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Kunstler: Christmas in Flyover Land

Public Policy

Last year, a local guy started renovating a restaurant on Main Street that has been shuttered for at least fifteen years. He’d retired from the army and started a company that made a fortune clearing landmines in faraway lands where US nation-building plans went awry. Wasn’t that a ripe business opportunity! He’s from here and loves the village and married his high school sweetheart — and would like the place to come back to life.

He’s partnered up with another guy who intends to open a bistro with a bar, a fireplace, and supposedly a boutique distillery operation in the back. That would give some people in town a reason to leave the house at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, when the day’s work is done — people like me who work alone all day. It could also give the citizens of this community a comfortable place to talk to each other about their lives and the place where we all live, and what we might do about things here. That’s called local politics.

I’ll refrain from tossing off judgments about the exterior treatment for now. Draw your own conclusions. I haven’t seen the inside and there’s butcher paper taped up on the windows while they finish in there. It looks like they’ll open early in the new year. There hasn’t been a comfortable public gathering place on Main Street in a long time. There’s a “tasting room” at a local small brewery down the block, but it’s hardly bigger than a couple of broom-closets and the New York Liquor Authority has an asinine regulation that literally forbids comfortable seating in such a designated establishment. Stools only. And only a few of those. What kind of culture does that to itself?

Ours apparently. When you get down to it, the sickness at the heart of our nation these days is the result of countless bad choices, large and small, that we’ve made collectively over decades, including the ones made by our elected officialdom. The good news is that we could potentially move in the opposite direction and start making better choices. However deficient and unappetizing you think Mr. Trump is, and how crudely unorthodox his behavior, that equation is what got enough people to vote for him. The strenuous efforts to antagonize him, disable him, and get rid of him by any means necessary — including police-state tactics, bad faith inquisitions, and outright sedition — have prevented the nation as a whole from entertaining a realistic new consensus for making better choices. In fact, it has achieved just the opposite: a near civil war, edition 2.0.

All the people of America, including the flyovers, are responsible for the sad situation we’re in: this failure to reestablish a common culture of values most people can subscribe to and use it to rebuild our towns into places worth caring about. Main Street, as it has come to be, is the physical manifestation of that failure. The businesses that used to occupy the storefronts are gone, except for second-hand stores. Nobody in 1952 would have believed this could happen. And yet, there it is: the desolation is stark and heartbreaking. Even George Bailey’s “nightmare” scene in It’s a Wonderful Life depicts the supposedly evil Pottersville as a very lively place, only programmed for old-fashioned wickedness: gin mills and streetwalkers. Watch the movie and see for yourself. Pottersville is way more appealing than 99 percent of America’s small towns today, dead as they are.

The dynamics that led to this are not hard to understand. The concentration of retail commerce in a very few gigantic corporations was a swindle that the public fell for. Enthralled like little children by the dazzle and gigantism of the big boxes, and the free parking, we allowed ourselves to be played. The excuse was “bargain shopping,” which actually meant we have sent the factories to distant lands and eliminated your jobs, and all the meaning and purpose in your lives — and cheap stuff from Asia is your consolation prize. Enjoy…

The “bones” of the village are still standing but the programming for the organism of a community is all gone: gainful employment, social roles in the life of the place, confidence in the future. For a century starting in 1850, there were at least five factories in town. They made textiles and later on, paper products and, in the end, toilet paper, ironically enough. Yes, really. They also made a lot of the sod-busting steel ploughs that opened up the Midwest, and cotton shirts, and other stuff. The people worked hard for their money, but it was pretty good money by world standards for most of those years. It allowed them to eat well, sleep in a warm house, and raise children, which is a good start for any society. The village was rich with economic and social niches, and yes, it was hierarchical, but people tended to find the niche appropriate to their abilities and aspirations — and, believe it or not, it is better to have a place in society than to have no place at all, which is the sad situation for so many today. Homelessness in America runs way deeper than just the winos and drug addicts living on the big city sidewalks.

I’ve written a ton about the bad choice of suburbanizing the USA and all its subsidiary ill-effects, and yet it’s a subject so rich that you can hardly exhaust it. It has produced an entropic wasting disease on our country so complex in symptoms that all the certified PhD economists and sociologists of the Ivy League and the land-grant diploma mills can barely diagnose the illness, or calculate the pain it has caused. Not a small part of this is the utter and abject absence of artistry expressed in the places we’ve built since 1945.

Our Main Street flaunts that boldly. The 1960-vintage post office looks like a soviet lunch-counter — or, more specifically, the box that it came in. What were they thinking? The video store looks like a muffler shop. The graceful four-story hotel that stood at the absolute center of town, and burned down in 1957, was replaced by a one-story drive-in bank. The façade re-doos of the 1970s and 80s display a mindboggling array of bad choices in claddings, colors, proportioning, and embellishment. It’s as if the entire world of aesthetics had died in the canebrakes of the Solomon Islands in 1944, and afterward nobody realized that something in America had gone missing. It’s particularly dismaying when you see the efforts that earlier generations made to instill some beauty in the things they built, with a few examples still standing for all to wonder at and dote on.

The damage done can be undone. It’s really a question of what it might take and that’s a big question because it will almost surely take a shock to the system. That shock could come as soon as the next two weeks — as not a few observers have predicted — in the form of a gross financial dislocation. The ongoing mysterious action in the “re-po” markets suggests that some kind of black hole has gaped open in the banking cosmos and is sucking literally hundreds of billions of dollars into an alternative universe. Guess we’ll have to stand by on that. The shale oil orgy is probably peaking, and the after-effects of that will be pretty harsh, but it might take a couple more years to play out. The weak leg of the stool these days seems to be our politics, the dangerous deformities of which I set forth in this blog regularly. (Some readers object to hearing about it, of course, for reasons I must regard as  peevish and specious.) Most likely, the shocks will come in combinations from banking, from the rest of the actual economy, and from these deadly “gotcha” politics.

You can see the humble beginnings of change around here, or at least an end to some of the practices and behaviors I’ve described above. The K-Mart shut down last March. It left the town without a general merchandise store — besides the Dollar Store, which sells stuff that fell off a truck somewhere in China. But the chain stores will have to go down if we’re ever going to rebuild networks of local and regional commerce and bring Main Street back to life. And you must be aware that chain stores are going down by the thousands all around the country, the so-called retail apocalypse. These things have to die for a new economic ecosystem to emerge, and it looks like the process is underway. I hope the fast food joints are next. At least we’re getting a new independent bistro in town.

The landscape around here is composed of tender hills and little hollows that precede the Green Mountains of Vermont, ten miles down the pike. Apart from its stunning beauty, it’s not bad farmland, either, and the rugged topography lends itself to small scale farming which is a good thing because that’s the coming trend. I maintain that farming will eventually become the center of the next economy here as life in the USA is compelled to downsize and re-localize. We could make a few things again, too, because a river runs through town with many hydro sites — waterfalls where small factories once stood — and that river leads to the mighty Hudson four miles downstream. The Hudson can take you around the world or deep into the interior of North America via the Erie and Champlain canals that run off the Hudson.

For the moment though, the country faces that set of convulsions I call the long emergency, with politics at center stage just now. The locals, myself included, have strung up the colored lights and set out the effigies of Santa and his reindeer. I love Christmas, the trappings, the music, and the sense that we’re obliged to bring some enchantment into our lives when the days are shortest and darkest. I doubt we can Make America Great Again in the Trump sense, but we can reanimate our nation’s life, and re-enchant our daily doings in it, and learn to care about a few things again.

I’ll be putting together my usual vain and starry-eyed Forecast 2020 the following Monday, with a regular blog in between on Friday. Merry Christmas, readers! And thank you for being here!


94 Comments on "Kunstler: Christmas in Flyover Land"

  1. Davy to JuanP on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 6:50 am 

    “The sad reality of what is happening is I have weaponized the bad behavior of taking people identities and using multiple fake handles.”
    You have JuanP and this is delusional, with mental illness, and hostile to others. You are a disgusting low life that is unable to debate so you troll.

    “This then gets used against me and the result is a forum any normal person with a rational and intelligent mind will avoid.”
    NO shit, JuanP, you have run off most all our quality people. There are just a few people here now. Who wants to read your muzzie shit??, your mindless trolling, and your mentally ill sex perversion. If I play along it is because I believe a good defense is an offense. You can end this today I you ignore me and I ignore you. You don’t want to do this for egotistical reasons so you ruin this forum selfishly.

    “I don’t care because for me this is about a turf war and I have nothing better to do with my meaningless widdle life.” “I like to think this is my own private forum to say and do as I please. It isn’t.”
    This is a perfect description of yourself JuanPee. You will not relent with your mindless trolling because you want to own the forum. This is not a few months thing this is 2 ½ years of dedicated trolling and stalking. This indicates severe personality issues you make the rest of us deal with

    “I want, no, I DEMAND this place to submit to my will. They won’t. If I don’t get what I want then nobody does cus i think i’m special.”
    JuanP, a perfect description of yourself. PERFECT!

    “I don’t care to contribute either I just want to have this place to myself and play my mind games and copy and paste off topic spam and pretend i’m neutering everyone else.”
    Perfect description of yourself JuanPee. You add nothing to the conversations here. Look at what you wrote today. Your Davyskum sock is a perfect example of your bullshit.

    “Insane huh? Obviously, this is driving people off but who cares. I don’t cus i’m a liar and a hypocrite. And a selfish dumbass.”
    You proved you are insane and a hypocrite with this posting plus you did it with a sock and ID theft.


  2. The Board on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 8:15 am 

    Please do not feed the troll.

  3. I AM THE MOB on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 9:45 am 

    Are Jews Smarter Than Everyone Else?

    “In Commentary in April 2007, Charles Murray, the coauthor of The Bell Curve (1994), again made the claim that “Jews are smarter” than everyone else (Murray, 2007). In The Bell Curve, he and his late (and Jewish) coauthor, Richard Herrnstein, first presented their argument about the intellectual superiority of “Ashkenazic Jews of European origins,” who “test higher than any other ethnic group (Murray and Herrnstein, 1994). Jews in America and Britain have an overall IQ mean somewhere between a half and a full standard deviation above the mean, with the source of the difference concentrated in the verbal component.”

  4. The official Board on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 9:45 am 

    The troll is JuanP don’t acknowledge the skumbag.

  5. The REAL Board. on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 4:13 pm 

    The troll is delusional davy, don’t acknowledge the skumbag.

  6. JuanP is stupid on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 4:36 pm 

    Stupid is a jerk!

    This is from stupid:

    The REAL Board. said The troll is delusional davy, don’t acknowledge th…

  7. The REAL Board. on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 6:07 pm 

    Davy is a retard!

    This is from retard:

    The official Board on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 9:45 am

    And all the rest of it as well….

  8. JuanP is stupid on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 6:16 pm 

    stupid is a jerk

    This is from stupid:
    The REAL Board. said Davy is a retard! This is from retard: The officia…

  9. The REAL Board. on Wed, 25th Dec 2019 9:06 pm 

    Davy is a jerk

    This is from stupid jerk:

    The REAL Board. said Davy is a retard! It’s true, I am truly am. This is from retard: The officia…

  10. Cloggie on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 5:15 am 

    “Nord Stream 2 will be operational in 2nd half of 2020 despite US sanctions setting project timing back – top German official”

    Anglos trying to energy starve us.

    Well at least it is now clear who is the enemy.

  11. Davy on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 5:35 am 

    “Anglos trying to energy starve us. Well at least it is now clear who is the enemy.”

    LMFAO, the cloggo is telling us he is fossil fuel dependent and the renewable “transition” is a joke. Europe is working on a “transformation” and this is a reason Nord Stream is needed. If you follow the clogg you will see these consistencies abound.

  12. Cloggie on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 5:42 am 

    “LMFAO, the cloggo is telling us he is fossil fuel dependent and the renewable “transition” is a joke. Europe is working on a “transformation” and this is a reason Nord Stream is needed. If you follow the clogg you will see these consistencies abound.”

    Again, for the slow lane types here:

    The EU is at 20% primary renewable energy.
    The transition is planned for completion by 2050.
    Until that time we need fossil fuel.

    Never said anything else.

    So where are the inconsistencies, you primary enemy of the white race?

  13. Davy on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 6:36 am 

    “The EU is at 20% primary renewable energy.” “The transition is planned for completion by 2050.”
    “Until that time we need fossil fuel.”

    Yea, cloggo, tell us what percentage of that 20% primary energy is wind and solar. Then tell us on the growth numbers and explain why they are stalling. Try to dismiss economic decline in this dark picture for a 100% transition by 2050 bullshit. You need fossil fuels because a KW is not a KW when applied to the real world and paid for by a real economy. Eurotard land is just playing games with reality and it is likely some bad decisions are ahead as the EU area push the renewable transformation past what is safe physically, economically, and socially. This is mainly because of irrational policy by uneducated and gullible bureaucrats will push policy on dreamt up time frames with FAKE Green policy people like the cloggo or known for.

  14. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 6:36 am 

    Merry Christmas
    to all, and
    may your sofa-fire
    be of good cheer!

  15. JuanP on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 6:38 am 

    Thanks speeder. Do you have anything for depression? I am very depressed and self loathing these days.

  16. Anonymouse on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 6:42 am 

    Juan, you are such a pussy, quit complaining. I quit complaining about struggling in engineering school.

  17. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 9:34 pm 

    Hi Juan,
    suggesting find a gymnasium, pay by the month
    and lift a few weights. Just easy repetitions,
    don’t try to act like Schwarzenegger.
    The reason is the endorphins are what makes
    us feel good. the molecules are locked in the
    muscles and they don’t release to make us
    feel better unless the muscles are exercised.

    And don’t forget, a drive on a winding coastal
    road, in the Mach 5 with Trixie bouncing around
    in the right seat, that would make you feel
    better too. C’mon burn up 6 gallons of
    premium unleaded, it will make you feel good.

    What got you so depressed? Was it Trumps
    tweets? Or was it the Peak Oil chat board
    went to hell? i can never figure out why the
    website owner doesn’t clean up the mess.
    Not so long ago, we had oil drillers like
    Rockman explaining their industry to us.
    Now it’s just a bunch of first graders using
    four letter words. sigh.

    Well happy new year Juan!

  18. Davy on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 10:03 pm 

    Speeder. We are JuanP and JuanP is us. It’s all a part of our mentle exorcises to help make us feel smart.

  19. REAL Green on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 10:42 pm 

    Not just smart Davy. But REAL smart.

    BTW. Y’all need to check out our REAL Green smart link in our REAL Green handle. Donations our welcomed.


  20. Davy on Thu, 26th Dec 2019 10:52 pm 

    That’s why we made REAL Green are PR side. He’s REAL Good with other folk.

    You go REAL Green!

  21. JuanP on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 2:59 am 

    “Well happy new year Juan!”

    Thanks speeder but I am very depressed so it won’t be a happy one. I hate everyone here and they hate me.

  22. Go Speed Racer on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 7:44 am 

    Juan wait til Saturday night.
    if you find an old sofa free on
    Craig’s List, put in your backyard with
    old radial tires on top. pour lots of
    gasoline, light and watch the black
    smoke go into the night sky,
    it will make you very happy.
    Especially if it blows over to the
    neighbors windows.

    Especially if you have some pizza
    and some soda pop too.
    Keeps me happy so it will keep
    you happy too. so much more
    therapeutic than listening
    to Greta Thunberg, that’s probly
    what’s been running you down lately.

  23. JuanP on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 10:42 am 

    Me n Davy n REAL Green are gonna spend New Year’s Eve all alone again with the goats speeder.

  24. Speeder on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:10 am 

    I was worried something happened to you Juan. You have been so depressed lately.

  25. JuanP on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:23 am 

    You should be more worried about our goats speeder.

  26. Revi on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:25 am 

    Excellent post. Reminds me of the Kunstler of old. He is finally back to what is happening and his wit is really showing through again. Thanks!

  27. JuanP on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:34 am 

    I have a hamster who sleeps with me

  28. REAL Green on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:41 am 

    Yer lying again Juan. We don’t even have a hamster.

  29. Davy on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 11:48 am 

    REAL Greens write Revi. JuanP is lyin agin. We don’t even have a hamster.

  30. JuanP on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 12:13 pm 

    Revi. My widdle feelings were hurt and I am so so depressed. I am mindless too. Have you seen my Muzzi sock?

  31. Davy on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 12:43 pm 

    We need to see the docter REAL Bad JuanP.

  32. REAL Green on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 12:44 pm 

    Davys write. We need to see the docter REAL Bad JuanP.

  33. Richard Guunette on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 1:17 pm 

    Juan, tell us some mindless muzzi stuff. You know the woke stuff! We are bored and need to laugh at how stupid you are.

  34. Davy on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 1:37 pm 

    We need to see the docter REAL Bad Richard.

  35. REAL Green on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 1:42 pm 

    Its gettin REAL Crowded in hear Davy

  36. Richard Guunette on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 2:04 pm 

    JuanPee, please tell us some mindless woke muzzie crap. LMFAO. We want to laugh at you. You probably think you are clever that makes it so much funnier. double lol

  37. Davy on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 2:19 pm 

    We need to see the docter REAL Bad Richard

  38. Anonymouse on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 2:25 pm 

    JuanPee, pleaseee, tell us some mindless woke muzzle stuff. We want to laugh at you all the while you think you are being creative and interesting. He he he

  39. Davy on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 3:36 pm 

    How come nobody wants to come out and play with me today?

  40. REAL Green on Fri, 27th Dec 2019 3:46 pm 

    Likely because it’s the holidays Davy. And most people have friends and families and stuff like that.

  41. Cloggie on Sat, 28th Dec 2019 4:01 am 

    Deglobalisation latest:

    “Oops for Google Apps? Huawei seeks an alliance with other Chinese firms to push US giant out of Asia”

    Recipe for a multipolar IT-world:

    Euros: Linux OS
    Anglos: Windows OS
    Asians: Harmony OS
    Disputed Territories: Mohamed OS (illegal copies of some OS)

  42. REAL Green on Sat, 28th Dec 2019 4:35 am 

    “Visualizing Every Coal Power Plant In The World (1927-2019)” visual capitalist

    “As of 2019, there are an estimated 2,425 coal-fired power plants in the world, combining for an operating capacity of about 2,000 GW and roughly 15 billion tonnes of CO₂ emissions. Global Tipping Point? Since 2010, there have been hundreds of new coal power plants commissioned — and almost all of them can be found somewhere in Asia: However, it seems that this could be the year that the story changes. Preliminary data suggests that Indian coal consumption could drop in 2019 for the first time in over a decade. Meanwhile, it’s expected that China’s growing coal capacity could be fully offset by decreasing use of the fossil fuel in developed nations. As a result, according to Carbon Brief, global coal power generation could fall 3% in 2019:”

  43. REAL Green on Sat, 28th Dec 2019 4:50 am 

    “What Do They Know? US And Russia Both Developing Plans To Deal With Incoming Asteroids” the most important news

    “back in July a very large asteroid came very close to hitting us…A 427-foot-wide asteroid whizzed within 45,000 miles of Earth on Thursday. While that may sound far away, 45,000 miles is what astronomers consider a close shave: It’s less than 20% of the distance between Earth and the moon. This was the closest we’ve come to an “Armageddon”-like scenario in at least a few years. If that asteroid had actually hit our planet, it would have been the worst disaster that any of us have ever seen by a very wide margin. And according to leaked emails, officials at NASA only knew about it the day before it whizzed by us…Travelling at 55,000mph and measuring 426 feet by 187ft (130m x 57m), NASA only realised 2019 OK was coming 24 hours before it passed. Experts say that had it hit, it would have devastated an entire city like London with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima. So the truth is that we could be hit by a giant space rock at any time, and none of us may have any idea that it is even coming. With that being said, there are a couple of enormous asteroids that scientists do know about that could potentially be major problems over the next decade. The first one that I want to discuss is 2007 FT3. That is not a fancy name, and not that much is known about the asteroid, but apparently there is a chance that it “might hit the planet on Oct. 2, 2024”…In the case of 2007 FT3, Sentry reported that the asteroid could hit Earth between the years 2024 and 2116. During these years, Sentry recorded a total of 164 potential Earth impacts caused by the asteroid. As noted by the monitoring system, there’s a chance that 2007 FT3 might hit the planet on Oct. 2, 2024…On April 13th, 2029, it is being projected that Apophis will pass by our planet at a distance that is “ten times closer than the moon”. The following comes from Wikipedia…The closest known approach of Apophis comes on April 13, 2029, when the asteroid comes to within a distance of around 31,000 kilometres from Earth’s surface. The distance, a hair’s breadth in astronomical terms, is ten times closer than the moon, and even closer than some man-made satellites.[23] It will be the closest asteroid of its size in recorded history. On that date, it will become as bright as magnitude 3.1[22] (visible to the naked eye from rural as well as darker suburban areas, visible with binoculars from most locations).[24] The close approach will be visible from Europe, Africa, and western Asia. During the approach, Earth will perturb Apophis from an Aten-class orbit with a semi-major axis of 0.92 AU to an Apollo-class orbit with a semi-major axis of 1.1 AU.”

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