Saturday, December 21, 2013

More on Collapse

In response to our recent posts on collapse [one, two], a correspondent writes,

"Societies collapse because the elites spend the society's reserves for depreciation and innovation to get more power to steal more luxuries for themselves. The elite are cargo cultists. They do not understand the machine that brings them wealth, so they cannot maintain it. And they will kill or intimidate anyone who suggests a real solution. The result is that any solutions publicly offered are soothing non-solutions. Anyone who offers a real solution has to flee to exile. [Snowden himself says,] 'These [NSA] programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.'"
And, in response to the Augustine's Laws post,
There are two key reasons why the US still flies warplanes from the 50s, 60s and 70s. There will never be a bomber raid again on the capitol of a first-class power by a first-class power. As Vladimir Putin said, Russia would use nuclear weapons to respond to any attack on Russia. This demotes bombers and fighters to second-class weapons to attack fuzzie-wuzzies who have no air force.

The second reason is that there is no benefit to further improvements. It used to take six weeks for a tiny sailing ship to cross the Atlantic. Eventually, it took 14 days for a luxury liner to cross. Then it took 20 hours for the first multi-engine aircraft to cross. Next, it took 7 hours for a 747 to cross. Cutting the crossing time from 6 weeks to 7 hours was a 144-fold improvement, not counting the vast difference in death rate between sailing and riding a 747. The improvement from one to the other was like the improvement from cold, wet and staring to three hots and a cot. Any further improvement would be like the progression from a one-star restaurant to a four-star restaurant, in a region of the cost-benefit curve where the cost to benefit ratio approaches infinity.

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