Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XI

Yet another in an increasing collection of comments I have posted to the online media site The Tyee. This time it is a commentary on an article that reviews a book arguing in favour of the implementation of Universal Basic Income.

“No stone is left unturned in their thorough and convincing argument…”

I’m not so sure this is true. My personal focus for the past decade+ has been on the unsustainability of our complex society, particularly as it is impacted by our propensity to chase growth — especially population and economic, for these both have a significant connection to our ever-increasing drawdown of finite resources and ecological destruction of our planet. If we are not correcting this tendency to ‘grow’ in any way, shape, or form, then we are just creating more ways to kick-the-can-down-the-road of our wasteful and ruinous path; and place the significant burden of our misinformed ways on future generations.

One of the key arguments of archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s thesis regarding societal collapse as presented in his text The Collapse of Complex Societies is that a society becomes increasingly susceptible to collapse once it encounters diminishing returns on its investments in complexity. It is not a stretch at all to argue that we have been on the path of such decline for decades, particularly once we began creating a purely fiat currency that has allowed an explosion in debt/credit. If one looks at the ‘growth’ of our world since the late 1960s when central banks/governments shifted the world to a monetary system that creates money from thin air with no connection to physical commodities that could constrain our growth somewhat, it is almost all predicated on debt/credit expansion; a conundrum since debt repayment necessitates the growth imperative to continue (yes, basically a gargantuan Ponzi scheme).

Why is this connection to fiat currency important? Primarily because money is basically a claim on future resources and such resources are in terminal decline. So, the more money we ‘print’ (regardless of the reason for its printing), the more claims there are on future resources; resources that not only are disappearing quickly and getting more costly to access (because we always retrieve the easiest and cheapest to get to first), but whose retrieval results in monumental ecological destruction.

And on top of all this is the whole overshoot conundrum we have led ourselves into because of the above. Again, it is not difficult to argue that we have far surpassed the natural carrying capacity of our environment and only been able to ‘sustain’ our population by increasing our drawdown of resources through technology, energy-averaging systems (based on trade/geopolitical conquests), and this explosion of debt.

So, if we want to support our most vulnerable in society in a world that must pursue degrowth (the antithesis of our current pursuits and its expansion of debt/credit), then we need a much more complex discussion of how to do this. I see zero mentions of these complexities in the article. Just creating more money to distribute to a portion of our society is not a solution. In fact, the creation of more and more fiat is likely to have the negative consequence of our ruling class pursuing (more than they already do) increasing and significant price inflation, something that tends to hurt the majority of society more so than the elite at the top of the monetary/financial/economic system.

Please visit my website.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

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A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...