Spending a week driving around a western state 1,700 miles from my stomping grounds in Pennsylvania provides a different perspective on the level of economic, social and political degradation impacting the country. With a daily commute along the crumbling, crummy, gridlocked deathtrap roadways into West Philadelphia, the squalor and decomposition of our civilization is self-evident.
I live in a corrupt state with the highest gasoline taxes, highest tolls, massively underfunded government pension liability, failing government run public schools, suburban sprawl dotted with ghost malls, vacant industrial parks, and urban ghetto shitholes plagued by drugs, murder, welfare mentality, excessive taxes, and left wing politicians.
Politically, the state is virtually split down the middle, with the urban enclaves of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh dominated by Democrats, rural areas dominated by Republicans, and suburbs capable of going either way – but leaning left. Trump won the state mostly due to the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary in Philly and Pittsburgh. If the Democrats weren’t so dysfunctional and beholden to the far left, a moderate Democrat would win the state easily.
The governor is a Democrat and the legislature is Republican controlled, so budgets are virtually impossible to pass, with the only predictable outcome being higher taxes, fees, tolls, and deferral of essential actions to address the billions in underfunded government pensions. The Federal prison has a wing just for corrupt PA politicians. At least life is predictable.
Living in the northwest suburbs, 30 miles from the City of Philadelphia, and commuting into the city on a daily basis for the last 12 years, has given me a good vantage point in assessing the state of the infrastructure, economic trends, and societal decay in my part of this exponentially delusional, debt dependent, chaotic country. The U.S. and my corner of PA. have supposedly been in the midst of an economic recovery for the last nine years.
The government data shows a declining unemployment rate, rising GDP, non-existent inflation, record corporate profits, low interest rates leading to a growing housing market, soaring consumer confidence, and a record high stock market. In the parlance of Jim Morrison, we’ve been at the Roadhouse having a real good time. We’re gonna need more than a beer to recover from the inevitable hangover.
My suburban slice of Montgomery County is prosperous and growing, based upon demographic and economic data produced by the government. The populace is mostly upper middle class white collar families. I’ve lived in the same house for 23 years, through the 2000 internet bust, the Greenspan created housing bubble, the 2008 Wall Street created financial implosion, and the supposed nine year economic recovery. Within three miles of my house we had two strip centers with 100% occupancy in 1995. For the last eight years one center has been 90% vacant and the other 50% vacant. Office buildings built in 2005 still have numerous vacancies. Entire 600,000 sq. ft. office parks remain unoccupied, except for weeds, rodents, mold and decay.
Grand government plans for new retail outlets never materialized. Numerous gas stations have been shuttered, rotting and weed infested testaments to better times. Numerous grocery stores, locally owned restaurants, and small businesses have gone belly up during these supposed good times. Imagine what will happen during the next official recession.
This Potemkin economic recovery is buttressed by unpayable debt, Federal Reserve easy money, fudged financial industry accounting, fake economic data, endemic political corruption, and a perpetual flow of propaganda from the corporate media spigot convincing the mathematically challenged masses all is well and going into debt to keep up with the Joneses is a brilliant strategy for success. If you ignore the fake news and false rhetoric from politicians, bankers and the media, you can see the continued economic deterioration with your own eyes and your own bank account.
You can tell what our society values and supports by observing your immediate surroundings. The only construction I see are new bank branches, new medical facilities, drug stores, new fast food joints (creating the need for new medical facilities), and new government buildings. The once teetering Wall Street banking industry is alive and well due to tens of trillions funneled their way by the Fed and feckless Washington political machine.
You can’t swing a dead homeless person without hitting a Too Big To Trust Wall Street bank branch. Why do we need these monuments to greed and hubris when you can make a deposit with your smartphone, pay your bills on-line, and use your debit or credit card for every transaction? It’s insane to waste money on thousands of branches. But, when you can get your money from the Fed for free, everything looks like a good investment.
The trillions flowing out of people’s bank accounts and into the coffers of the sick industry complex have enriched these corporations to such an extent; they feel the need to build palatial complexes and numerous outlets for their “legal” drug distribution. You know an industry is rolling in dough when they build high tech glass palaces with concierge service and upscale restaurants, to service sick people.
Those Obamacare premiums and insurance payments are going somewhere, and even after paying the corporate executives their obscene salaries and bonuses, there is plenty left over for the construction of medical Taj Mahals and lobbying corrupt slimy snakes in congress for more. Despite the extravagance of these medical facilities, the service still sucks, a Tylenol costs $25, the physicians are barely adequate, the mis-diagnosis rate is sky high, and the staff is surly and rude.
Local politicians build themselves new grand municipal buildings, even though there are vacant office buildings out the wazoo. New Social Security Administration buildings are constructed at an astounding pace, especially in the Democrat controlled urban ghettos. New Section 8 housing estates are built with union labor on the taxpayer dime. That is the common denominator in all the new building occurring in this country.
The funds for this frenzy of banking, sick care and government construction has materialized out of thin air by a privately owned banking cabal called the Federal Reserve in conspiracy with the Deep State. This entire engineered Potemkin recovery and building boom is built on a liquefying foundation of bad debt and lies. Let it roll, baby, roll.
My little piece of suburban paradise in this failing and falling empire of debt may be decaying slowly, but my daily commute into the putrid, dilapidated, crumbling ghetto killing field called Philadelphia is a different matter. This corrupt liberal bastion of unfunded government pensions, outrageously high taxes, overpriced union labor, criminal Democrat politicians, dreadful public schools, potholes that could swallow a small car, crumbling infrastructure, murder, mayhem, and an enslaved underclass of welfare dependent minorities, is much further along the track to collapse. This city has pockets of prosperity, but its death rattle is unmistakable. The decay is too far gone and debt too large to realistically reverse course, even if there was a will to do so – which there is not.
My week in Colorado further clarified my view the American empire is in decline, but it is a cascading decline with regions and cities at various stages of collapse. My relatively rural suburban enclave is probably fifty percent of the way there. Philadelphia is eighty percent of the way there. Colorado only appears to be twenty five percent of the way there. I would ponder much of the western U.S., excluding the liberal bastions in California and Washington State, is also further from collapse than the heavily urbanized debt burdened northeastern U.S.
Driving up I-25 to Fort Collins, down to Colorado Springs and west to Boulder and Breckinridge, presented a fairly broad view of the greater Denver area. The most conspicuous aspect of Colorado, from my perspective, is the vast picturesque expanse of open space as far as the eye can see. Every direction seems to be framed by snow-capped Rocky Mountains. It’s the diametric opposite to my daily commute through the 30 Blocks of Squalor in West Philly.
The beauty of the Colorado landscape is somewhat obscured by a seemingly never ending proliferation of retail malls along the entire expanse of I-25. They all look alike, bathed in a beige sandstone design. The malls are populated by the same national retail chains inhabiting the ghost malls on the east coast. They are still constructing new malls, something not done on the east coast for years.
It seems there are still a significant number of people with disposable income in Colorado. Their labor participation rate has actually increased as their unemployment rate has fallen. The plunge in the participation rate has produced fake unemployment levels on the east coast. From that perspective Colorado is in better shape than most of the country.
You can’t help but notice the weed dispensaries sprinkled across the countryside. The legalization of marijuana has certainly had a short term economic benefit, as it has generated jobs and a massive inflow of tax revenue into government coffers. The longer term negative impact is revealing itself by the inordinate amount of homeless addicts in downtown Denver, at interstate off-ramps, under bridge overpasses in Boulder, and loitering in public parks in college towns like Fort Collins. The seeds of collapse are already planted. The influx of liberals fleeing California and the east coast are already indoctrinating a formerly conservative self-reliant state with socialist, feminist, and nanny state philosophies. This was borne out by Hillary’s narrow victory in 2016.
The infrastructure is not in a state of disrepair. Instead of trash and garbage along its interstates, there are clean-up crews picking up tumbleweeds. Everything still has that new smell feel. You just don’t see dilapidated structures. There are no potholes. Stop lights always function. Traffic is heavy at peak times, but not gridlocked. With the best ski resorts, awe inspiring tourist attractions (Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks), the majestic Rockies, growing economy, lack of government pension liabilities, and the weed industry, Colorado will sustain itself far longer than the Democrat run putrefying urban ghettos on the east coast. Make no mistake, the American empire is in the midst of a cascading collapse, and it will reach Colorado eventually.
If ever the lyrics “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near” were more applicable, it would be this past week. The stock market plunged by almost 1,300 points (no tweets from Trump taking credit), Trump accelerated his trade war with the world, he replaced a warmongering general with a warmongering neocon psychopath, the first quarter GDP estimate continued to decline to below 2%, a bunch of useful idiots were manipulated by Soros, Bloomberg and other liberal billionaires to protest against their own rights, and Trump topped it off by stabbing his supporters in the back by signing a bloated Democrat/RINO $1.3 trillion spending bill funding left wing priorities while ignoring everything he supposedly stands for. The Deep State either has pictures, or he is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing with no moral compass or desire to fulfill the agenda he ran on. It was a profoundly disappointing week for Trump supporters, even as the financial markets and economy show unequivocal cracks.
As we enter the second half of this Fourth Turning, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the specific events which will propel us towards its climax. We do know the events will be driven by the three catalysts of debt, civic decay, and global disorder. We’ve breached the $21 trillion national debt level, with Trump’s new budget poised to blast through $22 trillion in less than a year. The $200 trillion of unfunded liabilities looms in the foreseeable future. Corporate debt stands at an all-time high. Consumer debt stands at an all-time high. Global debt approaches $200 trillion. The coming financial dislocation will blow this powder keg of debt sky high. Matches are being lit on a daily basis.
Civic decay accelerates as gun grabbing left wing billionaires attempt to disarm the deplorables before the real conflict arrives. The Deep State wages war against the insurrection within their swamp. Surveillance agencies commit acts of treason. The Constitution is shit upon by those in power. An ongoing coup against the sitting president proceeds unabated. The citizens are treated as sheep being led to slaughter.
The few critical thinking dissenters are treated as criminals for exercising their First Amendment rights. The social media conglomerates, acting as the eyes and ears of the Deep State, lure the masses into willingly sacrificing their private information. There will be no compromise. The animosity between right and left has reached civil war levels. There is no middle. This will be a fight to the finish.
Trump has surrounded himself with neo-con war mongering philistines, while provoking nuclear powers, and embroiling our military in unwinnable conflicts across the Middle East. Trade wars, whether warranted or not, will ratchet up the intensity and antagonism. The Muslim hordes invading Europe are already provoking a political uprising across the continent. The North Korea problem is far from solved. Politicians across the globe facing unsolvable domestic issues will turn to foreign conflict as a way to distract the masses. Once the Rubicon is crossed the law of unintended consequences will rear its ugly head. The future of humanity hinges on the push of a button. Do you trust the current lot of feeble minded sociopaths to do the right thing?
The future may be uncertain but the end is always near. Within the next decade the future will be revealed. I believe we are headed for harder times. There is no going back to better days. Trump is the catalyst for conflict, both domestic and international. He will not save this nation. It will be up to individuals across the land. It’s time to mentally, physically, and financially prepare for the bitter winter ahead. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel. In the meantime, follow Jim Morrison’s advice and get yourself a beer.