Dick Bernard: On April 7, my friend John sent me an e-mail, as follows: “My son Joel sent this to me. It is fascinating and disturbing. http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse/ You should check out this website and his seminar (several youtube videos embedded on the site). It touches on and brings together the topics of finance, national debt, inflation, peak oil, etc. It is in 20+ parts and takes over 3 hours, but it’s very worth it.”
Carol, whose comments follow, also watched the entire series, as have I and several others I know of. Carol lives in rural Minnesota near a town of perhaps 4000 residents. Following her comments, I add a few of mine. She and I wrote completely independent of each other: we didn’t know what the other had to say. Suffice to say, we think the series is worth your time. You can’t reach a conclusion about it without actually watching it all. Consider taking the time.
No one wants to hear bad news. We had eight years of hearing more and more bad news. I often thought it couldn’t get worse, but it did. Now we just want to hope again. So Chris Mortensen’s Crash Course isn’t for the faint of heart.
When the housing bubble burst, you probably couldn’t help thinking of
the Great Depression. Christian’s of some persuasions were (and are) convinced that the end of the world is imminent. I, too, still think the
financial mess we are in is just the beginning of hard times. There are
a lot more forces coming together that make this a unique crisis and not nearly just a matter of a depression/recession. Martenson’s Crash Course outlines several reasons why, though he doesn’t include global climate change. Martenson makes sense of why by explaining the exponential factor and then showing how it works in various areas. His explanations are easy to understand and very basic. One of the things I’ve been most disgusted with in the constant news about the financial mess is that it seems to relate mostly to people who make a lot of money. Martenson is more about the very roots of economics, in the opinion of people who live much farther down the economic ladder.
Although Martenson gives a little hope at the end in thinking that our
quality of life could improve, he does not see the catastrophic
consequences for those who cannot save or plan for the coming crisis. So do I think there is no hope? I really have very little hope that people will see the light, or that they will work together, or that anything substantial will be done soon enough. I hope to be proven wrong.
America has been so focused on individualism (capitalism is good at
fostering the “pull yourself up by your bootstrap mentality) that I
wonder if people can work together. There are two things I see in my
community. One is that people despise those who can’t “make
it” even though they are among them in the broader sense of who has
wealth. They also despise the government and see no hope coming from that direction. On the other hand though, they also do think there is a lack of focus on community and some are actively working to build local resources in the form of promoting the local food movement.
One other thing I’d like to mention is that Martenson doesn’t bring in
politics per se. He appears to be on the right side of the political
divide. The coming economic disaster is one area where I see some
agreement in what some on the right and the left fear. Unfortunately,
without any sane discussion about the causes, one cannot sanely address solutions.
Martenson includes a self-assessment elsewhere on his website. One thing that struck me was in his section about safety. He asks if one has guns, knows how to use them and has addressed other safety issues, like the development of community with those who live nearby. Somehow, though I’ve had the same thoughts and I’ve heard others on the left express similar thoughts, it struck me as more of a right-wing manner of facing the issue. It is an expression of the extreme individualism in this country…the tendency to focus on taking care of self through one’s own means rather than coming together as a community to address concerns through sane government.
Personally, I think everyone in the country should listen to Martenson’s Crash Course.
Dick Bernard observations made before reading Carol’s: The “3 hours” part was a bit daunting, but I took on the task, initially watching the first 3 or 4 segments, then ultimately the rest. It was helpful that a coffee-time friend of mine, Steve, who I told about the course, actually watched the whole thing before I did, and was glad he did. Steve is a retired manager for a major corporation and not prone to take leaps based on limited or no data. I trusted his judgment. I have only a vague notion of Steve’s political orientation: we’re simply friends sharing a space for an hour or so each morning.
The Crash Course didn’t provide me with any new or unusual information, but I found it very useful. It is in easily digestable “bites”, and can be watched all at once, or over time. Martenson covers the bases of the present and possible future consequences, and does it in a non-partisan way. He teaches well. He presents information he thinks is important. The conclusions are left to the viewer.
No one knows for certain exactly what will happen in the future. But Martenson makes a persuasive case that the next 20 years will not resemble the past 20, and that the longer term is not going to be a time where the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to over the last 20 years will return. There are too many “exponential curves” facing us, in population, energy use, etc., and if we factor in things like peak oil, climate change, global economic instability and such, and one is foolish to pretend that life can go on without very substantial changes in how we choose to live.
Succinctly, we all lived in the golden years. We, particularly those who come after us, are going to pay for our excess, and more than just in dollars.
Every day I see little ones, those from tiny newborns to teenager, and when I think of the future, I think about what’s ahead for them. My Dad lived about 20 years beyond my present age, so I might be around to see if Martenson’s predictions about the last 20 years are correct. But the present-day youngsters will be faced head-on with what we left behind, and they’ll just be in early adulthood when that 20 years comes.
I highly recommend watching the videos.
Final Notes from Dick after reading Carol’s: I was struck by how often Carol used the words “individualism” and “community” and their near relatives, like “together” or “local” to describe present and coming relationships in our own society. The community vs individual polarity is in itself a very complex yet very important topic for someone interested in writing about it.
Update June 3, 2009: Note #34 published this date for more on this topic.