AKA “catabolic collapse.”

There are other factors contributing to this trend — it’s not just the greed and megalomania of some flawed personalities. Another big factor is the exhaustion of real wealth — you know, things of real value, like trees and fish and topsoil, readily accessible crude oil (free for just poking a hole in the ground!), clean water. Resource extraction was one of the things that made America “great” and now the resources are played-out. Now it takes more and more energy to get the same amount of real value out of extractive activities; and activities that used to be neutral or even net-positive (like farming by methods that build topsoil) are now extractive and straying into negative EROEI territory (industrial maize farming for one example: takes more than a gallon of fossil fuel to make a gallon of “clean” corn-based ethanol; and so-called fish farming (CAFO) for another: iirc it takes 7 lbs of wild-caught “feed” fish to make one lb of marketable CAFO salmon.)

All of this means that things get more expensive (as resources get scarcer and energy gets costlier) and lower quality (as materials are lightweighted and substituted to shave fractional pennies per unit produced). Add off-shoring and automation to the mix and you have not only the “easy” jobs in booming extraction industries going away, but value-added jobs going away, even white collar jobs going away. And as Umair mentions, with increasing scarcity of real value we have too much capital running about loose with a diminished stock of real value to purchase or invest in, so it starts investing in abstract game-playing instead (and the finance sector rises proportionately as the extractive and industrial sectors struggle).

It’s a predictable end game for industrial capitalism, but the fact that it’s predictable doesn’t make it any prettier or any less scary.

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

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