The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Publications Filter?
AKarlin.com Da Russophile
Nothing found
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
/
Obesity

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

The newly released paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton showing that mortality rates amongst middle-aged White American males (MAWAM) increased from 1999-2013 has been generating a lot of discussion of late. This mortality increase was concentrated amongst MAWAMs with a high school degree or less (“Fishtown,” to borrow from Charles Murray’s archetype of a White working class town), who now have a mortality rate even greater than that of US Blacks with their much-discussed health and violent crime problems. But mortality continued falling amongst the better educated Whites (“Belmont,” Murray’s archetypical White American upper middle class suburb).

This mortality increase was apparently driven by a surge in deaths from external causes, especially poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver cirrhosis. Even MAWAMs with a BS degree or higher saw a tiny increase in deaths from external causes, to the extent that MAWAMs are now more likely to die from external causes in their middle age than Latinos, or even Blacks.

us-mortality-1999-2013

It is worth pointing out that it seems to be a very unusual pattern relative not just to other ethnic groups in the US but to other developed European and Anglo countries. The graph below shows all-cause mortality for 45-54 year old MAWAMs relative to their peers in France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Sweden. Americans went from being middle of the pack to an outlier.

us-mortality-compared-1999-2013

As someone familiar with Russian demographic history, this was a depressingly familiar pattern to me.

Russian demographic history 101: By the mid-1960s, Russian life expectancy – both male and female – had basically converged with that of the First World.

Then it essentially stagnated… for half a century.

russian-male-life-expectancy

Remarkably, a Russian 50 year old man in 1964 had a smaller chance of dying (1,129/100,000 annually) than his grandson in 2010 (1,655/100,000) – regardless of all the medical advances in the intervening half century.

This mortality tsunami was driven by a huge rise in alcoholism from the 1960s, coupled with the Soviet Union’s lack of interest in creating a modern hi-tech medical system (as the West started to do in earnest from the 1970s). Although there was a modest interruption to these negative trends in the mid-to-late 1980s, when there was a modest improvement thanks to Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign, the decline resumed with a vengeance in the 1990s as the Soviet state lost its monopoly on vodka production and vodka prices plummeted. In the 2000s things started looking up again, as the Putin government raised excise taxes on vodka, invested in modern medical care, and changing social mores and the labor discipline promoted by capitalist economics started making binge drinking less cool. Even so, as of 2015, the health profiles of Russian men – though far improved relative to the days of the late Brezhnev, to say nothing of Yeltsin – have yet to exceed their mid-1960s peaks.

Although there were some “bad trends” in terms of healthy lifestyle in the West as well from the 197os – it was from this period onwards that the US got started on its obesity epidemic – these were much less detrimental to overall health than the hardcore vodka binge drinking that became prevalent in Soviet life by the 1970s, and their negative effects were in any case more than fully counteracted by vast improvements in emergency response and cardiac medical care.

The great stagnation in MAWAM mortality in the 1990s and 2000s revealed by Case and Deaton – down to the social differentiation, with the situation improving slightly in well-educated, upper class Belmont, but positively plummeting in poorly-educated, lower class Fishtown and more than cancelling out improvements in Belmont so far as MAWAMs as a whole are considered – seems to have a striking parallel with what happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Although the post-Soviet mortality crisis was felt across all social groups, it impacted middle-aged Russian men (MARMs) especially hard. Mortality for the best educated segments of the population, while rising initially in the early 1990s, quickly reversed and soon fell below Soviet-era levels. In contrast, the lower class Russians – the “gopnik” class of popular culture – have far poorer health today (despite the Putin era recovery) than even in the most vodka-drenched days of the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. Here is a 2005 article from the American Journal of Public Health:

The mortality advantage of better-educated men and women in 1980 increased substantially by 2001. In 1980, life expectancy at age 20 for university-educated men was 3 years greater than for men with elementary education only, but was 11 years greater by 2001, reflecting not only declining life expectancy in less-educated men but also an improvement among better-educated men. Similar patterns were seen in women.

Looking at causes of mortality, mortality increases were driven above all by the rise in deaths from poisonings – almost exclusively alcohol deaths, in Russia’s case – and associated factors, such as deaths from external causes (these are linked: When you imbibe vodka in regular binges, you will be more likely to commit suicide, have car accidents, murder your drinking partners in a fit of drunken homicidal rage, etc). Moreover, increases in alcohol death were also reflected in and magnified to a large extent by deaths from cardiovascular diseases – chronic bingeing, needless to say, has bad effects on your overall health – which was further compounded by Russia’s traditional lack of modern medical facilities to treat expensive modern ailments. That is because neither the USSR nor Yeltsinite Russia cared much for the health and welfare of ordinary Russians: So far as the Soviets were concerned, the main thing was to get people through military and reproductive age in more or less adequate shape, and not bother themselves overmuch with what happened to them from their 50s; while the oligarchs who ruled Russia from behind the scenes in the 1990s didn’t care even about that.

To be sure, there are also major differences between the American and Russian experiences. For instance, in Russia, the 1990s and 2000s saw a big dip, and then a big recovery back to late Gorbachev levels of MARM mortality, whereas the mortality rates of MAWAMs simply stagnated at a more or less steady level throughout from 1990 to 2013.

And critically, 1980s Soviet mortality levels themselves began from a much higher base relative to the US. While according to Case and Deaton’s graph MAWAM annual mortality levels for the 45-54 age group were 415/100,000 in 2013, rising to 736/100,000 for poorly educated MAWAMs, that is still far less than the 1,655/100,000 mortality rate for 50 year old MARMs in 2010 (or even in 2014 when it is now perhaps 1,300/100,000).

Nonetheless, regardless of the fact that the US mortality crisis is far less severe in absolute terms, and didn’t undergo the catastrophic “spike” that post-Soviet Russia experienced, the similarities – a major demographic group experiencing a sustained deterioration in its mortality prospects over a period of decades in an industrialized country – are otherwise quite remarkable.

Steve Sailer suggests that the cause of this might be in the stress inflicted on poorer MAWAM workers by mass immigration and other woeful trends:

Perhaps painkiller overdoses, mental health declines, reported pain, disability, dropping out of the labor force, lower wages, and The Big Unmentionable (immigration) all tie together. As Hispanics flooded in, lowering wages, blue collar whites felt less motivated to stay in the labor force as they aged and their bodies got creakier. Getting on disability requires, I imagine, an ability to get doctors and other authority figures to believe your account of musculoskeletal and/or mental health disabilities. The most effective way to get other people to believe you are disabled by physical and mental pain is to believe it yourself. And if you tell the doctor your back is killing you so much you can’t work and you persuade him, he’ll likely write you a prescription for some pills.

Or perhaps it was the 1960s Big Party generation finally burning itself out:

I think there is definitely a pattern in that coming of age in the Late 1960s / 1970s seem to have taken a toll on people, leaving them more vulnerable to dying of overdoses, suicide, and alcoholism later in life.

It’s kind of like how homeless people and AIDS sufferers started showing up in the 1980s. There are all sorts of explanations for these separate effects, some valid, some tendentious, but a common theme that’s almost totally overlooked today is that the 1970s were a Big Party and that took its toll on some people.

Then there is my 2013 post on health inequalities in the US, in which I noticed that unlike Blacks, Asians, and Latinos – whose counterparts abroad have universally lower life expectancies – US Whites are near the bottom of the life expectancy league tables of other majority White countries.

In contrast, US White life expectancy is equivalent to that in not fully developed Chile, and Denmark, the shortest-lived West European country.

us-life-expectancy-by-race

This is pretty strange for a country supposedly dominated by “structural racism” and discrimination against its minorities (as many European and American Leftists allege).

Some speculations as to the cause of this pattern were advanced by myself and other people in the comments. One by the commentator Thorfinsson was particularly intriguing:

Extreme Hispanic apathy probably results in good mental health and thus longer lifespans. In America our abundance allows them to achieve the rusty pickup trucks, crappy houses with cars parked on the lawn, Tecate beer (‘scuse me that’s CERVEZA), and 24/7 access to their desired entertainment of telenovelas and pro-wrestling.

As for Asian-Americans being longer lived than their coethnics across the Pacific, I suspect America’s more laid back culture makes for better mental health than the cram and shame obsessed cultures back home.

White Americans on the other hand not only have less healthy lifestyles than their cousins across the pond, but are constantly bombarded with propaganda about how evil they and their ancestors are. Unlike less introspective and curious peoples, they are also given to introspection and moral neurosis. Not a good recipe for good mental or physical health.

But I doubt the explanation is as simple as any of those.

Note that the mortality prospects of middle-aged men in the developed European countries, not to mention Canada and Australia, have continued to improve throughout the 1990s and 2000s, even though many of them too have had a lot of Third World immigrants. That train left the station in the 1960s, not the 2010s, today’s angry rhetoric regardless.

And Yuropeans have been partying at least as hard as Americans since the 1970s. In fact, as someone who has lived in both the UK and the US, I can attest that the prevalence of binge drinking is FAR higher in Britain. Even so, it does not impose a heavy mortality burden even there. That is because British binge drinking mostly occurs amongst robust 16-25 year olds youngsters and only lasts for an evening. The sort of reckless binge drinking that afflicted Russia – and in earlier times, Finland - carried on throughout life and not infrequently degenerated into alcohol layovers lasting several days. Moreover, the “party hard” and recreational drugs culture in both Britain and the US is more of a Belmont thing, while the denizens of Fishtown have to work hard to put food on their family, and in jobs where they are much more likely to be tested for drugs besides.

As for Thorfinsson’s hypothesis, it is entertaining but not very serious. It is intellectual White liberals who read Howard Zinna and agonize over white guilt and have a growing cuckoldry fetish. They are also precisely those MAWAMs whose mortality rates have continued falling.

Otherwise, explanations from the “Left,” like increasing inequality .are not particularly persuasive either. Why didn’t it affect Blacks and Hispanics, who mortality rates continued falling? And besides, virtually the entire world got a great deal more unequal after 1990. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Western Europe and other Anglo offshots from continuing to improve middle-aged male mortality rates.

Some suggest a connection between neoliberal reform and rising mortality. Contrary to that, after a brief mortality shock in the early 1990s, even decommunizing countries with their own “shock therapies” like Poland started to rapidly increase their life expectancy. This suggests that the primary cause of Russia’s mortality crisis in the 1990s and early to mid 2000s was not so much the much-hated “shock therapy,” as suggested in a famous 2009 Lancet article, but the specific fact of the collapse of the state’s authority, which expressed itself in the loss of control over the hard liquor monopoly, as well as the inability to check the proliferation of underground moonshine operations to serve the alcohol needs of the most far gone Russian alcoholics. At the end of the day, the simple fact was that hard booze got a lot cheaper, and there were many Russians who were willing to take advantage of it. Since vodka is so dominant as a driver of Russian mortality, to the extent that neoliberal reform was responsible for the 1990s Russian mortality crisis, it was because it made cheap hard alcohol more accessible to many Russians.

To wrap this up – while I don’t have any particularly good explanations for the great stagnation in MAWAM mortality prospects, I will suggest the following scenario:

As Case and Deaton state, from the mid-1990s, the US pharma industry has pushed all sorts of painkiller prescriptions including opioids onto the American population. Americans enthusiastically gobbled them up to deal with the bodily pains and discomforts caused by the contemporaneous advance of the obesity epidemic.

The increase in midlife morbidity and mortality among US white non-Hispanics is only partly understood. The increased availability of opioid prescriptions for pain that began in the late 1990s has been widely noted, as has the associated mortality (14, 20‒22). The CDC estimates that for each prescription painkiller death in 2008, there were 10 treatment admissions for abuse, 32 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse, 130 people who were abusers or dependent, and 825 nonmedical users (23). Tighter controls on opioid prescription brought some substitution into heroin and, in this period, the US saw falling prices and rising quality of heroin, as well as availability in areas where heroin had been previously largely unknown (14, 24, 25).

While rising obesity and the growing reach of the pharma industry has been prevalent throughout the First World in the past two decades, nowhere have both of these trends gone as far as in the United States. Possibly it is their combination that has magnified the effects of each to create a much bigger overall effect on the segment of the population most vulnerable to them?

So why, then, did this trend not affect Blacks and Hispanics? After all, their obesity crises are even bigger than those of White Americans. They are also far poorer than Whites. However, possibly their innately much more positive outlooks – Latinos clearly have a higher joie de vivre, while even the poorest Blacks have higher levels of self esteem than the richest Whites – might have translated into a tendency to use fewer pain meds, and perhaps greater defenses against getting seriously hooked on them or gatewaying into stuff like heroin and deciding to end their lives, as far more neurotic Whites are wont to do. In other words, Africanist rhetoric about the psychological dispositions of Sun People vs. Ice People does have some validity to it.

East Asians are relatively neurotic too. But they are also the one racial group in the US that is not having a major obesity crisis, plus their high average IQ ensures few of them live in depressed Fishtown anyway. Their mortality profile has therefore also continued to improve unimpeded.

In effect, maybe MAWAMs have won a sort of genetic anti-lottery: Intelligent enough to be deeply neurotic and prone to suicide, but not intelligent enough to almost entirely avoid Fishtown like Asian-Americans; and wealthy and privileged enough to have bottle of Vicodin as a retirement plan, but not wealthy or genetically endowed enough to avoid obesity on a large scale, which in turn further feeds into the pain meds and neuroticism spiral.

Last but not least, they live in a country where untramelled market forces and technological preeminence have resulted in the complete commercialization of agriculture and healthcare, paradoxically resulting in suboptimal outcomes like the spread of cheap empty carb diets that have led to mass obesity, and the usage of addictive and harmful pharma products to treat those very symptoms.

I am not sure this is anywhere near the correct explanation but I have yet to hear of anything more convincing.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out at least in passing that it is precisely these Fishtown MAWAMs who constitute the core of Donald Trump’s support base. The ordinary, lower class Russians hit hardest by the 1990s mortality shock – for instance, the Uralvagonzavod workers, so despised by Western liberal journalists – are likewise the class showing the biggest support for Putin. As such, this is just the latest if rather small commonality on which there is a kind of Trump-Putin convergence.

 
🔊 Listen RSS

The WHO has recently released a list of countries by their average BMI and it makes for interesting reading. Obviously of relevance to younger world travelers, “love tourists”, and mini-retirees. It confirms many stereotypes, but also throws up a couple of surprises. It is reprinted below the text for some of the bigger and more visited countries in order of the female BMI (because it’s more socially consequential than male BMI). But first, some general observations.

(1) The thinnest countries are Third World places like Bangladesh and Vietnam where it’s probably more due to malnutrition than anything else. Unless you’re into stick-like peasants in paddy hats, you should probably pass up.

(2) Japan is the best Asian First World country, and France is the best European First World country.

(3) No wonder Roosh is enjoying Romania so much.

(4) The observations about the Dutch and the Scandinavians (okay), and the Brits and the Americans (very fat) tally with my own impressions. And stereotypes. And the influence of gender feminism.

(5) Argentina WTF? Didn’t expect it to be so low.

(6) Also North Korea WTF? One might have expected it to be on the level of Bangladesh or something, if the photos of everybody there who is not called “Kim” are anything to go by. Maybe they only measured North Korean refugees in the South? Or maybe the malnutrition situation there isn’t as acute as we are led to believe?

(7) A consistent pattern is that the women in Muslim societies are consistently a lot heavier than their menfolk. This is what happens, I guess, when societal norms confine most of them to the house all day. It is also a great demonstration of why equity feminism (as opposed to gender feminism) is a really good idea – contrary to some retards in the manosphere who want to counter Gender Studies with jihad.

(8) Russia, virtually identical to Germany and Finland, doesn’t do perhaps as well as the stereotypes of leggy, high-cheeked blondes might indicate. They are forgetting another, older stereotype: That of the babushka.

(9) All the East Asian nations have managed to avoid widespread obesity (although South Korea appears to be a close case). What explains it? The cuisine, the fitness culture, or HBD? One possible explanation I’ve heard (I think on Peter Frost’s blog) is that East Asians have had millennia to adapt to eating rice – hence why they don’t get fat on carbohydrate heavy diets, in stark contrast to their genetic relatives the Native Americans. On the other hand, agriculture did nonetheless first appear in the Fertile Crescent, aka the Middle East, so logically the natives there should be just as adapted to eating bread without ill physiological effects. But they don’t, to the contrary even poor countries there like Egypt, Syria, and Iran are quite corpulent.

(10) One final, general note: A high obesity rate in a place like Mexico or Kuwait is far worse than an equivalent rate in a country like Germany or the US. Why? Because your average German or American is much older than your average Mexican or Kuwaiti, and obesity rates tend to rise with age. In other words, as its population continues to age, I will not be surprised to see places like Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey begin to greatly exceed even the United States (the fattest major First World country) in the size of their girths.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

I had great fun observing the fallout over Depardieu’s “defection” to Russia. The reason for the apostrophes is of course because it had nothing to do with it. It was Depardieu trolling Hollande and the French “Socialists”, and Putin trolling Westerners and his own homegrown “democratic journalists.” (Or maybe not? In any case, I for one have a difficult time comprehending why anyone would care so much.) This trolling was both entertaining and successful, because it elicited so, so much beautiful rage and loathing from all our favorite quarters.

The Western press

Predictable enough, coverage of this on the right-wing sites like the Wall Street Journal was schizophrenic. After all the writers and readers have to decide on who they hate more: Socialist France or Putin’s Russia? Of course the faux-left/neoliberal press like Le Monde and The Guardian had no such problems. They went stark raving apoplectic:

Gérard Depardieu isn’t enough to change Russia’s image by our good friend Andrew Ryvkin: “The actor may be taking Russian citizenship, but convincing citizens life is better than in the west is a difficult PR exercise” – I hardly think that was ever the point.

Gérard Depardieu joins very small club of adoptive Russian citizens, by Howard Amos: “Few foreigners seek Russian citizenship and even fewer are granted it, with the tide generally going in the opposite direction.” Ah, the (completely discredited) Sixth Wave of Emigration trope. What makes this especially funny is that 300k-400k Brits leave Britain every year, whereas the equivalent figure for Russia (with more than 2x the population) is slightly above 100,000 this year.

But best of all was the Guardian’s caption competition to the above photo. Here are some of the Guardian picks:

Après moi le beluga…?

Gerard announces the closure of several Parisian Boulangeries.

The hilarity of this is that the Guardian is a major mouthpiece for “fat acceptance”; indeed, it is not atypical for its contributors to write inanities like this: “While obese is a medical term, fat is the language of the bully. It’s not a word doctors should use.”

While I certainly have no problem with making fun of fat apologists and their enablers, but what’s hilarious is that the Guardian CiF is notoriously censorious and would have surely deleted those comments had they been directed at anyone the Guardian likes for violating its “community standards.”

Western democratic journalists

Unfortunately even many otherwise reasonable people were ridiculously outraged.

https://twitter.com/theivanovreport/status/286916844370161665

https://twitter.com/theivanovreport/status/287202688507195393

Mark Adomanis started out well:

https://twitter.com/MarkAdomanis/status/286972111665377280

But then he too went weird.

As the details of his newly minted Russian citizenship Depardieu has (justifiably!) been roundly condemned by right, left, center, and everywhere in between.

https://twitter.com/MarkAdomanis/status/288338539287044096

Quite a change from this in 2010, no?: “All of the US-run freedom indices aren’t merely slanted (that’s to be expected) but usually also have some truly weird crap thrown in the mix.” ;)

Russian liberals

Via politrash, who noted that writing this much have torn the democratic journalist in question (Gleb Razdolnov) to pieces: Please Answer, Depardieu!… (Open Letter)

A must-read for anyone interested in Russian liberal psychology. Go to your Google Translate.

And Depardieu knows all the correct things to say to troll and wind them up even further.

In a class of its own: Julia Ioffe

Gerard Depardieu’s Russian Citizenship Is a Passport to a Westerner’s Playground for TNR.

Days earlier, Putin, by presidential fiat, had extended Russian citizenship to Depardieu, who recently declared that he would abandon his native France, allegedly because of high taxes: Russia’s flat 13 percent tax rate looked a lot better than Francois Hollande’s now defunct proposal to raise taxes to 75 percent for those making over 1 million euros.

Minor point, perhaps, but NOT defunct.

The inaugural trip to Mordovia, observers noted, was a strange choice given what the republic is generally known for: penal colonies. The Mordovian economy subsists almost entirely on these alone; roads are merely strings connecting the colonies, some of which date back to Stalin. Most visitors to Mordovia are likely to see not yodeling singers in colorful frocks, but a depressed region where the free population seems split into two camps: the prison guards, and the day drinkers.

I have no doubt that Depardieu didn’t see and will not see this side of Mordovia, nor will he have met with the region’s most famous inmate, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of the band Pussy Riot.

The state of Oklahoma, generally known for the Trail of Tears. Southern Poland, generally known for Auschwitz. Nanking, generally known for its rape. Any others you can think of?

Nor will Depardieu see Russia as it exists for 99.9 percent of his now fellow countrymen. As Putin’s pet, he will be shielded from the collapsing infrastructure and a ramshackle poverty inexplicable for a country that pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia. He will never have to go to a poorly trained, overworked, and underpaid Russian doctor who would likely misdiagnose him anyway. He will never get caught in the teeth of the corrupt justice system; he won’t be extorted for bribes, whether or not he runs afoul of the law.

So specifically Russian. But the best is yet to come:

Of course, this can be said of any wealthy Russian, or any celebrity anywhere in the world. The difference here is the orientalism of such Western men—and they are always, always men—who decamp to Russia and praise the place for its freedom and simplicity. The women, they say, are more beautiful and better (read: more sparsely) dressed, more deferential to men (especially men with money), and always aim to please, sexually.

Because ugly, badly dressed, rude, frigid, and – incidentally – worse paid relative to men is a far superior lifestyle?

Without examining why Russian women might be like this, Western expats use these qualities as evidence for a quietly long-held view that feminism is the crude weapon of the ugly Western woman.

Well…

The whirl-a-gig unpredictability of the place rarely stops being fun because it’s never entirely real. In these men’s eyes, it is not lawlessness; it is freedom from annoying rules.

In my years living in Moscow, I have come across many such Western men. In Moscow, their wealth gives them the kind of reality-bending leverage that it couldn’t in New York, London, or Paris. In Moscow, their wealth—and, in Depardieu’s case, fame—made them brilliant and sexually attractive, especially to the leggy, barely legal girls from the provinces; in those Western cities, their money merely made them rich.

Okay, I think she’s basically confirmed my theory from an older post:

One thing that really stands out is that it is female Jews who dislike Russia more than anything, at least among Western journalists. As this post has already pushed well beyond all respectable limits of political correctness, I might as well go the full nine yards and outline my theory of why that is the case. In my view, the reasons are ultimately psycho-sexual. Male Jews nowadays have it good in Russia, with many Slavic girls attracted to their wealth, intelligence and impeccable charm (if not their looks). But the position of Jewesses is the inverse. They find it hard to compete with those same Slavic chicks who tend to be both hotter and much more feminine than them; nor, like Jewish guys, can they compensate with intelligence, since it is considered far less important for women. This state of affairs leads to sexual frustration and permanent singledom (pump and dump affairs don’t count of course), which in turn gives rise to the angry radical feminism and lesbianism that oozes out of this piece by Anna Nemtsova bemoaning Russia’s “useless bachelors”. Such attitudes further increase male aversion to them, thus reinforcing their vicious cycle of singledom. And the resulting frustration indelibly seeps into their work…

Basically in Russia, Ioffe is surrounded by massively superior competition to what she’d find in her hometown, massively diminishing her relative attractiveness and male attention/commitment. This is understandably hard on the ego. In that respect, Washington DC is the polar opposite of what she’d have found in Russia.

So, no wonder that Ioffe has been so angry during her time in Russia and bugged out of the place much sooner rather than later. Why else would she spend so much column space ruing the far superior sexual choice available to expats in Russia?

I mean there’s nothing wrong with her disliking Russia for that, it’s a perfectly understandable and natural reaction. People are drawn to places where they enjoy more attention, respect, and sexual market value. That is why it is “always” male expats that enjoy the place as she points out. Whereas an American female journalist might hook up with some Latino lothario in Brazil, in Moscow she’d have to settle for beetroot-stained runts in vests and tracksuit pants.

But at least the foreign expats she is so so evidently butthurt about are, by her own admission, honest about their motivations. They want to keep 75%-13%=62% of their money, not have their cars periodically torched by “youths”, and have the freedom to look over a girl without going to jail for it.

Update: Ioffe’s reply to this post

Ouch this must have struck a nerve with her!

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

The commentator fcomp writes:

If you think about it, there is a strong rationale self interest between feminism and the increase of female obesity. If feminism is to be defined as increasing the societal power of women, then it would serve them well for their to be more obese women. The desirability of a women to a man is far more objective then subjective. If women were to be, across the board, more attractive, if all women became, at minimum, 6s, men who ended up marrying 6s, the men who would be the lowest in male desirability in such a society, wouldn’t nearly be as unhappy as men who end up marrying 1s in our society. The logical result of that, is that in such a beautiful society, ironically, the value of female beauty would become far less valuable, and beauty would be far less desired.

That is exactly right. You see this in EE. Beauty is so common that it’s much less valued than in America. Basic market forces at work. Feminists go on about the importance of “inner beauty”, but ironically, the social trends that are in their own interests to encourage achieve the exact opposite – preoccupation with physical beauty (because it is rare).

If there isn’t a chance that one might end up with a landwhale, I suspect that most men would hardly bother with stuff like game and the like.

Of course. There are millions of things more valuable than game. It’s like gambling, or financial speculation: Good for those who are good at it, socially worthless.

I would imagine that such a society would experience little sexual discrimination, but at the same time, be very anti-female, in the sense that women who are competitive with men in economically productive fields would be quite successful, but at the same time, “feminine virtues”, a females capacity attracting men, the only area in which women surpass men, would be far less valued.

Yes, ironically, there is little sexual discrimination in such societies. Female salaries as a percentage of male salaries are higher in Russia than in the US or the UK. There are far more self-made female billionaires in China than in the Anglo world. It is true that the women there can’t “attract men” as well as in societies without gender feminism, but why on earth would you want them to? There is a name for women who are really good at this: Sluts.

There is a upper cap on female attractiveness, which are the feminine ideals hardwired into us by evolution, but there is no downward cap. This is in direct contrast to male attractiveness, because male attractiveness is strongly based with ability, and strong relativistic. ie: A man can always become more powerful, more wealthy, more physically capable. In this fashion, feminism is intrinsically a downward trend because the only thing a beautiful women can do to that makes herself more desired in a society, is to reduce the amount of beauty in that society.

This is why your typical Third Wave feminist or rape activist is fat, has a manjaw, or is otherwise unattractive.

If you are ugly, devaluing beauty is not bad evolutionary strategy.

The prevalence of female obesity in the middle east can also be explained in this fashion. If increasing the amount of non-obese women in a society is a form of sexual egalitarianism, because it increases the amount of sexual contentment across the board, then what society is less sexually egalitarian then Islam?

I have been meaning to write about the links between radical Islam and gender feminism for quite some time. Suffice to say for now that, contrary to what one may think, they make for excellent bedfellows.

Of course, none of this is to say that female obesity is a feminist conspiracy, that would be quite absurd. Like you said, dystopian societal trends.

Indeed.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

And no, I ain’t talking of that von Neumann crap. :)

Game theory as developed by Heartiste and Co (1, 2, 3, 4). Before we start, there are two concepts we must avail ourselves of:


Female hypergamy
: Woman’s tendency to mate up the social hierarchy.

Soft polygamy: See picture right, as helpfully illustrated by yours truly.

Back in the “good old days”, i.e. say the 1950′s, life was much simpler. Female labor participation was low, their salaries were low, the Pill had yet to be invented, marriage was a respected institution, divorce and single motherhood were very much frowned upon, and female obesity was very low. There was one guy for every eligible girl and dating was a a sweet and simple affair.

Fast forward to today. Female salaries and labor participation have practically equalized with those of men, thus diluting men’s relative economic power. The Pill and the end of belief in the sanctity of marriage (divorce and single motherhood have soared since the 1960′s) have unleashed the floodgates of female hypergamy; across femdom, chicks are looking to mate up, leaving their now powerless beta providers by the wayside. On the other end of the scale, female obesity – fueled by aesthetic WMD’s in the form of McDonald’s, KFC, and corn subsidies – has ballooned, to the extent that it now afflicts almost half the female population. Nothing destroys a woman’s looks and attractiveness to men quite like obesity. This alone halves the eligible pool of fuckable women.

But then on the other end of the scale (no pun intended) you have the appearance of soft polygamy. This is a natural consequence of the disappearance of those social mores and taboos that in prior decades held female hypergamy in check. With that loosened, alpha males – both natural alphas (e.g. Tom Cruise, Silvio Berlusconi), and betas who learn game (e.g. Neil Strauss, Roosh) – develop harems, ushering in soft polygamy. Women are biologically wired such that they would rather share an alpha with many other women and compete for his attentions rather than tolerate monogamy with a beta. Case in point.

Alphas now have it better than they ever; the world is their oyster as never before with the sole exceptions, perhaps, in the twilight periods of decadent civilizations, or the aftermaths of great wars that rewarded men’s spilled blood with beautiful postwar ratios. Pinned down between the Scylla of female obesity and the Charybdis of soft polygamy, betas face a hellscape of shuffling shoggoths, indentured orbitude to the few remaining classy women, and nightly love-making to the lonely hand.

This no doubt goes someway to explaining the increasing physical manifestations of involuntary male celibacy: Aggressive, in-your-face homosexuality; asexuality; men marrying their cats; men marrying their sex dolls; genital cutting all the way down to penile bisection (if you Google this, I’m not liable for your psychotherapy costs); men cutting off and cooking their own penises; etc. The latter phenomena are indeed the most potent (inverse pun) symbols of male emasculation at the dawn of the new millennium.

Unlike many in the “manosphere”, I don’t bother attaching moral labels to these developments. It’s a waste of time. Besides morality is beta anyway. There are two immediately relevant things to take away from this “game” interpretation of recent American social history:

(1) The importance of learning game for any aspiring lifestyle artist if he is not already a natural; or at the very least, migrating someplace where feminism and female obesity has yet to make major inroads, like Russia, Poland, or Argentina.

(2) For all the possible holes in “game theory” (and I think I can identify a few), it’s still far superior an explanation of the trajectory of American society than anything, absolutely ANYTHING, you will find in your sociology textbooks. The only contender, and it’s more complement than competition, is Murray’s and Herrnstein’s work on cognitive stratification and the IQ bell curve – for which they’ve been made academic pariahs. That is because modern academe embraces cultural Marxism and loathes reality.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Case in point: This article (“Caught in the cycle of poverty”, Anna Gorman) from the LAT, which is a microcosm of everything that is wrong in US demographic and social policy. It is a story about the “challenges” facing a poverty-stricken African American woman clearly intended to evoke sympathy for her. That didn’t go over well in the readers’ comments section even though the LAT is basically the West Coast equivalent of the liberal/lefty NYT.

Indeed, at first glance, it is difficult to find sympathy for her. Our heroine, Natalie Cole, is a high school dropout who’d popped out two kids by the age of 17 (!). She then popped out another two with her Latino boyfriend. She was asked to write a resume for her job application but never did so. She does not take her medications or turn up for appointed check-ups despite already by the age of 27 being “heavyset” (read: Obese) and suffering from a variety of health ailments. She shoplifts. According to the author, “She wants to provide a better life for her children but seems not to know how.”

On the other hand however we have to bear in mind that LAT readers are fairly intelligent, whereas there is cause to doubt Ms. Cole is even functionally literate. She has most of the correlates of a dull person: Single motherhood; inability to follow simple instructions; obesity; etc. Despite wanting to, she seems unable to get a GED certificate. From the portrait given by the LAT it is hard to imagine her having an IQ of more than 75. No amount of further education or counseling can bestow her with the tools to escape idiot’s limbo. As such, it is obviously unfair to judge Ms. Cole so harshly for her welfare dependency.

Nonetheless, it is also easy to understand the frustration of LAT commentators, many of whom as taxpayers indirectly fund Ms. Cole and her fecund lifestyle. A lifestyle which social services bizarrely, inexplicably encourage. When Ms. Cole thought she had become pregnant with a fifth child (!), she seemed completely nonchalant about it even though she clearly cannot support her present four in decent conditions even after welfare payouts. In China she’d have long since been sterilized. In the US, her counselor told her, “Children are a blessing. You are just gonna have to be stable.” Idiocracy here were come.

Yet as I stressed above, angrily condemning Ms. Cole and others like her is both pointless and arguably even unethical. Why should she be subjected to such spleen just for doing so badly in life’s genetic lottery (born 1 S.D. below the Black IQ average)? From the LAT article, while she may be dull, she does not seem to be a bad person or an uncaring mother. On the other hand, it’s also unfair to ask of productive members of society to subsidize her reproductive successes.

What’s more not only is it unfair but it is also socially ruinous due to its pro-dysgenics nature, given that IQ is about 75% heritable. In this respect her children are the rule, not the exception: “But Peter, sullen and quiet, has already been kicked out of several schools for fighting and was arrested for shooting a BB gun at passing cars. And Destiny, outgoing and affectionate, has trouble keeping up with her classmates.”

(Dysgenics isn’t just an American problem but a problem of the Black community in particular. Most research on the matter seems to indicate that dysgenic trends are stronger among Blacks than Whites, first because low-IQ blacks tend to have more children relative to high-IQ blacks than low-IQ whites to high-IQ whites, second, because the average age of childbirth is lower among blacks so generational change accrues more quickly.)

That said, this isn’t of course a call to cut off all welfare and throw Ms. Cole and Co. onto the streets, as many Republicans would like to do. Nor is it necessary to adopt Chinese policies of coercive sterilization. Equitable solutions follow naturally from a honest appraisal of reality. Namely, Ms. Cole can be granted very generous welfare, for as long as she wishes – on condition that she get sterilized. Everyone should be eligible for this offer but of course it will almost invariably be the right people, like Ms. Cole, who will be taking advantage of it. Essentially, they can be bribed out of the gene pool. Otherwise, idiot’s limbo – or whatever euphemism it will go under – will encompass an ever greater share of the population until we arrive we really are living in a world of Idiocracy.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
🔊 Listen RSS

Apart from a few (typically loser) countries with national fat fetishes, men do not want to fuck fat girls. Or even see them. Most certainly, they do not want to feed the bizarre princess complexes typical of Anglo femdom.

Is it fair that obesity lowers a young woman’s social status far, far more than a man’s? Of course not. Proof:

A few further observations that can be made on this topic:

* Is it an accident that the two major countries – the US and Russia – with the highest divorce rates are where chicks are substantially fatter than dudes? It is after all hard to keep the attraction simmering through more and more layers of blubber. A typical scenario appears to be:

  1. Chick gets fat
  2. Dude loses sexual interest
  3. Chick initiates divorce (and payoff!)
  4. Becomes a columnist at Jezebel railing against the patriarchy.

* In fairness to Russian chicks, they at least wait until their 30′s to “bloom” into their full womanhood, while in Anglo world its pretty much constant inflation from birth.

* There are probably many other social issues that can at least partially be explained by this. Say, Black crime rates (which remain about twice higher than those of whites even after being adjusted for IQ). Surely part of this has something to do with quite understandable frustration stemming from 40% of all Black chicks being obese, i.e. twice the rate of whites. Meanwhile, surely the high rate of White-Asian intermarriage, and pop terms like “yellow fever“, has something to do with with US Asian chicks being the only part of American womanhood who can be relied upon to look after their bodies.

* There is a bizarre obsession with anorexia at the same time as the obesity crisis spirals out of control. Regardless of the fact that “anorexics” are infinitely more attractive than fatsos and have only become a rarity fairly recently in historical terms. However, since it actually takes discipline to maintain your body in that attractive form, the lazy fatsos who want a free lunch, who want to have their cake and eat it too (both literally and metaphorically), issue hysterical screeds against anorexia as part of their campaign against red-blooded men.

Sorry Katya but you are fat, and your “PLUS Size Plus” magazine is disgusting propaganda.

Note in particular the statistical skulduggery in the odious propaganda poster above. The argument that models now weigh 23% less than the average woman as opposed to 8% less in 1990, which is supposed to imply widespread anorexia in the fashion industry, assumes that said average woman has remained static in the intervening two decades. That is not of course the case. In 1990, there wasn’t a single US state with an obesity rate of greater than 15%; today, there is not a single one with an obesity rate of LESS than 20%. As such, it’s entirely possible that the average model today is actually heavier than she was 20 years ago as the average woman has developed a much larger “frame”. The problem is with the latter, not the former.

In conclusion, as I’ve rigorously demonstrated above, fat women are loathsome to look at (compare the two pictures) and cause many social problems. And contrary to the feminists, betaboys and sundry enablers who bastardize the English language to appease the Land Whale Lobby (“voluptuous”, “curvy”, “big boned”, “big framed”) and claim that “personality is what really matters”, normal dudes DO NOT prefer sass over fatass.

When fat women are forced to confront this fact they tend to retreat into some bizarre combination of denial, blame games, and self-aggrandizement via feminism and fat acceptance liberation movement. And they have a host of paid-up enablers rationalizing their delusions. What they really need is a good swat on the ass.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
With increasing signs of economic collapse, military overstretch and political problems, is the US doomed to go the way of the late USSR?
🔊 Listen RSS

Inspired in no small part by the political charade over the bail-outs and boondoggles that plague the TV screens and electronic ether, I’ve compiled a top 10 list of ways in which the US increasingly resembles the collapsing Soviet Union for your information / despair / entertainment / Schadenfreude / ridicule / etc.

A list of how Russians screwed up and Americans are repeating their mistakes step by step. A list that may provoke much needed debate and change that we can really believe in.

10

An alcohol epidemic from the 1960′s on that kept Russian life expectancy flat ever since.

Dietary catastrophe resulting in historically unprecedented obesity and diabetes rates.

9

Hated and feared for human rights violations, invasion of Afghanistan and Communist rhetoric, and its socialist model discredited.

Hated and feared for use of torture, invasion of Iraq and post-Cold War triumphalist arrogance, and its neoliberal model discredited.

8

Military overstretch, economic distortion and disaster in Afghanistan.

Imperial overstretch, runaway military budget and return to the “graveyard of empires”.

7

Wasteful investments into infrastructure, bloated bureaucracy and inefficient industry.

Decaying infrastructure, misplaced investments into suburbia, bloated financial system and hallowing out of industry.

6

Collapse in morality, bloated bureaucracy and soaring corruption.

Regulatory capture, bloated special interests and legalistic mafia.

5

Suppression of statistics and silencing of dissent.

Manipulation of statistics and ignores dissent.

4

Dependence on foreign credit from debts and oil sales.

Dependence on foreign credit from debts, “dark matter” and the $’s status as global currency reserve.

3

Young reformer takes power and talks of glasnost and perestroika while avoiding real reform.

Young “outsider” wins the elections and talk of change and hope…

2

Ethnic nationalism and separatist tendencies.

Tax revolts and state rights.

1

More and more people began to predict Soviet collapse in the late 1980′s.

More and more people are beginning to predict an American collapse now…


10) The first disturbing similarity is the rapidly deteriorating health of the population. From the 1960′s, an alcohol epidemic began to sweep Russia as binging graduated from something done on holidays to a monthly and then a weekly affair. The drinking epidemic spread to women and younger people, and intensified amongst middle-aged men. Once subjected to the cheap alcohol and social dislocations of the post-Soviet world, an already stagnating average life expectancy plummeted.

As late as 1990, not a single state in the Union had an obesity rate of greater than 15% of the adult population; today, not a single state (with the marginal exception of Colorado) has an obesity rate of less than 20%. The national obesity rate soared to 34%. The percentage of American adults suffering from diabetes is now 11%, and another 26% have impaired glucose tolerance. Although improvements in US life expectancy haven’t stalled, change has been slower than in most other developed countries and even then was mostly accounted for by improved medical technology, and successes in reducing tobacco smoking and overconsumption of animal fats. An economic collapse now would trim the vastly expensive healthcare system and almost certainly result in a mortality spike – especially considering that the baby boomers are now nearing retirement age.

Both the Russian and American epidemics affect poor, middle-aged people the most; a difference is that the alcohol epidemic affected men more than women, whereas in the US obesity is slightly more prevalent amongst women than men. Vodka sales made good profits for the state (via taxes) during the Soviet period and good profits for private distilleries in the post-Soviet period; the American diet makes good profits for fast food outlets and the parasitic “food processing” companies that degrade good corn into corn syrup. Perhaps the most poignant comparison is in the kinds of TV adverts that dominate the airwaves in both countries. In Russia after 9pm, every third commercial suddenly becomes about some or another kind of beer (that’s an improvement over the 1990′s, when they ran all day); in the US, day or night, every third commercial praises the virtues of some kind of meretricious fat-soaked starchy thing.

9) Throughout the early Cold War, the USSR was a source of inspiration to leftist Western intellectuals and Third World countries looking to throw off the imperialist yoke and modernize quickly. But by the early 1980′s, pressure was being applied to the Soviet Union on account of its violations of the human rights treaties it was a signitary to. Central planning remained an alien ideology to all Western societies, increasingly so as its failures became clearer. It was condemned for its invasion of Afghanistan (in reality, an intervention at the request of its new socialist government to defend them from Islamists).

The United States gained a great moral victory from the collapse of the USSR (despite it being a result of internal dynamics) and enjoyed it during the 1990′s. However, this came to an end after 2001 due to the hypocritical and immoral way it went about waging the Orwellian-sounding “war on terror”. Preemptive war on made-up pretenses, extraordinary renditions of terrorist suspects and the neocons’ incessant freedom-rhetoric was something the world by and large couldn’t square together. This resulted in its poor showing in international approval ratings and its repeated “victories” in the “world’s greatest threats to peace” category with Iran, Israel and North Korea as regular runner-ups and after party company. Although the fairness of such characterizations can be disputed, they are ultimately immaterial since it is perceptions that matter – not right or wrong, however defined.

The central planning model of the USSR was fully discredited by the 1980′s; neoliberalism is similarly on en route to the ashcan of history.

8) The USSR was spending about 25% of its GDP on the military by the 1980′s. Not only did this squeeze consumption and contribute to stagnant real incomes from around the mid 1970′s, it divested resources from investment into renewing the capital stock, civilian R&D and improvement of human capital via education and healthcare. However, official figures were ridiculously low – around 2.5% or so of GDP – due to statistical fudging and giving purely military enterprises funny names like the Chelyabinsk Tractor and Machine Building Factory (invented example).

The US maintains unrivaled power projection capabilities, a global network of 700 military bases and the world’s most technologically advanced military force – but it comes at a steep price. While the official military budget for FY2008 is around 520bn $, to this must be added the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (170bn $), interest on past military expenditures (170bn $), nuclear weapons (30bn $), veterans (70bn $), “homeland defense” (70bn $) and other spending on their lavish healthcare and education entitlements, military foreign aid and “black projects”. (And btw, the figures for interest, nukes and veterans are from 2005). Therefore, it is probably entirely reasonable to double the entire military budget to better appreciate its true magnitude – i.e., quite possibly close to 10% of GDP. Add in the distortions – military production has the smallest multiplier effect on the economy (machine building has the biggest), and its claim on skilled workers (something like half of R&D outlays in the US are for military applications), and you get a superpower severely hobbled by its arms’ burden.

This is not a good situation, but not critical either. Yes, it ties down a big chunk of the economy in unproductive pursuits and contributes to the institutional corruption and runaway spending that is typical of military-industrial complexes. I happen to consider that most of the procurement programs currently being pursued are useless, from unproven missile defense to the overhyped F-35 (just build a few hundred much superior F-22′s instead) to the shiny new surface warships and aircraft carriers that are of dubious value in our era of advanced cruise missiles, UAV’s and supercavitating torpedos. (But this for another post). Most poignantly, Obama is now preparing to withdraw from Iraq (where stability is not yet assured, and which is far more strategically important) to free up troops for Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires…and ignoring Soviet veterans’ warnings of what might await them. And the economy is nowhere near as dominated by the priorities of the Armed Forces as was the case in the USSR. Nonetheless, huge military spending and foreign adventures do not necessarily lead to collapse – by themselves. However, the other economic and confidence problems now facing the US now make that a realistic possibility.

7) The Soviet Union invested vast resources into industrial development. However, they were frequently inefficient, wasteful and of questionable quality; and in any case were being severely undercut by the arms burden by the 1980′s.

Although the US built up a world class public infrastructure prior to the 1980′s, since then investments in this area have dropped off. The roads in California are frequently cracked and potholed – vastly inferior to what one might find in Germany, and not much better than in Russia. One quarter of bridges are structurally deficient, in most cities the water pipeline system is a century old and the electrical grid befits a Third World country.

Even worse is that much of the “infrastructure” that was built up in the past few decades consisted of lavish homes in sururbia requiring massive inputs of cheap energy to function normally. When oil is at 10$, spending an hour driving to work is monetarily (if not spiritually) sustainable; as we pass the oil peak and other resources (almost certainly) fail to make good the gap in time, this will change as petrol soars in price, even assuming it will remain available on the open market. Due to the “psychology of preveious investments” (see James Kunstler’s work) it is unlikely Americans will summon the will to scale down its suburbia before the laws of economics and geology force them into it.

Soviet industry was inefficient and was destroyed when subjected to market forces. American industry has already been hallowed out; high productivity growth masks a huge decline in quantity and complexity of its “industrial ecosystem”. US vehicle production fell from 13.0mn to 10.8mn from 2000 to 2007, held up only by the (doomed in the long-term) SUV market which is the only sector in which the Big Three made any profits. (During the same period, Germany increased production from 5.5mn to 6.2mn and Japan from 10.1mn to 11.6mn). Its machine tool building industry has for all intents and purposes collapsed. The only marginally healthy manufacturing industries left are in aerospace and defense. This is going to have very bad consequences when inflows of cheap credit from abroad can no longer sustain the US consumption boom; the manufacturing sector that could potentially have led to a quick revival simply no longer exists.

6) Whatever the faults of the USSR in its early years, there was genuine enthusiasm for building socialism relatively untainted by corruption. This began to change rapidly for the worse from the 1970′s. The elites became exclusively concerned with their own power and wellbeing, ultimately leading to the “insider buyout” that probably best describes what happened in its dying days. The size of the bureaucracy exploded and its effectiveness plummeted. A small change for the better under Gorbachev in the mid to late 1980′s led to catastrophic collapse, endemic corruption under Yeltsin, and some improvements under Putin from a very low base. Blatant self-enrichment of the elite at society’s expense became an accepted norm.

How does this translate to the US?

Collapse in ethics, quoting Buiter in Fiscal expansions in submerging markets:

… Financial regulation and supervision was weak to non-existent, encouraging credit and asset price booms and bubbles. Corporate governance, especially but not only in the banking sector, became increasingly subservient to the interests of the CEOs and the other top managers. There was a steady erosion in business ethics and moral standards in commerce and trade. Regulatory capture and corruption, from petty corruption to grand corruption to state capture, became common place. Truth-telling and trust became increasingly scarce commodities in politics and in business life. The choice between telling the truth (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) and telling a deliberate lie or half-truth became a tactical option. Combined with increasing myopia, this meant that even reputational considerations no longer acted as a constraint on deliberate deception and the use of lies as a policy instrument. As part of this widespread erosion of social capital, both citizens and markets lost faith in the ability of governments to commit themselves to any future course of action that was not validated, at each future point in time, as the most opportunistic course of action at that future point in time – what macroeconomists call time-consistent policies and game theorists call ’subgame-perfect’ strategies.

Under bloated special interests, I put the bloated financial services industry, the legalistic mafia, the healthcare industry and the prison-industrial complex. Finance as a share of GDP doubled in the last 30 years, transforming it from a service industry to a rent-seeking one. The proliferation of lawyers amidst amidst burgeoning legalism in society is another example of a self-serving mafia feeding on the blood of the citizenry, as are the “justice” systems and prisons that have gone together with them (the US has an incarceration rate that is unprecedented amongst anything but totalitarian societies). Finally there’s the healthcare industry, perversely regulated in such a way as to make it far less efficient than if it were nationalized or completely private and delivering one of the worst results for the buck in the world – and like a metastasizing cancer, it’s share of GDP has also exploded in the past few decades.

5) Since the 1970′s real wages for workers in the Soviet Union ceased growing, pressed down by the demands of the military-industrial complex. When statistics began to show that the average life expectancy was stagnating and infant mortality rising, they ceased publishing them.

Real median income in the US slowly increased from 35,000$ in 1967 to 46,000$ in 2005; however, the rate of increase slowed and for the first time in modern history it didn’t exceed the level reached at the peak prior to the last recession in 2000-2001 during the growth years of the Bush Presidency. In reality however the situation is even worse because since the time of Reagan the definition of inflation used by the government was being continuously reworked to make the figures appear better than they otherwise would have been, using substitutions and hedonics to spruce up the figures (i.e. adjusting for consumers switching to other products when similar products become expensive, and trying to put values on quality improvements). If the BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis) continued using its old measuring standards, then a) the economy would have been in stagnation during the 1990′s and recession in the 2000′s, b) inflation would have been steadily increasing to a peak of nearly 14% in 2007 and c) median incomes would have been in steep decline. According to this thesis, then, the only reason the US avoided a big fall in living standards was due to the massive expansion in credit…which brings us to the next point.

4) The Soviet Union grew rapidly in the 1950′s and 1960′s because it was easy to move plenty of rural farmhands into relatively low-skilled industrial jobs. However as labor stocks became limited and focus shifted towards improving technology and productivity, GDP growth slowed and eventually stagnated. Collapse was delayed by the onset of high oil prices, which allowed the USSR to more easily import food products, machinery and technologies. When that collapsed in the mid-1980′s, the state was forced to run up huge debts to maintain mounting entitlement obligations, an overgrown military and bail out its East European satellites. Corruption and hidden inflation overtook the state and broke it.

According to Willem Buiter writing in Can the American economy afford a Keynesian stimulus?, America is a nation in fundamental disequilibrium. It can finance its continuous double deficits by giving its foreign investors an atrocious rate of return. In prior times, they accepted this because of America’s status as the largest economy, sole superpower and global financial center. This was presumed to reduce risk, so investors traded profits for security. From 2000-2004, it is estimated that the US exported some 559bn $ of this “dark matter“, or some 5% of its GDP at the time (the UK was second with 234bn $, or a stunning 15% of GDP). It also draws immense strength from the $’s role as the global reserve currency, for instance by allowing it to comfortably buy oil at $-denominated prices even when the currency is weak.

Due to its imperial overstretch, moribund financial system and frozen credit markets prepped up only by the federal government means that American alpha is almost certainly going to disappear in the next few years. The US fiscal deficit is going to be more than 12% of GDP in 2009 and will remain in the red for at least the next few years. Once global flight to quality ceases, the US will experience difficulties borrowing due foreign f ear of American reluctance to commit to servicing their external obligations without inflation. The interest rates on them are going to be punitive and so a greater amount of resources will have to go towards servicing the debt, thus triggering a potential debt crisis. Buiter predicts a global dump of US dollar assets including Treasury bonds within the next two to five years as investors lose faith in the ability of the US Federal government to generate the primary surpluses required to service its debt without selling much of it to the Fed on a permanent basis, or that the nation as a whole will be able to generate the primary surpluses to service the negative net foreign investment position without the benefit of “American alpha”.

In conclusion, the only reason the US can afford to have both guns and butter is that the outside world is willing to provide it with cheap credit. This will no longer be the case as soon as global panic subsides, and the US will face the real possibility of a debt-and-currency crisis which it will have to inflate its way out of (on which they seem to be making a good start). The 2010′s will see plummeting global oil extraction and sky-high prices. If the $ were to collapse, the imports of oil that fuel the economy will plummet and may lead to a post-Soviet-scale drop in GDP (unless the US uses its military clout to lock in Iraqi and Saudi production – however, given its fiscal problems, questions about political unity and rhetorical commitment to human rights, that would be hard to achieve).

America can take consolation in one thing, however – the collapse in Britain, which is three times as reliant on “dark matter”; which is a much bigger energy importer relative to production; whose industry is in a far more decayed state; and where real breakup is far more likely because of ethnic tensions, will be much worse.

3) When Mikhail Gorbachev (the youngest member of the Politburo) came to power he talked of increasing transparency (glasnost) and restructuring (perestroika). Yet the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it starts to reform. In reality the Soviet system was already very probably unsalvageable by then, partly because even the leader himself continued to be a part of the system, beholden to dominant interests (in the Soviet case, to the military-industrial complex, the nomenklatura and workers) and steeped in delusions of grandeur. Even as he attempted to liberalize and solve many interlocking social and economic problems at once, social entitlements were increased, new weapons systems ordered and foreign borrowing increased. Half-measures and reckless credit giveouts to save the system led to massive waste, insider plunder and the start of the disintegration of the economy by the late 1980′s.

The similarities with Obama are striking. Obama is one of the youngest Presidential candidates ever, and talks of hope and change. He comes after the zastoi, deterioration in political and civil liberties and reckless foreign military adventures of Bush II. Like Gorby, he is immensely popular throughout the world. He plans on expanding healthcare and other social entitlements, burdening the economy with farcical green schemes* and is intent on rescuing the troubled financial system by massive infusions of credit, with no regard for the future inflationary consequences. His advisors are the same clique of insiders under previous administrations, especially the Clinton one. He is beholden to the financiers and industrial lobbying groups that fund him and the middle classes that are the bedrock of American political power (as were Soviet workers), which are now being whittled down by the collapse in credit and repossessions. Major cuts in funding for the the Armed Forces and sustainable retreat are simply not envisioned. *As anyone who reads this blog nows, I consider global warming one of the greatest challenges faced by civilization. The problem is that schemes to fund “clean coal” or implement carbon trading are too little, too late, too costly and too unreliable.

Obama is steeped in the Pax Americana mindset (just as Gorbachev was steeped in scientific socialism), which is complacent and rests on its laurels; and as such the possibility of collapse simply cannot seriously enter his mind or considerations. Therefore the truly revolutionary reform that is needed to preserve the current system is unlikely to be contemplated, if its even possible.

2) As economic and political difficulties mounted in the USSR, they were further reinforced by disintegration on ethnic lines, diverting administrative and economic resources away from what should have been more pressing matters.

Recently New Hampshire formally requested a casus foedoris with the other states of the union separately from the federal government in a RESOLUTION affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.

That this State does therefore call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this State in considering acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States, not merely as the cases made federal, (casus foederis,) but in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent: that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories; and

That the said committee be authorized to communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or person who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them; and that they lay their proceedings before the next session of the General Court; and

That any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America. Acts which would cause such a nullification include, but are not limited to:

I. Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within one of the States comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that State.

II. Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

III. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law.

IV. Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government.

V. Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press.

VI. Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition; and

That should any such act of Congress become law or Executive Order or Judicial Order be put into force, all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually. Any future government of the United States of America shall require ratification of three quarters of the States seeking to form a government of the United States of America and shall not be binding upon any State not seeking to form such a government; and

That copies of this resolution be transmitted by the house clerk to the President of the United States, each member of the United States Congress, and the presiding officers of each State’s legislature.

New Hamphshire isn’t isolated. States rights bills are being pushed in nine states this year and almost half the states’ legislatures have plans to pass similar resolutions. While most are addressed to Congress or the President to back off from further violating state’s rights, New Hampshire is appealing for solidarity from other states to develop a casus feodoris / alliance to develop a counter-weight to the federal government in case it increases interference in state matters or moves towards authoritarianism to manage the consequences of the economic crisis. The incidence of tax revolts are growing.

This is all still very far from the situation in the USSR, where after all half the population wasn’t even Russia whereas the US is a nationally homogeneous nation. Nonetheless, the trends are ominous. There is no visible horizon to the end of the economic crisis, and even as late as 1989 no Soviet republic except the Baltics wanted out.

1) Economist Willem Buiter believes there will be a global dumping of $ assets within two to five years. Financial advisor James West writing in SeekingAlpha believes a US debt default and dollar collapse are “altogether likely”. Russia fund investor Eric Kraus has been lamenting the unsustainability of American disbalances for years and predicted the US will fall into a debt trap last November. The economist Nouriel Roubini, one of the few to have foreseen this crisis, predicts this recession will be far longer and deeper than any other post-war recession. Even the Economist mentioned the possibility of a US debt-and-currency crisis in one of its recent issues.

Dmitri Orlov explicitly compares the US to the USSR, and concludes that the collapse will be worse, at least in social terms, in the former. The Russian economist Mikhail Khazin predicts a 25-40% drop in American GDP. Future and trends analyst Gerard Celente, who succesfully predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, now foresees an unprecendented fall in US economic output, tax rebellions and food riots. Russian professor Igor Panarin sees disintegration and civil war as soon as this year.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
No Items Found
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.