This is to the people who commented on my post of last week, and that includes Aesop. Let me address a few of the points here.

  • So we have rampant illegals entering the country. How do you stop that? Voting for Republicans? Where has that gotten us? Or do you want to head to the border and take on the cartels, US law enforcement, and the national guard? Is that the hill you literally want to die on?
  • We haven’t built a refinery in 40 years. So? Are you going to use guns and force people to build some? Vote for one?
  • You think you’re going to cause a societal collapse? How? You have a plan?

To Aesop: Yes, I believe that a collapse of this country is mathematically certain. There is no other possible outcome at this point. We are more than $31 trillion in actual debt, with another $50 trillion in mandated spending just in Social Security payments over the next decade. What do you think will happen to the first Congresscritter that proposes cutting those checks? His career will be measured in days. No politician is going near that third rail of politics. Top that off with another $4 trillion in interest payments on the debt we already have. In case you haven’t been paying attention, we are borrowing $1.2 trillion a year, and there is no motivation from either party to slow down the spending spree.

So even if you were to overthrow the powers that be, who do you put in charge? What will they do to fix it? Who in the American public will accept the fact that Uncle Sam has put away the checkbook? Will the 69 million people currently on Social Security accept the fact that the checks have stopped? How about the additional 10 million people who are due to begin collecting within the next 7 years? Will they accept the fact that there is no more money? How about the 93 million people on Medicaid? The 41 million on food stamps? 65 million on Welfare? Now I know that there is a good bit of overlap, but my best guess is that just about half of the country is receiving some form of government handout. What will they do when you, having overthrown the current powers that be, announce that there is no money?

One in 20 US adults is collecting disability. I personally know five people who are, and they seem to have no problems riding roller coasters, running marathons, and going out partying. There are lawyers out there that make a living on disability payments for “back injuries” and “fibromyalgia.” I warned my readers about this a decade ago. Then in 2016, I warned all of you that we were monetizing the debt, and it would eventually cause inflation.

Nope. Every path forward ends in one place: we stop spending more than we have.

There is no path to victory that results in a return to the good old days, whatever you consider those to be. It’s a fact. No matter who is in charge, we are broke. Republicans, Democrats, Whigs, Libertarians, it won’t matter. Once the rest of the world figures it out, there is going to be an end to the dollar as a reserve currency. Then when the general population realizes this, there will be plenty of unrest and riots for everyone to participate.

You can’t shoot your way out of this. You can’t protest it away. Mathematics and economics are cold-hearted, inescapable bitches. There aren’t any sides to join. You can’t cross over and join the side of math. Once the money is gone, it’s gone. Like a Terminator, economic reality can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with, and it will not stop until you are dead.

At the end of World War 2, this nation inherited a world where we were the most dominant manufacturing, farming, and economic nation in the world, mostly because the rest of the developed world had seen its farms and factories destroyed by warfare. This created a golden age for the US. Instead of continuing to work and maintain that standard of living, the Baby Boomers partied and spent it all on baubles and bullshit. Once that was gone, they began to borrow from future generations. It became a never ending spree of parties and excess. That’s why they won’t give up power today. They would rather be wheeled in to office looking like a moving corpse than give up power.

I have seen better looking corpses

What’s unfortunate is that we, the Gen X people inherited the world that they created, and many of us tried to continue the party, but the money must eventually run out. So Generation X, the Millennials, and the Snowflake generation are going to inherit what is left: a dying society and a pile of unpaid bills.

When all of this comes to a head, we are going to get a new nation. My guess is that we will see one of two outcomes:

  1. A nation that is made up of the territory we have now, perhaps with some losses of territory that we just can’t defend (Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific territories, Puerto Rico, and the counties located along the Mexican border) because we are out of money. That nation will likely wind up as a dictatorship.
  2. A nation that is made up of fractured pieces of what used to be the US. I think that in this outcome, the US will fracture into ten or more regional states. Again, the Pacific territories and Hawaii will belong to China. Alaska will either go to Russia or China. Large areas of the nation, centered around the largest cities, will become third world shitholes. Going anywhere within 50 miles of places like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, Saint Louis, or DC will mean taking your life in your hands.

If you want to see where we are headed, look no further than this post from 2010.

It’s gonna be shitty for awhile. So my position still stands. I will, of course, entertain anyone who sees another path forward. Tell me how I am wrong, or tell me how we avoid an economic collapse, and don’t tell me how you are going to get half the nation to accept the money hose getting shut off without tearing the nation apart. Heck, half of the people who read this blog will argue about how the DESERVE their social security checks, because they paid into the system for their entire working life. People just aren’t ready to admit that their money is gone- it’s been spent already. The boomers in charge have spent it all. There is no trust fund- it’s just a file cabinet full of IOUs.

Categories: economicsThe Collapse


ML Thomas · May 15, 2023 at 5:42 am

You Can’t Argue With The Truth

Chipmunk · May 15, 2023 at 6:58 am

I never expected to recoup any of the money I’ve put in to Social Security; saw it as the Ponzi scheme it is when I started working 50 years ago. It has been depleted even faster by the constant raiding of the funds for God knows what over the years

BobF · May 15, 2023 at 7:16 am

I agree with your math and I agree that this country will cease to exist in its present form — there are no “fixes” to make it right, right being the old country we grew up in.

However, this “baby boomer,” born in 1945, spent 30 years in the military serving this country and had 23 addresses in that period. After all hose moves with weight limits I owned little when I retired and what I did own was lightweight and therefore almost junk. I do remember remarking once that there were six moving inventory item number stickers on the back of a dresser, something of a record for the life of a piece of furniture. Retirement meant pretty much starting over for me and my family. Partying and spending it all on baubles and builshit? HARDLY. BULLSHIT.

My service of 30 years came with an agreement, part of which has been abrogated by the other contracted party, the US government, the remainder of which is my monthly retirement check. That is not a benefit such as free money, food, and phones for those who have done little or nothing productive to serve their families, their neighborhoods, or their greater communities; the idea of serving anything greater than those modest groups is pure fantasy — it isn’t in their sphere of thought. I WORKED for my retirement pay and it is not classified as a benefit in the government books, but many (most?) fail to see the difference. Their words fail to make the distinction, so the assumption of many is that there IS no distinction.

I receive disability compensation from the Veterans Administration. Admittedly it is via a convoluted formula that I fought once with two doctors who spent most of the two separate examination periods in two different states’ hospitals
bitching about having to drive so far to serve their weekend. Six service-connected spine surgeries later I have been on pain killers for over 20 years. Yeah, lots of fun and I get lumped into the “drug users” by damned near every politician who speaks on the subject. Fuck ’em. I’ll make them an offer to trade places for just a week. The bastards won’t make it.

Social Security? You’re damned right I’ll yell that I “DESERVE (their) social security checks, because (they) paid into the system for their entire working life.” It is purely a matter of fact. THE FACT THAT THE MONEY HAS BEEN STOLEN BY POLITICIANS DOESN’T CHANGE THE FACT THAT I DESERVE it. And “deserve” isn’t the word *I* would actually use. It is OWED to me. In the end, I WILL get screwed, but don’t tell me it isn’t owed to me.

Yes, I believe this country is going to hell in a handbasket, and in more ways than fiscal, and yes, I believe it is off the cliff’s edge now, but there are a hell of a lot of us who are getting more screwed than some others and I’ll be damned if I’ll be quiet about it.

    Xoph · May 15, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    BobF, my father retired after 20 years with disability. My mother has been collecting his retirement for 33 years. He died just before the birth of my first daughter, of cancer, after being at the Bikini Atoll tests. I got out of the Navy after 6 years, it was career or family. So I do understand and empathize with your point of view..

    I’m part of Generation Jones as some are calling it, the 10 year bridge between baby boomers and Gen X. Over 20 years ago for an economics class I did a paper on Social Security. It is not an investment like a 401K, it is a tax. Every dollar paid in goes out the same year. Any not spend by the SSA is spent by another bureau who gives an IOU. I told my wife that if we had to depend on SS by the time we retired we were screwed.

    We didn’t go on fancy vacations or buy flashy cars. We paid off our house, paid cash for cars, and every year our bank balance was bigger. A bit of a pause while we got our daughter through college with no loans. I can’t collect SS for another few years and doubt it will even exist. Everything I contributed is gone, it is and always has been a tax.

    Who will pay off the debt? It is an obligation we have given to our kids and grand-kids. They are debt slaves. I’ve complained about this for decades. No one wanted to listen or think of the consequences. I’ve been labeled a kook for 2 decades now. Romans frequently sold their children to clear their debts. Who will own your grand-kids?

    Ultimate Ordnance · May 15, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Agree 100%. I retired from the Army in 1993, went to college on the G.I. bill and got a degree as a programmer, worked another 20+ years at then, and then retired. The Army wore out my body and programming wore out my brain. I earned every penny that is OWED to me.

Techiedude · May 15, 2023 at 8:13 am

I think the worst part about your post is the image of that decrepit old ghoul being wheeled into the senate.

I’m a big fan of ‘the fourth turning’, it makes the most sense in all of this. But what breaks the model is these greedy, power hungry geezers still clinging to power. They were supposed to be long gone, with the boomers being the ‘elder statesmen’ (god help us). There are a lot of them and they are all end-era Silents – born before the end of WW2.

I think we’ll split into regions, but I think the border will be fixed in the end. When the tit dries up and it’s weapons free, most will lose the incentive to migrate, and will have a powerful motivation to leave.

    Skyler the Weird · May 15, 2023 at 10:41 am

    Feinstein’s adenochrome stopped working.

neomunitor · May 15, 2023 at 8:43 am

Taking the three points in reverse order:
3. Societal collapse – it will happen two ways, first by itself when the economy collapses catastrophically, as it will, because the USD is built on promises, not production. The only US exports of note are advanced weapons and hydrocarbons. The internal, real economy is entirely labor for assembly and services that can’t be outsourced to foreign countries. All the components used are fabricated elsewhere. We both agree on this spontaneous, inevitable economic collapse scenario, and the societal one follows because the country is full of racially aligned gangs that outnumber LEOs significantly, and is awash in firearms.

The second way we get societal collapse is insurrection prior to the random moment of spontaneous economic collapse. Some groundswell of vigilante action across the country triggers a clampdown and the US economy breaks because it is so fragile and we get the economic collapse that was coming, anyway, as all the foreigners realize the emperor has no clothes.

2. Refineries: You get what you incentivize – About 15 years ago Shell spent $4B USD to update their refinery at Deer Park, TX, and took over five years to do the work. It will take them 20 years to make a return on that investment. Nobody builds new refineries because they can’t get permits and they can invest the money elsewhere more profitably. Make it a reasonable way to make money and they will do it. The hydrocarbons industry is the largest capital industry in the US because the assets are here, so the investment is here. People don’t realize that the amount of money involved dwarfs just about every other industry. The entire Space Shuttle program spent $20B over its life. One deepwater project in the Gulf of Mexico can spend $7B.

1. Illegals: You get what you incentivize – right now illegals are incentivized to enter the US because they are being enticed to come here for economic and security reasons. The uniparty government provided benefits to illegals are estimated to be worth about $2500/month, more than the average social security recipient receives. Why wouldn’t they?

So the choice is to continue to let them pour in, and when the economic collapse happens in the future a couple of years down the road, deal with 20 million more of them, or trigger the collapse now and deal with what we have, because once the collapse is triggered there will be less incentive for more illegals to come here. Unfortunately there will be some incentive, because the Hispanic gangs in the border cities will welcome MAM as recruits to their ranks, albeit in small numbers.

Which brings up your scenarios for the post economic collapse condition of the US. Those seem like reasonably possible scenarios. There are others that are also reasonable.

I think what this discussion is missing is that the groundswell vigilante action that might trigger an early collapse is not something organized. It could happen any day. The conditions for it are present. I’ve studied all the material that the government ARIS project published, as well as other material on insurrections, and revolutions, and all it would take is a significant economic downturn to add the pressure on society to cause a blowup. If the administration continues to press their progressive agenda and ignores the economy and financial situation, they will almost certainly trigger a severe economic downturn and create that final condition. At that point it would only take a trigger event and the unrest would sweep across the country.

    Divemedic · May 15, 2023 at 9:29 am

    and in the end, will the result be any different? What is the end result of ANY possible scenario?

    There is a third scenario that we haven’t considered. A state (or states) goes ahead and decides that the US is a paper tiger and unofficially secedes, which starts the fracturing process. Example: Texas, tired of being overrun by illegals that the Federal government seems unwilling or unable to stop, mobilizes the National Guard and unilaterally goes to war over it. The State of Texas has 22,000 troops in its Army and Air National Guard. They have a wing of MQ-9 reapers, a fighter wing of F-16s, and a tactical airlift wing of C-130s. On the ground, they have a Special Forces group, an Infantry division, and a host of other units.

    They are strong enough to hold their own against Mexico, especially if joined by a couple of other states.

      Jonesy · May 15, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      There’s another question that I know no one can answer but many have touched on… long can the current system hold out? Because at that point, if you haven’t received what you think you are “owed”, it ain’t gonna be there after.

      All of the post collapse scenarios are plausible. All of the people coming across the border is a feature of the run up to collapse, straight from Cloward/Piven; overwhelm the system. All these people will need food and housing. And what? The last 14 years worth of illegals is the population of NYC? TPTB will try to make some progress on gun control to make a few key cities completely dependent on the fed gov, but I think it will be limited and local.

      I think we’ll be in a hot war with China and/or Russia before the system collapses. It’s the ultimate head fake to distract the public from what’s to come. And what better way to keep US dollar as the reserve currency a bit longer than force countries at gun point to use it. Assuming we are the victors.

      Nothing but hard times ahead….

      neomunitor · May 15, 2023 at 10:22 pm

      I think having a rational discussion about this is important, but it is uncomfortable. The reality is that when things fall apart in places it will be a warzone. No avoiding it. How we, individually, make out, will depend on our situation, luck and preparedness, but it will not be pretty. Historically, most people have lived in an active warzone for several years of their lifetime unless they happened to live in the US in the last 158 years. For people living in the rest of the world, they haven’t been so lucky. I think America’s luck has run out.

Anonymous · May 15, 2023 at 10:31 am

What will [about half of the country] do when you, having overthrown the current powers that be, announce that there is no money?

Who cares? They can’t actually do anything because they’re too old, or too unskilled and too broke. At most they can riot and burn down their densely built cities, all of which hurts only them.

Retirees expect several times more out of SS/Medicare than they put in; for fifty years they knew it was a Ponzi due to the baby boom, but didn’t vote to fix that. They are not innocent victims of fraud, now being sold an unnecessary roof repair in their golden years.

    neomunitor · May 15, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    Maybe they expect more, maybe not. The devaluation of the USD over time has been substantial. The dollars they put in were worth much more than the dollars they take out, and certainly nothing has seen as much inflation as medical costs.

Big Ruckus D · May 15, 2023 at 12:48 pm

Valid on pretty much all points and scenarios, as I see it. However, I’ll add another variable to the “what happens to all the people who don’t get the benefits/entitlement money they were expecting?”

Well, my response to that is many of them will end up dying. I’m not being flippant in saying that, mind you. Look all around you, we are a very unhealthy country. Fat bastards (I’m a good 30 lbs. overweight myself), those not obese but with poor dietary habits, raging (and functional) alcoholics, illicit drug addicts, legal (prescription) drug addicts, people with chronic health issues that are only made manageable or survivable by prescription drugs; the list of damaged people goes on and on.

In a collapse scenario, the drugs – particularly prescription pharmaceuticals – will not exist in adequate supply, if at all. This will leave people with untreated and unregulated conditions in a very bad place. Diabetics, for example, it will eventually kill outright for lack of being able to keep their condition in check. Those with chronic pain suddenly lacking a way to manage it, may well end up self delivering at the thought of suffering endlessly with no hope of relief.

Then there are the psych patients who can only function semi-normally with meds. Take those away and many become downright dangerous. Some portion of these – perhaps many – will be dealt with by the vigilantes you made mention of. Things will be bad enough without these dangerous and unpredictable head cases running around. They already exist amongst us now, and cause problems (NYC Subway, anyone?).

Once the wheels come off, there will be no patience to tolerate “problem people” amongst those who are in an existential battle for survival. And the fittest will prevail, as they will be the ones who take up the matter of culling the bad actors who are making a bad situation that much worse. At least that is what I’d expect to see happen. Reality on the ground won’t be quite that simple, but should generally play out that way.

It is not that I desire this chain of events, but rather that I see it as inevitable. Modern society has created complexities and dependencies, that upon reaching a stage where they cannot be maintained, will result in mass casualties. And there will be the general large scale fatalities from violence, starvation, and disease that occur in the fog of war anyway. In the end, irrespective of whatever comes out of the ashes, there will be an implicit understanding that all the promises of the USA meant sweet fuckall, and will not be delivered on. Won’t matter if anyone doesn’t like it, that’s just going to be the reality of where the survivors find themselves. As has been said so many times, “fair ain’t got nothing to do with it.”

Roy · May 15, 2023 at 5:58 pm

My only quibble with the scenario you describe is the tendency to blame it all on “the boomers”. Yeah. okay. I’ll just point out two things about that. First, the generally accepted definition of “boomer” is anyone born during the 20 years between the end of WWII and 1964. With that in mind, almost all of the policies that are driving us under were put in place by the previous two generations – The so called “greatest” generation and the so called “silents” (who were anything but silent.)
Second, “generations” don’t do anything. Individuals do. Most of, no, amend that – ALL of the boomers I know, saved or have been saving for their retirement outside of Social Security. I certainly have. Social Security is just icing on the cake. (However, the loss of SS would definitely hurt the budget.) I am currently retired and collecting SS. I know it won’t last, but what would you have me do? Give it back?!?

I will add one more thing about the collapse scenario you describe. If you study history and dig deep into the details of past collapses, whatever the cause, you find that when things get bad enough, the people eventually demand a “Caesar” to come and save the day. And Caesar always shows up. His name might be Octavian, his name might be Bonaparte, or his name might be Adolf, but he *always* shows up.

    Divemedic · May 15, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    So let’s talk about that. If the govt announced at any time in the past 30 years that they were going to cut social security, who would have been the first and loudest group to complain?
    As far as the dictator, that is where scenario 1, above comes from.

Roy · May 15, 2023 at 6:05 pm

PS: I’m glad you’re back. I was really worried that something had frustrated you so much that you were going to close your blog. For me, that would have been a loss. You are one of my daily go-to sites.

NA · May 15, 2023 at 6:32 pm

I generally agree with you, but there is a lot of collapse in an empire. Timing is hard to guess. This empire could outlive all of us, even in crumbling form. For instance:

– The U.S. has a better debt-to-GDP ratio than Japan, Italy, and Singapore. So there is more room for D.C. to run up the national credit card.

– There’s lots of talk about de-dollarizing but foreign holdings of U.S. treasuries are about the same today as 1.5 years ago ($7.65T vs. $7.40T), which is a difference of <5%.

– Money supply has been –declining– for the last year, which is the first time since 1930 with negative YOY growth. This does not sound like hyperinflation.

– Interest rates are much higher than a year or two ago but housing market is remarkably robust (because of unwillingness to sell). This is not evidence of a housing crash.

Look at the Glorious British Empire less than a century ago. It lost its crown jewel of India. Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe broke free. It was drained by two world wars and rival powers supplanted it. Internal decay, the Commonwealth crumbled. The 20th century was not kind to it at at all.

From that description it sounds like it would be a horrible place today, but as long as you're not in a diversity-enriched area, enjoy being disarmed, and have enough money the UK is perfectly livable today. It's just not an empire anymore.

The same thing could happen here.

Fido · May 15, 2023 at 7:08 pm

The money will never run out, they print it from thin air. It just loses any purchasing power, which is the same thing as far as gov is concerned…. but it’s *not* the same thing for savings. If they quit paying welfare or even SS, or otherwise “spend within their means”, then you at least keep your savings…. no such luck. It’s all TP.

I used to think seceding could work. I don’t anymore: We couldn’t abide Russian influence in Cuba. If Calif broke off, how long before they host Chinese military bases?

Hightecrebel · May 15, 2023 at 8:54 pm

It’s all going to end. I’m hopeful it will be a slow crumble like the British, or a short crash before climbing somewhat back up like Russia, as opposed to a complete collapse like the Balkans or the various African colonies post independence.

I’m sure the government benefits will go away before long, or at least become so diluted by inflation to be useless. This means social security, federal pensions, military retirement, and yes, even the veteran disability compensation. I’ll use it while I have it to try to put away things for the future, but I’m certainly not going to count on it over the long term.

Aesop · May 16, 2023 at 8:37 am

Good call-out. Mad props.
Rest assured I’ll attend to a full and fair response in due time, after taking care of some necessary errands.
I hope you’re prepared for it.

    Divemedic · May 16, 2023 at 8:53 am

    I would expect nothing less from you. 🙂

Steady Steve · May 16, 2023 at 2:19 pm

On the bright side. Garrett Wade Tool sells some excellent all steel shovels. Might come in handy one day.

lynn · May 16, 2023 at 5:13 pm

> We haven’t built a refinery in 40 years. So? Are you going to use guns and force people to build some? Vote for one?

We have built new refineries in Texas (Port Arthur) and in North Dakota in the last ten years. Unfortunately, we closed a dozen refineries in that time frame (Hawaii, California, Philadelphia, etc).

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