This post from Femme Vitale raises thoughtful issues about tiny houses and freedom to live as you wish, with links for folks seeking more information. Tiny houses offer a practical way for people to cope with limits created by debt, job shortages, and slow economic growth. Maybe tiny houses will change the size of the American Dream. Zoning laws need to be updated to provide places for tiny houses, preferably mixed in with housing of other sizes. Add major improvements in public transportation, and the future suddenly looks quite appealing. — John Hayden

Femme Vitale

Lately, I have been extremely discouraged by what I believe are very critical challenges facing my generation. One of the primary challenges I see is the crippling amount of debt accumulated by the average American college graduate in times of intense competition for work. In this climate in which individuals step out into the world with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, the dream of owning a home can seem impossible, even with a decent job. Furthermore, the prospect of taking on a huge mortgage, working for years just to pay off the interest, and paying off the home just in time for retirement  is not especially appealing. Because we live in a society that is becoming more and more nomadic, and because children rarely choose to live where they were raised, working an entire life just to pay off a mortgage does not, in essence, better the next…

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Five Warning Signs of Continuing Economic Collapse

It’s not Armageddon. But it’s not economic recovery. We’re not all going to live happily ever after.

The Statue of Liberty front shot, on Liberty I...

We’ll not be returning to the status quo ante 2006. That’s gone forever. The assumption of endless growth and prosperity is over in America. The American Dream of the past half-century is cooked.

What about more jobs, jobs, jobs for American workers, like the politicians pretend they believe? They can’t deliver it. Not going to happen. Glimmers of recovery here and there, maybe; but it will be the exception, not the rule.

Reindustrialization of America? Maybe a little bit, but new industry won’t need factories filled with unskilled workers. Or any kind of workers. Automation, robotization, computerization. All signs point to fewer jobs, not more jobs.

The promise of more jobs and economic recovery is a lie, or at least a mirage. I have to believe that many knowledgeable people in high places are aware of the truth. But they dare not say it out loud. Too many Americans are still in denial.

In order for people to accept the loss of the endless growth and prosperity model, they have to be able to replace it with a substitute. Leaders of government and business have not been able to come up with a substitute. They don’t know what to do except dissemble, and hope for a miracle.

The signs of continuing collapse in the near term and medium term are all around. Here are five of the most important warning signs, Continue reading

America’s Can’t-Do Attitude

Here’s a glimpse of government in America, as reported in my hometown newspaper.

The City Council is concerned about the large crowds waiting at bus stops, often watching three or four buses pass without stopping because the buses are already jam-packed standing-room-only.

The transportation administrator (we’ll call him H.A.) assured the City Council that his department is “doing the best they can.” He explained:

“The problem is just like the  _____ Steakhouse, you can’t build it big enough, you can’t staff it enough to meet the people, you can’t do it and you can’t afford to do it.”

Four can’t-do-its in one miserable sentence by a high-ranking public bureaucrat! And he’s the boss! Can you imagine how demoralized his employees must feel? It’s enough to make you cry. But wait. H.A. is only getting started. As the newspaper reported:

H.A. added that it is also difficult to fill bus shifts because driving a bus in   _______ City isn’t a fit for everybody. He said currently the department does not have full staffing and there are 32 vacant eight-hour shifts.

“As of today, we are not fully staffed . . . you can’t walk in the door and get in the seat of that bus,” H.A. said.

H.A. explained that if a driver does not have a CDL license (commercial driver’s  license) it would take an additional 30 days to train and acquire a passenger license.

Let me see if I understand this. Unemployment is over 9 percent in America — and higher in our local area — and yet the administrator is unable to hire sufficient bus drivers? The required 30 days training is too high an obstacle to overcome?

A City Council member assured H.A., “There are no problems in us giving you the money you need to have to do the job.” H.A. proudly acknowledged that money is NOT the problem. Money is not going to change his can’t-do attitude.

“If you hand me a bazillion dollars, it doesn’t mean I have all the drivers and all the vehicles,” H.A. said. “It’s an octopus with a lot of tentacles, you make it work.”

(H.A. also affirmed that the supply of buses is not the problem. He has 14 brand new buses waiting to go into service.)

If anyone remained unconvinced that HA can’t do the job, he went on to confirm his determined futility with the following:

“I don’t want anybody in this room to think we will be in a position to deploy a sufficient number of buses every time you’re waiting at the bus stop during a peak hour, on a peak night, on a beautiful hot, sunny evening in June, July and August and that we will be able to pick you up every 10 minutes.” H.A. said. “It’s utopia and it just can’t be done.”

Case closed. Ladies and gentlemen, when any bureaucrat, government agency, corporation, or business becomes so thoroughly demoralized and convinced that it can’t do its job, don’t you think it’s past time for a change?

American workers, businesses, and government used to proudly flaunt a CAN-DO attitude. No More. H.A.’s defeatist can’t-do attitude has become the new standard in America. Can’t-do permeates American government, politics, and business.

America seems immobilized by a deadly epidemic of passive-aggressive sickness. We can’t do it. Even if we could do it, we won’t do it, and nobody can make us do it. You can’t complain about it, because we won’t even answer the phone.

  • “Hello. We value your business.
  • Please press One for Lies.
  • Press Two for Dysfunction.
  • Press Three for Disrespect.
  • Press Four for Excuses.
  • Press Five to be Disconnected.
  • Have a nice day.”

Add up all the can’t-do attitudes like H.A.’s from every corner of this once-great nation, and you get the following:

American workers can’t compete with other workers around the world.

American businesses can’t stop moving factories and jobs overseas.

America can’t maintain its bridges and highways and water and sewer systems.

America can’t afford Medicare and Social Security. (Although every other advanced Western nation can.)

American business is sitting on billions in idle capital, but American business can’t put the money to work because of uncertainty. (Life is uncertain. Starting a business or investing capital is always fraught with uncertainty, by definition. Uncertainty is the nature of capitalism. Profits and stock prices routinely climb a wall of fear.)

The U.S. Senate can’t pass a budget because it can’t get 60 votes. On anything. You name it, the U.S. Senate can’t do it.

Congress can’t follow and the President can’t lead. Democrats and Republicans can’t work together. What did you expect?

We, the voters, can’t be serious. We’re surrounded by momentous problems, begging to be solved; but we can’t pay attention to anything, except sex scandals.

Ladies and gentlemen, our can’t-do attitude is killing whatever is left of the American Dream.

— John Hayden