using lobbyists, bribes, and blackmail threats to move production facilities to another state, Boeing succeeded in having the Washington state legislature give the corporation a tax break that diverted $8.7 billion into Boeings’ coffers from health care, education and other social services. The massive subsidies legislated for the benefit of corporations are another form of rent extraction and Hit Man activity.

Perkins has a guilty conscience and still suffers from his role as a Hit Man for the evil empire, which has now turned to the plunder of American citizens. He has done everything he can to make amends, but he reports that the system of exploitation has multiplied many times and is now so commonplace that it no longer has to be hidden…

People have been so badly plundered by jobs offshoring and indebtedness that consumer demand cannot support profits. Consequently, capitalism has turned to exploiting the West itself. Faced with rising resistance, the EHM system has armed itself with “the PATRIOT Act, the militarization of police forces, a vast array of new surveillance technologies, the infiltration and sabotage of the Occupy movement, and the dramatic expansion of privatized prisons.”

And what is the bottom line of Perkin’s writing, according to Roberts?:

Perkins shows that the evil empire has the world in the grip of a “death economy.”

He concludes that “we need a revolution” in order “to bury the death economy and birth the life economy.” Don’t look to politicians, neoliberal economists, and presstitutes for any help.




141 comments on “the Global Death Economy ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Yep, capitalism in all it’s forms going back millennia always screws over the majority of people to enrich the already rich which inevitably causes the collapse of the civilisation itself and possibly bloody revolution.

    We can no longer afford the system as it is and the politicians have been bought out by the corporations.

    • Smilin 1.1

      In Keys case he was in the terms of the mafia a made man
      When his age group came of age with help of Thatcher and Reagan the ignorant. These odious shits began to take over in all areas of influence. They went from thug debt collectors to now credit assessors and agents that this govt uses. Key himself looting the country back in 1987 .Back then of course we had their political father and older sister and uncle,
      (Bolger Shipley and uncle dodgy Roger) working really hard to feather bed their rise to power until Helen manage to delay these shits but it didnt matter they use the time to create the 2008 crash to add validity to their bs political aspirations Such is the short skullduggerous history of Juan Key el presidente

  2. Gosman 2

    Which examples did this man provide where a country was forced in to accepting massive loans with no hope of repayment in the past 30 years?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      wake the fuck up Gosman or get out of this post. At least read the linked article by Roberts in Zero Hedge before you spout off your nonsense.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        First off my question was relatively neutral. If it is as common as this man implies you should easily have listed a large number of situations where what he states occurred actually happened over the past 30 years.

        Secondly there was no link to the article in question so I am not sure how you expect me or anyone to read it.

        • Colonial Viper

          Ahhhh my apologies, putting in the link now.

          • Chromophore

            And while your apologising maybe you should “wake the fuck up” yourself.

            • Colonial Viper

              And what reality shall I wake up to?

              Hold on, the limo has just come to pick me up for a night at the casino, catch ya

        • Paul

          Read the article.

        • reason

          One of the best example would be the nuclear power station that GE built in in the Philippines ………

          It was a bad faulty design that was banned in the west.

          They built it on a fault line ………….. Bribery was involved ….And its never been used.

          The Philippines are probably still paying off the loan with more and more families living on rubbish dumps, on the streets and with no health or education.

          Its about 9 minutes into this documentary http://johnpilger.com/videos/war-by-other-means.

          There is a multitude of other examples in this revealing documentary.

          Indonesia with its c.i.a backed successful coup ….. which lead to death of many ‘lefties’ ( between 500,000-1,500,000 )…… ended up with Suharto and a bunch of Gangsters running the country, taking out huge loans and siphoning off the wealth…….

          When the corrupt government or officials are gone the debt remains …………

          The poor pay for it with no sanitation, no health services, no education or even proper food.

          The bankers get rich on suffering.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      They weren’t forced but tricked/bribed. Different words, same effect.

      • Gosman 2.2.1

        Regardless please list examples from the past 30 years that we can look at to confirm the validity of his claims.

        • AmaKiwi


          Politicians are crowd followers, not visionary reformers. This is particularly true of the NZ Labour caucus which is a tribal clan whose first concern is to feel cozy with each other (which is why Cunliffe got trashed to the back benches).

          I am heartened by increasing NZ activist opposition. Yesterday’s Auckland Council coup, Feb. 4 Auckland TPPA protest, etc.

          As one who is frequently unemployed, I want a Labour MP to ask Key in parliament how I can apply for a job at rent-a-crowd. I need the money.

          Your decision to abandon the NZ Labour party is wise. Unless they produce a Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour caucus is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

          The revolutions around the globe are coming here. The question is, “Who will win in NZ? The Left or the Right?” We (the Left) can and MUST win.

          • BM

            Politicians are crowd followers, not visionary reformers

            That’s because we have these thing called elections.

            Also, there will be no revolution for you to take out your frustrations on.

          • Alan

            Please expand on these revolutions around the globe that you refer to Ama

            • Colonial Viper

              For starters look at how Trump is sweeping through the State primaries and leaving behind establishment Republicans in his wake.

              Also, perhaps you should wake up and take a look around for yourself instead of acting so innocent.

            • AmaKiwi

              @ Alan

              Have you been asleep for the past 10 years? Terrorists are simply revolutionaries using unconventional warfare.

          • Puckish Rogue

            The revolutions around the globe are coming here. The question is, “Who will win in NZ? The Left or the Right?” We (the Left) can and MUST win.

            No they’re not

          • Chooky

            +100 AmaKiwi…and great Post CV

        • Macro

          Why don’t you look them up – they are not hard. How about Newmont in Waihi? for starters. For bigger examples have a read of the book referred to in the post.
          Just for a little history – just north of NZ there is Bourgainville
          But I’m sure you have a perfectly reasonable explaination for all the sadness that little conflict produced.

          • Gosman

            Ummm…None of those examples you have listed meet the criteria mentioned in the article CV is referencing. To do so they would need foreign parties encouraging the government of NZ to borrow to invest in those activities.

            • Macro

              Not even Bourganville!
              I could list a thousand examples but nothing would satisfy you and your blinkered mindset.
              You are a waste of space Gosman.
              I gave those so others might see some practical examples close to home of just what CV and the author of the book are referring to.

              • Gosman

                No not even ‘Bourganville’ (sic)

                To qualify the mine on Bougainville would have had to be financed by a foreign loan to the PNG government who then would not have been able to service the resulting debt from the revenue from the mine. At ehich time the PNG government would have been forced to implement policies they didn’t want to implement. This is not what happened. Nice try though.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’m about to ban you out of this thread Gosman because I will not tolerate your deliberate blindness to the use of the financial system as a weapon of mass destruction against countries which refuse to fall in line with the western empire. Last warning.

                  • Gosman

                    Hang on. I’m just asking for some recent examples that back up the claims made so I can investigate. I have looked in to the links you provided and nothing is really meeting the criteria that is claimed happens. If you want to ban me for suggesting something that will strengthen your case it seems a little odd.

                    • Mike S

                      Iceland, Greece…

                    • Gosman

                      How did Greece or Iceland involve the US?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The ECB is one of the transnational institutions used to fuck countries over.

                      The ECB is happy to hand out brand new created off a keyboard money at essentially 0% to banks and countries which meet its criteria – but would rather let the Greeks starve and fall apart rather than to do the same for them.

                      Rather, all the ECB’s solutions for Greece involve putting the Greeks under more debt.

                      The Icelandic banking class thought they could join in on the big game of western financialisation.

                      When that failed the creditors wanted to take the entire country into debt servitude for a century.

                      The people of Iceland told the transnational banking fraternity to fuck off.

                    • Gosman

                      That may well be true but it doesn’t fit the scenario that was painted by the ‘Confessions of an Economic hitman’ guy.

                      Nobody forced or even encouraged the Greeks to borrow money for big economic investments that were unable to meet their projected returns. And the US has had little or no input in what policies they current Greek government has to follow to meet it’s obligations.

                  • cogito

                    I suppose China is squeaky clean, eh….

                    • Colonial Viper


                      The global financial system and its institutions is western. Its assets and debts are mostly denominated in the reserve currency of the world, the USD, a currency that the US Gov has the privilege of controlling and printing.

                      In comparison, China doesn’t control sweet FA in the global financial system, and remains largely a prisoner of it as the vast majority of their international trade is conducted in USD across western financial systems.

                      Having said that, both Russia and China are constructing parallel transaction systems as fast as they can, but that will take years.

                  • AmaKiwi

                    @ Colonial Viper

                    Some months back I replied to Gosman by saying, “If I want to hear an asshole, I can fart.”

                    He can no longer hook me into an argument. He’s invisible.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      but gawd its so hard to resist the bait!

                      Upton Sinclair:

                      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

                      I guess for some that remains true even though that entire remuneration is in peanuts.

                    • AmaKiwi

                      @ Colonial Viper

                      A slight modification of the Upton Sinclair quote:

                      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his self-indulgent lifestyle depends on his not understanding it.”

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Me like

                • Macro

                  The mine was the largest non-aid revenue stream of the Government of Papua New Guinea from 1975, when it became independent, to the mine’s closure in 19xx. The national government received a 20% share of profit from the mine and authorized 0.5–1.25% share to the Bougainvilleans.[7]

                  Revenues from the mine products was vitally important to the economy of Papua New Guinea, but the people of Bougainville were seeing little benefit from it. In addition, they began to recognize that they were bearing the total effects of the mine’s environmental consequences for the island. They claimed that the Jaba River had been poisoned, causing birth defects among local people, as well as the extinction of the flying fox on the island and adverse effects on fish and other species. Critics said that Bougainville Copper had created an apartheid, segregated system, with one set of facilities for white workers, and one set for the locals.

                  The resulting debt was – as it always is – in the environmental devastation that these sorts of operations inflict as the companies involved externalize their costs of production onto the local people.

                  • Anno1701

                    This is a great film if you are interested in what happened at the Paguna mine

                    the locals decided some real DIRECT action was required to remove the problem, and it worked well !

        • B

          I don’t think you get it. Take a look at the US involvement in South America over the last few decades as a snapshot. Venezuela as an example, what happened with Chavez in ’92 is classic ‘coup factory’ handy work and shows how opposition to the Imperialist Monetary Fund, the plan is simply to put someone there who has strings.
          Unfortunately, due to a world wide propaganda machine we never see the truths and as a result the job of keeping informed rather than misinformed falls on the individual.
          Can you please list examples of where IMF lending has not created tension with in governments and actually improved the social status long term with in the last 30 years?

        • tom

          as a starter there is a doco on the IMF and its effects on Jamaica, is relevant to the topic, called Life and Debt. Is worthwhile watching.
          Also i would refer you to Chomsky, he is a great resource for many reasons, one being he is excellent at referencing so once you find the relevant material you can find where he sources it and from that it opens up huge amount of resouces and info on the particular topic.
          He does cover IMF and the way in which these institutions are extensions of imperialist power, but off top of my head i cannot think of particular book that will go into detail on this topic, but again a bit of searching online should uncover this
          Suffice to say there is vast swathes of info on this topic if one cares to research
          Am away from my resources so cannot get more specific sorry.

          • Gosman

            This article from the Guardian (which isn’t very complementary about IMF imposed Structural Adjustment by the way) suggests the reason why Jamaica got in to debt was because the Government massively increased spending and then the price of oil spiked and interest rates then rose in the 1980’s.


            “Manley became a major figure on the global stage, joining leaders of the non-aligned movement to support the New International Economic Order – a radical set of economic policies to give developing countries genuine economic independence and reduce global inequality. In 1975, Manley told Americans: “Gross maldistribution of the world’s wealth and food is no longer a moral offence only. It now represents the greatest practical threat to peace and to any desirable development of mankind.”

            But his project ran up against the oil crisis of the 1970s. As the price of imports rocketed and exports fell, Jamaica was forced to run up debts. When interest rates rose at the start of the 1980s, debt payments shot up: from 16% of exports in 1977 to a gigantic 35% by 1986″

            This doesn’t meet the scenario postulated by the threads main article which is that the US bullys and cajoles nations to take loans they don’t need.

            • tom

              So you did not watch the doco or research Chomsky, fine, instead found one article that you think clarifies is not relevant and that is it, that is not research as i know it, but i guess thats how you roll.
              At least i know what i am dealing with.
              Get back to me when you have read up on Chomsky, and i would still advise watching the Life and Debt Doco as it may not be exact to the post above but does give a good account of what the IMF are really about in terms of real term affects of their policies

        • Murray Simmonds

          Gosman, could you please learn how to use GOOGLE? Thereby, you might be able educate yourself.

          Its not that difficult. Really.

          You just type in stuff and it gives you the answers. Its called modern technology.

    • ianmac 2.3

      Vietnam Gosman? Promised a new age as long as they abandon the village communal health centres and the village schools. In returnthe big money would build schools (Charter) and hospitals for the rich and the insured.
      The grand hotels were built but all profits flowed out to overseas investors and the only local employment was for cleaners and gardeners.
      The huge grants that USA promised after the war never materialised but the IMF prospered.

      • Gosman 2.3.1

        What do you mean the huge grants the US promised after the war? I don’t think the US promised the Vietnamese government anything from 1975 till relations were normalised in the mid 90’s.

        Your scenario still doesn’t meet the once discussed in the article at the top of this thread.

        • aidan

          some times i can’ believe how much you guys humour gosman by responding to his ridiculous troling, if only he would stop referring to dubious guardian articles and other partisan/ignorant infotainment as instant rebuttals to valid points. you are wasting every ones time gosman, including mine. having to read you and youre inane fellow travellers deliberate obtuseness…

        • ianmac

          Nixon promised that on leaving Vietnam the USA would pour huge money into the rebuild. It never happened.

        • AmaKiwi

          As part of the Paris peace agreement, the US agreed to pay Vietnam BILLIONS. They never paid a cent. (If Gosman wants a link, he can do the research himself.)

  3. Tautoko Mangō Mata 3

    Dr. Paul Craig Roberts has held academic appointments at Virginia Tech, Tulane University, University of New Mexico, Stanford University where he was Senior Research Fellow in the Hoover Institution, George Mason University where he had a joint appointment as professor of economics and professor of business administration, and Georgetown University where he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy in the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
    President Reagan appointed Dr. Roberts Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and he was confirmed in office by the U.S. Senate. From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy. After leaving the Treasury, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

    Now listen to this!

    • Tautoko Mangō Mata 3.1

      TTP and TTIP are stepping stones. We must dislodge the TPP stepping stone!

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        Tautoko Mangō Mata. Thanks for the link to Roberts even though I will be having nightmares for years and am helpless to cure anything.

        • Tautoko Mangō Mata

          I have just put in my submission against the TPP.
          Why does the word “submission” have two such different meanings!
          the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
          the action of presenting a proposal, application, or other document for consideration or judgement.

          I think that the National Party only understand the first meaning!

          • ianmac

            After listening reading a lot about TPPA it seems that the flaws are so huge it seems an impossible task to sum up the guts of the risk/objection.
            The power lies with our MPs and Ministers who dismiss, denigrate, ridicule the objections and covering the flaws with cries of “don’t you want free trade?”
            Sadly by the time the realities come home to roost the current shysters will be long gone.
            How did you sum up your submission (objection?) Tautoko Mangō Mata?

            • aidan

              the whole secrecy thing seems pretty obvious now huh? now they just have to rush it through as fast as they can

          • Mike S

            “Why does the word “submission” have two such different meanings!”

            You think that’s bad, try working out what different words mean in the world of statutes and acts (i.e in the legal world). Not only do many words have completely different meanings to what we would normally understand their meanings to be, but they can also have completely different meanings in different acts or statutes and even have different meanings within the same act.

    • Sprinkles 3.2

      Thank you for posting that. Shit scary and sounds like the unvarnished truth to me. I wish – such a pitiful kind of phrase – this was on the 6 o’clock news. Lol.
      I’d like to know if any NZ MPs or negotiators or company directors have received “gifts” for their part in the promotions or negotiations.

  4. vto 4

    These things happen slowly, then instantly, at which point escape is impossible…

    Methinks we are in the teency tiny bit in the middle of the slow and the instant, likely to be 5+ years..

  5. tsmithfield 5

    Briefly, the ruling establishment has put our civilisation on a course which is leading to massive death and suffering via a nasty combo of environmental and resource exhaustion, fossil fuel energy depletion, severe climate change, and increased societal fragility.

    Good thing for you we didn’t come to an agreement over your proposed wager as per below:

    Colonial Viper
    31 December 2010 at 7:04 pm
    In that case I suggest a wager of NZ$500 to go to a major NZ charity of the winner’s choice tsmithfield. Specifically, I wager you that NYMEX Crude will break US$200 per barrel before the end of 2015. Offer good for 48 hours from now

    Your prediction for oil prices at the end of 2015 would be looking a bit sick by now. To be fair, I guess it shows how hard it is to project future trends: The butterfly effect etc. However, it is a salient point to remember when projecting ahead as in your current article.

    There are some encouraging signs on the horizon. For instance. aluminium battery technology looks promising for replacing lithium battery technology.


    The aluminium batteries are more efficient, hold longer charge, and, more importantly, rely on one of the most abundant elements available in contrast with lithium that is relatively rare.

    It is important to remember that the stone age didn’t end for a lack of stones. So it will be with the oil age. I think there is good hope that technologies such as aluminium batteries will go a long way to solving both the future energy and climate crisis.

    • Phil 5.1

      It is important to remember that the stone age didn’t end for a lack of stones. So it will be with the oil age. I think there is good hope that technologies such as aluminium batteries will go a long way to solving both the future energy and climate crisis.

      … and New York didn’t avert being covered in mountains of horse shit because they ran out of horses.

      The technologies needed to ‘solve’ climate change pretty much already exist, they’re just too expensive at present and the infrastructure to support them needs overhaul. I’m quite confident these things will improve over the next couple of generations, following the same mega trend in technology accessibility we’ve seen for thousands of years.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        I agree. Another exciting possibility is technology the enables carbon to be removed from the atmosphere and then re-used in zero-carbon emission fuels.


        Who knows. In the future we may be extracting solid carbon from the atmosphere and using it in building our infrastructure, effectively locking it away.

          • tsmithfield

            Yes. The eventual consequence of all these technologies is that one day we will be able to regulate the earth’s temperature for the maximum benefit of the planet. We will be able to control where and when it rains to ensure that there is enough food for everyone, and will be able to avoid future ice ages by allowing more carbon to build up in the atmosphere.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yes. The eventual consequence of all these technologies is that one day we will be able to regulate the earth’s temperature for the maximum benefit of the planet.

              Fuck off, dreamer.

              At the very best, if we ever get such technology, it will be used as a physical and economic weapon by the superpowers against weaker and poorer countries which refuse to fall in line.

              • One Anonymous Bloke


                $200 per barrel eh.

                • Colonial Viper

                  My timing was wrong, I admit that. I fell into the trap that unaffordable oil was oil at a high price.

                  Turns out the world economy can’t even afford oil at a low price now.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    And that shows the delusion of the monetary system. It says that we can afford something because of the low price and disregards the physical consequences.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Supply slightly up (since 2008), demand slightly down, providing downward pressure on price.

                      What we’d like to see is demand continuing to fall, especially if that means we’re actually burning less.

                      Look who’s dreaming now 🙂

                    • Colonial Viper

                      You can crush demand for energy and raw materials by inducing deep recessions in countries, reducing the real incomes of the bottom 90% and hence reducing both consumer and commercial consumption.

                      And that’s what’s been happening.

                  • RedLogix

                    The PO prediction was that for a long time the price would become highly volatile.

                    The idea that it would go just go high and stay high was always wrong.

              • Stuart Munro

                There is a trajectory for new technologies that usually begins with weaponry and only later develops more sophisticated potential – the prime example being the laser, which was first developed as a death ray, but wasn’t very effective. It has become ubiquitous with its use in data storage and retrieval.

                The main obstacle to tsmithfield’s assertion is not the potential power of fusion technology should it ever be developed, but understanding weather patterns well enough to interfere constructively.

                Geoengineering projects are already politically fraught.

                • lprent

                  Not to mention that we simply don’t know enough about the maths to predict anything. Plus most of our possible tech like fusion are likely to actually throw out heat in vast quantities either directly or indirectly. We can’t predict the effects of that.

                  Now if we had a technology to cool an object in space like earth, it’d be easier. However the only technique for that involve very large objects in space reducing insolation.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    We can up our energy footprint relatively easily (I mean easily compared with developing stable fusion at current tech levels) with orbital mirrors – they won’t decrease global warming though.

                    Tinkering with global albedo is also possible, but given that the effects are potentially serious, longlasting, and well outside our current predictive capacity it would be unwise to a degree that makes Trump look (marginally) sane. Better to learn the basic principles of terraforming on a currently lifeless rock like the moon than screw up earth doing trial and error.

                    One of the problems is, as with geoengineering – some countries (like Russia) wouldn’t mind a few degrees of global warming – Pacific islands & central Asia not so much.

                • lprent

                  Not to mention that we simply don’t know enough about the maths to predict anything. Plus most of our possible tech like fusion are likely to actually throw out heat in vast quantities either directly or indirectly. We can’t predict the effects of that. Some of the back of the envelope analysis of using possible fusion tech to sequester existing CO2 tends to indicate that the solution just increases the problem.

                  Now if we had a technology to cool an object in space like earth, it’d be easier. However the only technique for that involve very large objects in space reducing insolation.

          • Macro

            Yep we have heard all about this before – but we have only 10 years left before basically we are stuffed.
            here is one example

            When the Iter agreement was signed in 2006, the reactor was supposed to begin operations in 2016. With the subsequent redesign and construction delays, the current timetable does not involve a switch-on until 2020 and there will not be a working plasma in the tokamak before around 2022. The all-important fusion reactions are not likely to occur before 2027, more than 20 years after building started.

            Furthermore the mass of concrete and steel necessary causes just about as much CO2 emissions as the damn thing will save!

            • BM

              iter is completely different to the two examples in my post.
              It’s also a white elephant.

              Reminds me a bit of Novopay, it took so long to get going by the time the project kicked off it , better options had surfaced.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                it took so long to get going by the time the project kicked off it , better options had surfaced.

                Ones in which teachers got paid. For example, Steven Joyce could have ridden around the country in a giant dildo shaped car, dressed as John Key, paying teachers individually in cash.

                Of course, to go live with something so obviously flawed would be beyond stupid. No, wait… I sense a disturbance in the force: it’s the great void where the National Party’s personal responsibility never is.

          • Colonial Viper


            Until you can show me a 10MW or bigger fusion reactor supplying power 24/7 into the local grid, it’s just vapourware, and has been for the last 60 years.

            • Incognito

              A fusion reactor that operates 24/7 and has a power output of 3.846×10^26 W? Hmm, let me Google that …

              • Colonial Viper


                The Russians had the first power grid connected nuclear reactor: 1954.

                6MW generation capacity.

                To me, fusion power becomes a real thing when something similar is up and running.

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      Your prediction for oil prices at the end of 2015 would be looking a bit sick by now. To be fair, I guess it shows how hard it is to project future trends: The butterfly effect etc. However, it is a salient point to remember when projecting ahead as in your current article.

      Turn a blind eye to the future all you want tsmithfield but the bottom line remains:

      I was wrong in thinking that the world economy could not afford oil at $200 per barrel.

      The world economy is stagnating so badly that it cannot even afford crude oil at US$45 a barrel today.

      The economic recovery everyone hoped for in 2011 never came. Welcome to the new normal.

      And the western imperial power is going to tighten its grip over the poor and the weak even more.

    • Colonial Viper 5.3

      The aluminium batteries are more efficient, hold longer charge, and, more importantly, rely on one of the most abundant elements available in contrast with lithium that is relatively rare.

      Batteries are not a source of energy.

      Batteries cannot replace fossil fuels as a source of energy because batteries are not a source of energy.

      Batteries are a fuel tank, not a fuel.

      • ianmac 5.3.1

        “Aluminium–air batteries are primary cells; i.e., non-rechargeable.”

      • tsmithfield 5.3.2

        But renewable sources of energy can charge those batteries. So long as renewable sources are used then that is good for the environment.

        Also, in reply to ianmac, read the article I linked to. The aluminium batteries recently developed are rechargeable.

        Also, one of the advantages of the aluminium batteries is their long life. So, they won’t need to be manufactured as often, or disposed of as frequently. So there will be less carbon emissions in the manufacture and less pollution in the disposal of them.

        Also, when applied to car technology they will provide a much quicker charge, and a much longer range, which is one of the problems of existing battery technology. Battery technology will be a lot cheaper due to using a much cheaper element than lithium. Once oil prices start going up again (I do think $200 per barrel is a realistic possibility at some stage) then electric car technology will take off due to the better battery technology.

        Also, think of the current use of photo-voltaic cells in electricity generation. A major disadvantage at the moment is the expense of storing the energy. If we have much better and cheaper battery technology, then there will be much more incentive to use the likes of photo-voltaic cells to generate electricity.

        I agree there are lots of problems facing the world. However, I think you are a bit overly negative in your prognosis. Several of us have been pointing out a few of many emerging technologies that have the potential to change the future of humanity. So, I think there is reason to have some hope that many of the problems could be avoided.

        I think it is good to keep in mind the butterfly effect when making predictions. $200 a barrel did look like quite a good possibility back in 2010 didn’t it. However, reality turned out to be far different.

        • ianmac

          Thanks ts Smithfield. “In addition to small electronic devices, aluminum batteries could be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, Dai said.”
          That is of particular interest to me and therefore the planet. In spite of most of NZ electricity being from re-newable sources and the Government being disinterested in solar supply, there will still be a future in self sufficiency. The Suppliers would like to drop all line (daily) charges, and get District Councils to collect the maintenance cost via rates. So…

          • tsmithfield

            No problems. I have looked at photovoltaic technology myself. However, I couldn’t rationalize the cost because my house is empty during the day. However, if the power could be stored economically I would be much more interested.

            • Colonial Viper

              NZ is in a good situation with our renewable electricity supply, no doubt about it.

              But most of the world’s electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels – or by splitting the atom.

              Nevertheless, electricity cannot successfully replace fossil fuels except in some specific applications.

            • lprent

              That is the key for solar – storage. The only economic one I have seen has been lifting water against gravity at a low efficiency, and then running it down later to generate power. That assumes that they power generation cost is close to zero.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The only economic one I have seen has been lifting water against gravity at a low efficiency, and then running it down later to generate power

                Well, if you have a heap of solar/wind power that absolutely must be used then pumping the water back up the river makes sense – unless it overly decreases water in the river.

                This is where having a government monopoly on power generation, including the solar panels on houses, works out. Such a monopoly would be able to plan for all the scenarios that a wide area network of intermittent renewable supply would throw up whereas competing companies can’t.

                • Stuart Munro

                  If you’re going to solar pump water long term you should desalinate it & irrigate, as long as it’s for integrated mixed farming or horticulture, not dairy CAFOs. The productivity of arid areas like Ward, North Canterbury, (and Treasury) would increase markedly, and with proper mitigation without depleting aquifers or eutrophying existing fresh water bodies.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Using excess solar power to pump water back up is a form of storage. It essentially allows the ability to keep hydro lakes topped up so power is available when the solar power isn’t.

              • ianmac

                We splashed out on photovoltaic and at this time of the year we have about 7-8kw per day surplus. We use about 4-5kw each night. If we could store that surplus it would become closer to cost effective. As it is our house is now low user so our monthly bill is about $65. (Until winter and the heat pump!) Daily user line charges were about $70pm for our town.

                • Gristle

                  Think of kW as an instantaneous reading of how much energy you are using. You want to accumulate all your instantaneous readings into a bucket and that is your kWhr (kilowatt hour: or running a one kilowatt bar heater for one hour).

                  Each kWhr will cost you about $0.20 to $0.25 when you buy it from the energy retailer and then when you back feed into the network the retailer will buy it from you for about $0.07 to $0.11 per kWhr.

                  Line charges are found as firstly, daily connection fees; and secondly as part of the kWhr charged by the lines company.

                  Battery technologies are developing quickly, but to dominate the electricity landscape you need to have one that is:
                  1. be cheap
                  2. be efficient (there are losses with chargers, invertors and in the battery.)
                  3. Not rare earth element based. (Hint, why are they called “rare.”) Something like Vanadium batteries or salt water batteries are a better bet for stationery uses. Lithium (eg Tesla) batteries have high energy density and are better for mobile uses like cars and drills.
                  4. Long life. At least 10,000 cycles.
                  5. Recoverable from a complete discharge.

                  PVs by themselves add substantial problems to the electricity network in terms of peak demand remains, “pollution” in the form of harmonic distortion starts to become a problem at some level (maybe as low as 30% penetration), increased voltage values exceeding safe levels. Cutting free from the network solves those problems, but then what do you do at night.

                  • ianmac

                    We watch and hope the the storage problem gets solved cheaply and safely and as you say using common substances. The recovery from complete discharge I didn’t know about. Thanks Gristle and others.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I ask people to remember that the energy/climate window closes on this civilisation sometime between 2030 and 2040. After that, adaptation will become very difficult because circumstances will become very difficult.

                      In other words, the technology we have today is the technology we have to use.

                      There isn’t any time to wait and see what is ten years around the corner because that will leave too little time for commercialisation and implementation.

    • AmaKiwi 5.4

      @ tsmithfield

      But you didn’t take Viper’s bet, so the joke is on you.

  6. One Anonymous Bloke 6


    Freudian gibberish meets Economicish.

    A sacrifice that Gelos is sure to accept.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Choose life? It seems our civilisation has decided to choose something else.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        It seems that way to you, that’s f’sure.

        • Colonial Viper

          And to Paul Craig Roberts, and to John Perkins, and to Chris Hedges, and to many others who pay attention to our ruling establishment today and through history.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Of course there are those who agree with you: that’s the whole Thanatos thing: it’s your fixation.

            • Colonial Viper

              Dmitry Orlov, Chris Martenson, Max Keiser/Stacey Herbert, John Michael Greer, of course all in their own way and from their own perspectives

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                You’ve got a death cult. So what?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Hmmm. I’m just identifying the death cult. It’s not mine.

                  Our civilisation has embraced Thanatos wholeheartedly.

                  It is very far along a trajectory towards the destruction of many different peoples and lands, killing and poisoning everything in the seas, and is now bent on its own self destruction, celebrating, rationalising and partying all the way there.

                  As Roberts noted, we need to embrace an alternative economics and an alternative ethos, the economics of life.

                • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                  Max Keiser/Stacey Herbert

                  They share a body? That goes some way to explaining it.

        • greywarshark

          Geez One Anonymous Bloke. If you don’t agree with Colonial Viper about anything don’t say anything. How can we have reasoned discussion with your niggling mind carrying your pathetic little fight with CV all the time. Save your breath and give us some long form comments will you instead of your shitty two liners.

          Or at the end of the day your can put an encompassing comment that most of what has been said is rubbish except for this point – then spell that out and explain it for us. You are capable so let’s have a break from your present hostility.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            How can you have a reasoned argument? By employing one. There are five threads on this post and this is the one you’re in 🙄

            Or are two lines too much for you to scroll past?

  7. Duncan 7

    I haven’t read all the comments yet but I think the post from CV is quite brilliant.
    Maybe people are beginning to understand what nurtures us is not Mr Key but the real world that surrounds us.

  8. Incognito 8

    To repay the IMF, the country has to accept an austerity plan and agree to sell national assets to private investors.

    I recall that the asset sales were forced through on the premise (or was it promise?) that the proceeds would be used to pay down debt. I don’t think NZ borrows from the IMF (not yet) but what does the National debt clock say?

    Oh dear, that is a rather large number; it fills my whole screen!

  9. Murray Simmonds 9

    I found these two articles by Jeff Nielson very interesting and informative.



    Dunno whether or not to believe this interesting line of conspiracy theories – but the articles are well-written, very readable and extremely thought-provoking.

    And this:
    How the Court Jester became King of the United States.
    Jeff Nielsen Feb 2016

    “The Big Business oligarchy which controls the U.S. government . , , hand-picked Jeb Bush to be the next U.S. king, the last, direct descendant of convicted traitor, Prescott Bush, who had not been made king . . . . .
    The obvious problem with this decree is that Jeb Bush is an irredeemable idiot.”


    A fascinating analysis and set of predictions!

  10. Paul 10

    Outstanding and thought provoking post cv.
    Thanks – and I’ve also enjoyed several of the extra sources provided.

  11. savenz 11

    Great post. +100 CV.

  12. aidan 12

    with regards to the massive debt our country is currently accruing, does any one else connect the dots in the context of this book?

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      The context for NZ is an interesting one. Being a member of the FVEY group and a notable country in the Anglo/US bloc conveys upon us certain privileges.

      Also we have a pliable, compliant ruling establishment (National/Labour/Deep State) which doesn’t really need to be coerced into accepting the (relatively light) chains of western empire, partly because we do continue to get significant benefits from being a peripheral part of that empire.

      We are not an impoverished “district” like Panem from “The Hunger Games”, we are a wealthier more privileged district, yet we must continue to pay the tributes required of us to maintain that status.

      Overall our Government debt levels are still quite low, but our sky high private sector debt is what we really need to worry about.

  13. johnm 13

    Just some thoughts:

    1. Gosman is like a climate change denier, no matter the evidence he ignores it and comes up with quibbles and objections. Gosman is a troll and they are usually sent to ice station zebra on the Antarctic shelf to do their thing there.

    2. Ireland: the banks racked up huge debts from overseas banks that fed into a huge property bubble, making the developers, banks and others filthy rich who then disappeared when it crashed. Ireland’s government had no legal necessity to cover these debts and could have let the banks go bust and the foreign bondholders eat the loss.
    But instead they accepted the liability and used the tax money of ordinary Irish People to pay off the debt! Iceland did the opposite and is doing well again after jailing some of the bankers.
    Instead of paying off a number of parties it was agreed the IMF pay the debts and the Irish people became debt serfs to the IMF!
    The country has become impoverished as a result with privatisation and rentier charges for instance on water supply All the while interest ratchets up on the debt.

    3. Greece is currently being looted.

    4. The same process has impoverished American people with the huge bail outs of the banks and finance centre there.

    Could go on and on. Libya and Iraq have suffered the same fate with western oil companies moving in for the loot.

    Book to read:

    Killing the Host, How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy
    Michael Hudson

  14. Richard@Down South 14

    Might be a little late to this, but I watched The Big Short today… you really have to watch it… 2008 is just a precursor

  15. johnm 15

    Western Peoples Are Being Re-Enserfed

    Following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, free farmers were defenceless in the face of Viking, Magyar, and Saracen raiders. The need for protection led to the enserfment of free people who accepted the suzerainty of those able to provide walled defenses and armed fighters to ward off attacks. As time passed, the attacks ceased but the feudal arrangements persisted, and the system became exploitative.

    Today jobs offshoring and the financialization of the economy are again enserfing the people, but the cause is debt, not armed invaders. Today’s rentier class, unlike the one that emerged from feudalism, has never provided any service in exchange for the debt peonage that it has imposed.

    Below is an excerpt from the Introduction to the German edition of Michael Hudson’s book, Killing the Host to be published in November by Klett-Cotta:

    Today’s reversal of progressive values is a historical transition point much like what occurred from the Roman Republic to Empire during the century of Social War, 133-29 BC. Rome’s debtors and plebs lost in a wave of political violence. It was by murder that the oligarchic party prevented the reforms of Tiberius Gracchus in Rome after 133 BC. Julius Caesar suffered a similar fate in 44 BC after moving to take the demos into his camp. Other politicians urging debt cancellation also were killed.

    Rome survived not by prosperity at home but by looting foreign regions. Arminius made a brave stand to resist Rome in 9 AD in the Teutoburg forest. But by that time the die was cast. Over the next few centuries the oligarchs imposed debt bondage on a quarter of the population, plunging the imperial economy into serfdom.

    Are we going down a similar road today, leading to debt peonage and war against countries daring to resist? As the modern Rome, the United States is backing creditor-oriented rules throughout its economic sphere. This book describes the cruel creditor rulings imposed on Argentina as setting legal precedent for holdouts and vulture funds to block any government from reaching agreement with bondholders to bring its debts in line with the ability to pay. The world’s debtor economies are to be treated as Germany was in the 1920s, or face being broken as Greece has been.

    Western civilization stands at a turning point between creditor and debtor interests similar to that of Rome two thousand years ago – a clash over what kind of economic society will emerge for the rest of this century. Samuel Huntington coined the term “clash of civilizations” in 1992. But he was not referring to the West’s own internal financial war by today’s oligarchy to reverse the Enlightenment’s program to free industrial capitalism from post-feudal rent seeking and financialization.

    Neoliberals depict today’s neo-rentier Counter-Enlightenment as the end of history, as if the conflict has been settled and there can be no revival of the classical struggle to make economies more equitable. That was Francis Fukuyama’s message in The End of History and the Last Man. Like Huntington’s essay it was published in 1992, in the wake of dissolution of the Soviet Union and its replacement by privatizers using shock therapy to destroy that nation’s industrial base. But in a February 1, 2012 interview with Der Spiegel, Fukuyama acknowledged that his paean to neoliberalism had been premature: “Obama had a big opportunity right at the middle of the crisis. That was around the time Newsweek carried the title: ‘We Are All Socialists Now.’ Obama’s team could have nationalized the banks and then sold them off piecemeal. But their whole view of what is possible and desirable is still very much shaped by the needs of these big banks.”

    Europe is being asked to endorse the ECB supplying more liquidity to the banks, as if bank loans will finance new capital investment and employment, not deeper debt deflation. Voters are being asked to trust the trickle-down promise that privatizing the public domain will deliver infrastructure services more efficiently and at lower cost. The reality is that predatory tollbooth rents and interest charges will be factored into the prices that new monopolists set.

    Such asset stripping and debt deflation can spread throughout the world only if no better alternative is seen. My aim in this book has been to outline such an alternative, based on the classical analytic tools and policy reform developed from the 17th through early 20th centuries to free economies from unearned rentier income and predatory finance.

    A dream that history will work out for the best because of some natural selection of the most fair, productive and peaceful societies leaves out of account the threat posed by vested interests, capped by today’s financial oligarchy. Today’s debt deflation and austerity is not a survival of the technologically fittest mode of economic organization. It is a regressive rentier policy by post-feudal vested interests fighting to retain their special privileges and prevent themselves from being taxed and regulated.

    The question is whether voters will let neoliberal managers concentrate power in the hands of the One Percent and treat debtors like Allied creditors treated Germany a century ago. Even worse, will they follow their Roman predecessors and drive their empire into a Dark Age?

    It is a sign of the possible future that as the world’s leading financial and military power, the United States suffers from one of the most extreme concentrations of income and wealth. The One Percent have monopolized the gains that are reported, and these gains are not really an addition to national prosperity. They are a transfer of economic rent and interest – and property – from the 99 Percent to the top of the economic pyramid.

    Today’s national income statistics do not label economic rent as such. A misleading intellectual map is drawn to distract attention from the actual dynamics at work. This book describes how high finance has politicized its power grab by using junk economics to depict the financial sector and its rent-extracting clients as “job creators,” not job destroyers. Using a rhetoric of “personal responsibility” to blame the victims for their indebtedness, its moral philosophy is that all debts must be paid, without regard for how this tears society apart.

    There is an alternative. Achieving it requires understanding the dynamics at work and distinguishing between earned and unearned income, between productive and unproductive means of gaining wealth. That is the antidote to the neo-rentier power grab.


    • johnm 15.1

      NZ Government now owes 67Bill overseas increasing all the time plus on top compound interest. NZ is already a debt serf, this will never be paid off ever! Global economy is depressed maybe for ever as the limits to growth are here now with blowback from environment over exploitation.

  16. johnm 16

    the Global Death Economy

  17. johnm 17

    The Global Death Economy continued……

    Sara Flounders: The very groups the US armed and financed the militias they’ve set up, these outrageous “rebel forces” of course not only can’t govern Libya, they can’t even reconcile and have relations with each other. The real failure in Libya was created by US bombs that systematically destroyed the entire infrastructure, especially the water, the irrigation, the electric grid, food services, everything in Libya that the population needed. And the only funds – the money – have been in weapons. So, this is a failed state created by US and NATO systematically, and the destruction of every single government agency which once provided the highest standard of living in Africa, and today – enormous misery. So, it is really not only hypocrisy, these are war criminals and they should be charged as such.


    • johnm 17.1

      Until The Global Death Economy visited Libya was happy:


      “ In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful…
      For 40 years, or was it longer, I can’t remember, I did all I could to give people
      houses, hospitals, schools, and when they were hungry, I gave them food.
      I even made Benghazi into farmland from the desert.

      I stood up to attacks from that cowboy Ronald Reagan, when he killed my
      adopted orphaned daughter, he was trying to kill me, instead he killed that
      poor innocent child. Then I helped my brothers and sisters from Africa with
      money for the African Union.

      I did all I could to help people understand the concept of real democracy,
      where people’s committees ran our country. But that was never enough,
      as some told me, even people who had 10 room homes, new suits and
      furniture, were never satisfied, as selfish as they were, they wanted more.

      But they were enchanted with those words, never realizing that in America
      there was no free medicine, no free hospitals, no free housing, no free free
      education, and no free food, except for when people had to beg or go to long
      lines to get soup.

      No, no matter what I did, it was never enough for some, but for others, they
      knew I was the son of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the only true Arab and Muslim
      leader we’ve had since Salah-al-Deen, when he claimed the Suez Canal for
      his people, as I claimed Libya, for my people, it was his footsteps I tried to follow –
      to keep my people free from colonial domination – from thieves who would
      steal from us.

      Now, I am under attack by the biggest force in military history, my little
      African son, Obama wants to kill me, to take away the freedom of our country,
      to take away our free housing, our free medicine, our free education, our
      free food, and replace it with American style thievery, called “capitalism”.

      But all of us in the Third World know what that means, it means corporations
      run the countries, run the world, and the people suffer. So, there is no alternative
      for me, I must make my stand, and if Allah wishes, I shall die by following
      His path, the path that has made our country rich with farmland, with food and
      health, and even allowed us to help our African and Arab brothers and sisters.

      I do not wish to die, but if it comes to that, to save this land, my people, all
      the thousands who are all my children, then so be it. Let this testament be my
      voice to the world, that I stood up to crusader attacks of NATO, stood up to
      cruelty, stoop up to betrayal, stood up to the West and its colonialist ambitions,
      and that I stood with my African brothers, my true Arab and Muslim brothers,
      as a beacon of light.

      When others were building castles, I lived in a modest house, and in a tent.
      I never forgot my youth in Sirte, I did not spend our national treasury foolishly,
      and like Salah-al-Deen, our great Muslim leader, who rescued Jerusalem
      for Islam, I took little for myself…
      In the West, some have called me “mad”, “crazy”, but they know the truth,
      yet continue to lie. They know that our land is independent and free, not in
      the colonial grip, that my vision, my path is, and has been clear and for my
      people and that I will fight to my last breath to keep us free, may Allah almighty
      help us to remain faithful and free”.

      My brothers and sisters let’s start loving more of each other and stop killing
      each other cause Europe America and other western world will never want
      to see sunshine for Africans..”

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