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Friday, April 20, 2012

Titanic

Titanic

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its
fatal encounter with the iceberg: the idea that the ship will
sink is beyond belief.

By Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds.com
April, 20, 2012

As we all know, the "unsinkable" Titanic suffered a glancing
collision with an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912.

Ten minutes after the iceberg had opened six of the ship's
16 watertight compartments, it was not at all apparent that
the mighty vessel had been fatally wounded, as there was no
evidence of damage topside.

Indeed, some eyewitnesses reported that passengers playfully
scattered the ice left on the foredeck by the encounter.

But some rudimentary calculations soon revealed the truth to
the officers: the ship was designed to survive four watertight
compartments being compromised, and could likely stay afloat
if five were opened to the sea, but not if six compartments
were flooded.

Water would inevitably spill over into adjacent compartments
in a domino-like fashion until the ship sank.

We can sympathize with the disbelief of the officers, and with
their confused reaction, simultaneously reassuring passengers
and attempting to goad them into the lifeboats.

With the interior still warm and bright with lights, it seemed
far more dangerous to clamber into an open lifeboat and drift
off into the cold Atlantic than it did to stay onboard.

As a result, the first lifeboats left the ship only partially full.

Only when it became undeniable that the ship was doomed
did people attempt to "make other arangements," but by then
it was too late.

The tragedy was a cruel mix of human error (entering an ice
field at nearly top speed, 23-25 knots), hubris-soaked planning
(only enough lifeboats for half the passengers and crew) and
design flaws: the high-sulfur iron hull plating did not bend when
struck by the ice, it shattered like china.

As noted above, the watertight compartment design was also
flawed; indeed, some studies have found that the ship would
have stayed afloat an additional six hours had there been no
watertight compartments, as water would have sloshed evenly
along the entire length of the vessel.

I think this perfectly describes the present.

Our financial system seems "unsinkable," yet the reliance on debt
and financialization has already doomed it, whether we are willing
to believe it or not.

Maybe the illusion that the ship is unsinkable can be maintained
for another year or two; the Status Quo's success in masking the
ultimate fate of the financial system for the past four years
supports the belief that there is literally no limit to the Federal
Reserve and Treasury's power to keep the ship afloat, regardless
of the cost.

In other words, the Fed and Treasury are perceived as "unsinkable."

That illusion has cost trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars of
new debt that now burden the taxpayers: $2 trillion added to
the Fed balance sheet, $1.2 trillion in secret giveaways to the
banking cartel, and $6 trillion in additional Federal debt/spending.

Yet few of us are willing to entertain an exit from the belief system
that supports the Status Quo.

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal
encounter with the iceberg: we can't believe this grand ship could
sink, so we do nothing while it is still possible to influence our fate.

We could insist on changes to these doomed policies, but we do not; why?

Some of our reluctance can be attributed to disbelief, as the
gap between what we know is inevitable--the ship will sink
beneath the waves--and what we currently see--a proud,
mighty ship, apparently only lightly damaged--is so wide.

But if we delve deeper, we discern how calculations of risk and
gain yield faulty assessments of self-interest.

While the ship appears structurally sound, it seems risky to clamber
into an open lifeboat and drift away into the freezing night, while
the supposed gain (saving our life) is questionable: from the warm
deck of the ship, it seems that climbing into a small lifeboat would
place our life far more at risk than staying on board the mighty ship.

This assessment of self-interest was tragically flawed, and by the
time the impossible (sinking) had become the inevitable, it was
too late to change the fate we’d selected back when all seemed
permanent and secure.

The point of this exercise is to reveal just how illusory our
assessment of self-interest and security can be, and how
prone we are to making decisions based on the present even
when our rational minds are well aware that it is unsustainable.

The financial system of the United States of America is like the
Titanic.

Hubris led many to declare it financially unsinkable even as its
fundamental design was riddled with fatal flaws and the human
pilots in charge ran it straight into the ice field at top speed.

We have some time left before the ultimate fate is visible to all.

Ten minutes after the collision, the Titanic's passengers had
2 hours and 30 minutes before the "unsinkable" ship sank.

How much time we have left is unknown, but the bow of the
ship will be visibly settling into the icy water within a year or
two--and perhaps much sooner.

The below excerpt is taken from my new book Resistance,
Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal
encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems
unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already
doomed it.

We cannot know when the Central State and financial system
will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize.

We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and
obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be
renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more
sustainable model emerging is called revolution, and it combines
cultural, technological, financial and political elements in a
dynamic flux.

History is not fixed; it is in our hands. We cannot await a remote
future transition to transform our lives.

Revolution begins with our internal understanding and reaches
fruition in our coherently directed daily actions in the lived-in
world.

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogapril12/Titanic4-12.html

1 comment:

  1. I would add one additional point. As happens whenever the folks who will bear the brunt of impending disasters raise concerns about the ship, the factory, the power plant, the food additive, the clearcut forest, etc., they are told "this ship can't sink" (Titanic), "this factory is safe" (Union Carbide in Bhopal India), "this nuclear power plant will not fail" (Three Mile Island), "this waste dump is safe to build homes on" (Hooker Chemical at Love Canal), "Hey Brownie you're doing a great job" (Pres. Bush to the head of FEMA in the Katrina aftermath), and on and on. The captains of industry and finance and their supporters and enablers in government are put profits before people's safety. Now most of the countries are implementing an austerity program in the face of protracted economic stagnation and they tell us "don't worry, austerity for the 99% and tax breaks for the 1% is good for the world's economy." Bullshit!

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