Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From prognosticator to witness

I haven't been posting of late, mostly because I feel that my job is more or less done. I called it as I saw it, and, unfortunately, I seem to have called it correctly. The US is collapsing before our eyes. Stage 1 collapse is very advanced now; stages 2 and 3 are picking up momentum. I might have more to say later. In the meantime, here is a guest post from a nurse in Michigan. He does not wish to be identified.

With the decline of one of the last vestiges of our manufacturing base, the auto industry, Detroit and the surrounding areas are described as "ground zero" for the meltdown that has been occurring. Places that just a few years ago seemed like icons -- various restautants, movie theaters -- are being shut down and boarded up. Meijers, Walmarts, Target are all cutting back their employees' hours and making them work 32 hours a week instead of 40. Christmas sales are down this year, and retailers are just about giving their stuff away. There are rumors that many will further cut their already worried employees, and that others will go bankrupt.

In the last few years, roughly half of my neighborhood has gone up for foreclosure, and I live in a middle class neighborhood. I am still haunted my the memory of a neighbor down the street driving away with her 3 children, tears streaming down her face. She was a victim of the auto layoffs. I learned later that she stated that she had nowhere to go. Just a few months ago, the street was alive with the sound of children playing. Then the streets became silent. Homes that went up for sale are just sitting there, not being sold.

Many others are moving back in with parents, relatives, friends or family. Those who do not have such resources head for the homeless shelters, which, like the soup kitchens here, are bursting at the seams. Many people, when asked, will state with utter despair that they never thought they would have been in this predicament just a few months ago.

People who commit crimes do not want to leave jail. This is a first, to prefer prison over cold and hunger. Of those unemployed that do not prefer prison life, they will do just about anything to earn a dollar. There were stories on the local news last night about these people standing out in the frigid cold suffering from frostbite for a mere $40 to hold a "going out of business" sign for yet another store going belly-up. Other women whom I had met on the net and dated in my single years (my happy years) are degenerating from once happy and secure ladies to ones full of anguish and despair. Some are begging people to let them clean their houses, some are even thinking about selling themselves. There has been a large increase in prostitution in this area.

Local, country, and state governments are scaling back. I have noticed that it takes them what seems like forever to clear the highways after the recent snow storm. The medians along the highways are starting to look like they do in Iraq: cars spun out into ditches and medians, and abandoned.

I am one of the few who still has a job, as a nurse. Employers are developing a sadistic mentality: if you have a job, you had better work harder, or else you are out the door! Meanwhile, broke state governments are strapped for funds are doing everything they can to "regulate" our jobs, making an already hard and stressful job next to impossible.

In sum, things are bad and about to get much worse. Mr. Orlov is 100% on the money in my book.


ExRanger said...

Fellow Michigander,
I know exactly what you mean. I work for GM in Lansing, Mich but live an hour out in the sticks. Things have not gotten too bad out in the country yet but in Lansing you can tell how bad things are. One thing that does concern me is if the farmers are going to be able to get loans this spring so they can plant. Most of them need credit to make it happen and the way the credit is frozen up some of them may well not be able to plant. Thanks for the post and take care.

Anonymous said...

I was interested in the comment in the story that women are turning to prostitution as a way out of the consequences of the on-going collapse. This quote from an article by Spengler in Asia Times Online (www.atimes.com)seems to sum it up:
"What is it that persuades women to employ their bodies as an instrument of commerce, rather than as a way of achieving motherhood? It is not just poverty, for poor women bear children everywhere. Prostitution is a form of psychic suicide; writ large, it is a manifestation of the national death-wish, the hideous recognition that the world no longer requires Ukrainians or Moldovans."
And now, Americans.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: are you referring to this article?: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK21Ak01.html It is a pretty interesting article, it gives yet another measure of collapse.

yooper said...

I cannot agree more of your assessment of the Detroit area. I've just recently have traveled there to photograph the devastation of the inner city and surrounding neighborhoods. I look foward of presenting my project, "Catablic Collapse: Detroit, Michigan", in the new of the year.


Thanks, yooper

Anonymous said...

What's necessary now, besides absorbing the reality as it is, and it is dire, is to realize that countries don't sink. The land will be there and so will people. Once you realize that institutions will do nothing for you, or at least nothing much, the path is cleared for popular initiative. At least, it is cleared psychologically... By the way, what on earth is television doing? They are increasingly concentrating on gossip. A parallel world, to be sure.

I wish everyone a good year. Let's get to work. Don't give up. Countries don't sink, only institutions do!

The North Coast said...

The salient fact of the collapse of Detroit, not to mention our entire US economy, could have been predicted in the early 80s, when we began to be overly reliant on natural resources from other countries, and began to live seriously beyond our means.

The 80s saw many losses in terms of standard of living, but these were disguised by the willingness of the larger population to borrow ever more heavily to finance the lifestyles that were affordable before 1975. That was when real wages began to deteriorate, savings fell to close to zero, and more people ran up ever larger debts relative to their means as our manufacturing sector disappeared and was replaced by the bogus "service" economy.

That was when financial scams began to be the engine of "growth", furthered by our government's willingness to bail out participants when the scams fell apart.

Detroit is merely the canary in the coal mine. ST. Louis and Milwaukee won't be far behind, and real estate-dependent places like Miami are unraveling rapidly.

Places like California will be far worse and much more disorderly, for they've been able to Play Pretend much longer and have lived much larger on much more fake money. Additionally, they are overcrowded and have higher operating costs to begin with, due to having to import so much of essential resources such as water. Worst of all, their populations, unlike that of Detroit and ST. Louis, have ludicrously elevated expectations and a very bloated sense of entitlement.

For Detroit has learned, somewhat, to square with adversity, which is something that people in the more 'golden' areas of the country have eliminated from their vocabulary.

That's the scariest part of the potential collapse of the U.S.- we are not the population that is prepared for adversity and scarcity. We're accustomed to getting our lives spoon-fed to us, and most people out here are NOT going to be cheerful or resourceful in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Admin said...

The blog


is a good illustration to what has been said in this post. Some stories actually echo what Mr. Orlov wrote in his book about the post-apocaliptic world. This one, for example:


Perhaps what's been happening in Detroit in connection with the dying auto-industry gives us an idea what may happen to the rest of the US?

Anonymous said...

Things not too bad here in the "woodburbs" of south central NH. A little grumbling at the corner store but a local gift shop owner said she was having a great season. Ice storm was amazing. My village faired relatively well but at height of electrical outages were lines out the local Mc Donalds door and police directing traffic at only gas station open in area. Last spring I saw more gardens go in than ever in my and piles of firewood steadily grew over the year. Expect more of same this year.

thanks Dmitry, have read you for years and amazing that a year back friends considered me a total crackpot when I quoted you and now they listen. copied your oil drum article to pass around the holiday festivities

Anonymous said...

While all this is true, the high-tech industry is brewing a new revolution, the Mobile revolution. The US has huge economic horse power in this field: Microsoft, Apple, Google. We will see an explosion of sophisticated Mobile computers, which will enough growth to keep the economy going for another couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Re: high tech/Mobile Revolution

Sorry - You can't eat technology.

Reminds me of the cartoon of the large airliner at the gas pump, which was drying up and empty, with the caption of "Fill 'er up, with....er, technology."

Anonymous said...

I've panhandled for the first time, in the past 6 months. It's been my living for the past 4 or so. I'm a female, very gay, so prostitution is sort of out of the question for me, I suppose hand jobs would be OK with me, but I doubt there will be a shortage of those in th hard times coming, most anyone will be willing to do that for a buck. Right now I'm essentially living off of a girlfriend out here in Steinbeck country, serious farming area which is good, but it's going to be bad all over. I'm the "hosuewife" right now, pretty funny for a Butch, but I am a ship-shape tidy-up type of person, and it works. That and what odd jobs I can round up, crafts I can make and sell 30 miles away in Santa Cruz, etc will hold up my end. California still has lots of people paying $35 for lunch, and the panhandling's still good, but this will not last. I look forward to being useful however I can, once I get the grounds around here in shape I want to get some food plants in the ground and get a good pellet gun and a good .22 to harvest what the food plants are good for - the small game that comes to eat 'em! Plus learn to make use of natural foods like the abundance of acorns here etc. GF and I both know "poquito" Spanish and I'm all for learning more - people who are one generation if that off of the farm in Parts South are a strength.

Anonymous said...

One thing to remember about Detroit is that while hitching the regions fortunes to one badly managed industry was idiotic, it's not the sole reason for the area's demise. SE Michigan is a patchwork of tiny, competing jurisdictions, a legacy of the Northwest Ordinance. Since the '67 riots, the only time that any of them cooperated in any meaningful way on anything was when they were united against the central city (read:blacks). Of course, lots of black politicians in Detroit proper have built careers out of hostility to the white suburbs.

I was born in Detroit, and I'm (temporarily) back there now. I can't get over this: In my childhood, during the 60's, it was one of the great centers of wealth in the world. Now it's reverting to pasture. Meanwhile, I've been in Warsaw Poland, which was absolutely destroyed in the war. I don't know if one can say Warsaw "thrives" today, but it certainly functions.

Are there any other examples of major cities evaporating like Detroit in the absence of plague or conquest?
-- sglover

madaral said...

Technology you cannot eat, true. But the Sun is still shining, food is growing, and there is still oil for fertilization and transportation. Oil is even cheap for now. Why did the price go down so much? Why did it not go up and up, as you expected?

Learn from the physics of phase transitions. Phase transitions come with big fluctuations. The prices went up too fast because of financial speculation. Then the high prices caused a financial crash precisely because of the speculative aspect of the financial market, and the oil prices dived.

The next phase will see new growth with a better founded financial system that will be able to sustain higher oil prices than before (nothing changed, we are running out and growth causes increased demand). A spur of new technology will do the trick. After that, the story might repeat itself. In the end we will arrive at the other side of the transition. The fluctuations will end, economic growth will end, and social horror will ensue.

Anonymous said...

I think the hopes in technology are misplaced when it comes to fixing the oil problem, which remains despite the temporary dive in prices.

While scarcity is probably the stupidest and most harmful assumption in economics, it is not stupid to assume oil scarcity. It is a physical fact. What is needed, in my opinion, is labor-intensive production, not a magical technological fix. People need work. You can't keep people idle and expect anything other than a lot of trouble. Even if you were to feed them and house them for free, which would be possible even easy, by ending the wars and cutting military spending, people still need something to do, they need to feel useful.

As to the collapse of "the system", I think it is incorrect to equate it with the collapse of capitalism. As Braudel points out in his three-volume history, the most prominent feature of capitalism is its adaptability. It will reshape itself, though the current lifestyles associated with it in countries like the United States will almost certainly disappear or change beyond recognition.

There is an interesting article by Immanuel Wallerstein on this very subject. I think it hits the target, at least partially.

In case anyone is interested,here is the link:


No matter what you think of the Kondratieff cycle, Wallerstein's observations are pertinent, I think.

Kathy "Peak Shrink" McMahon said...

Sorry to lose your more frequent updates, Dimitry, but I know what you mean about having said it all.

Disbelief, then shock, then praying that it was "something they did" that caused the heartache of lost jobs or foreclosed houses. Those directly affected have a "leper" quality to them.

It will be a long, cold winter...

Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree with the technology thing. The reason being is that too many people are holding back on spending for anything other than necessities and technology items like mobile computing systems are not necessary.

To me a mobile computing platform is not much different from an iPod. Just another piece of techno garbage that would have been important had it not been for the need to pay rent and put food on the table.

Retail sales are falling through the floor because people aren't willing or aren't able to get the credit necessary to buy buy buy STUFF.

Jon said...

Dmitri, is this person credible? He forecasts a collapse in the US in 2010. You and I will be living in the new "Atlantic America."



Dmitry Orlov said...

Jon -

Panarin is not alone. Khazin has been saying the same thing for a long time:


All these voices are becoming louder now.

Khazin made a point in an interview a while ago that amazed me - and here I was thinking I´ve heard it all! He said that during the oil crisis of the 70s the USSR had all but won the Cold War, and a question was put before the Politburo: should the USSR deal the coup de grace? The answer that came back from the specialists was "no". The USSR lacked the ability to exercise effective political and economic control over the entire globe. The USSR needed the USA. And so the USSR agreed to engage in détente, turned up the oil taps, started a grain import program, and, in the final analysis, doomed itself in the process.

Well, what a difference a few decades make: the USSR is no more, and so no longer needs the USA to counterbalance it.

The word "credible" can be varously defined, and there is something to be said for being "incredible" -- just another vox clamantis in interneto. The moment we become authoritative, we become a threat to the status quo, and then our little free speech zone will be no more.

Anonymous said...

Fellow Travelers,
Spent a day at the Eastern Market in Detroit last Saturday selling premium grass fed beef and lamb. Quite a place, take a look if you get down town. Netted $150 so I guess there is still some money down town. D3 (from the French De Toi "the three" rivers) is quite a place still. Huge foot print by urban standards and lost half it's population. Got a fire fighter killed a few months ago when an abandoned house fell in on him and his crew. A few hold on, but it will not rise as a unit to it's former greatness. It might make a good second wave city though, lots of coastline, salvage to be had, desperation leading to creativity as well as despair. I herd about fruit trees being planted and gardens. Civility is said to follow; we have been down for a while here in MI so might as well be nice to one and other for now. It's really not a surprise anymore when the ongoing project I refer to as "Fuck Michigan" carries on. We know we're the only hope for saving ourselves, the feds are too busy felating those swine in NY who shoved us over the edge with their "innovative financial instruments". I'm over on the west side of the state where we have watched as ripples from the D3 automakers kick the crap out of their supply chain, every 1 job at the D3 3 supports 6 in the supply chain. We hope and pray for a transition to the technology of the future, Cascade Engineering building wind turbines, Dow Corning makes Silicon for PV panels, Johnson Controls works on the batteries for the cars of the "future". We have a good agriculture sector, Second only to California in diversity. It needs too much fuel and artificial nitrogen, but there are some work arounds if you can get them to listen (Lord knows I try in spite of the threats to my continued employment). So here we are, awaiting yet another chapter of sorrow. I herd some stupid @#$%& on the radio describe my home state as "Dead" yesterday. Hell with that. The tough and the stuck hung on, we are far from dead. Out here in the sticks with ExRanger, my well armed hillbilly, queer and Mexican neighbors; we plan to last a bit longer. We're not so far from the ground compared to most; we'll land on our feet, not our knees. I will hold my people up, I suggest the rest of you do the same. Ain't no body coming you want to see, though I'm open to some genuine leadership from DC. History talks of a lightweight governor from New York who saved our bacon in 32...
MPL deep in the sticks on a road to nowhere. Fennville MI
Join us at peakoilmidwest@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

It all seems so sad. Or, perhaps it IS really sad. Would someone with a shred of credibility tell me why it's illegal to commit suicide? And compare and contrast why smoking marijuana deserves a life sentence while robbing citizens blind is rewarded with a Senatorial position? Can't the government who hates the poor at least let us die without pain?

If there is a god, send his ass to help me fill out my will, then let me go. And send the angels to distribute my books and whatnot. Sixty years of constant pain must surely be karma--was I Hitler? Nixon?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dmitry,

Please don't quit your blog! I just found you 2 months ago. I bought your book for my adult children. You have great insight that is vital right now!

As people lose their jobs and see how far down the collapse spectrum we are, they will be reading and studying more than ever. Your perspective will be more important than ever!

Please post at least a little something now and then, especially what you and your readers are doing, such as the Philippines relocater. It must seem pointless and depressing to you, but to those of us out here, it's encouraging and hopeful! More please!

Have you heard of former HUD administrator Catherine Austin Fitts and Solari (google her videos). She is working with traditional permaculturists in TN to create 'financial permaculture' principles. Very exciting!

Folks, we have the greatest opportunity of the last 100 years to create local economies from scratch, provided we don't panic nor allow Big Govt to take over. (see the Detroit grass-fed-meat seller post! You rock!)

Unfortunately public and Big-Govt fear reactions are big scary unknowns and will vary greatly from region to region. Disarm the fear! Become the most-educated person in your area and get to work! Keep an eye out for increasing police-military presence and complain loudly at any loss of freedom.

Get talking with friends, neighbors, town councils, etc. and be ready with some answers! Time for all you 'workers' (I hate that term) to become entrepeneurs. Get a cadre of friends and associates together who have practical skills. A small group can be fully equipped, all you need is time to work it out!

Mrs. B in AZ

Anonymous said...

Dmitry! Why do you have nothing on YouTube?

So hey, videotape a short version of the 5 stages and get it put up there! Start your own channel or check out george4title -- This guy lost his high-paying real estate job 3 months ago in SoCal and now he's extolling the virtues of no job! Very cool transition. He and his friends discovered home cooking! (grin)

C'mon Dimitry get out there and cheer up!!!

Mrs. B. in AZ

Anonymous said...

I think the key here is that you can't do it alone. All they taught you about rugged individualism... those guys knew nothing. On one side of the scale put thousands of years of wisdom, basic wisdom, and the success that survival is... and on the other some idea, a recent idea, that you should do it all alone and if not, you're a "failure". I think the scale tips towards what the old guys taught.

There are people despairing here, but if they join others they will feel better and they will be able to act. That is what's needed now. No obligation to abstract ideas: the main obligation is putting bread on the family table. Which by the way, is another piece of old wisdom.

Dmitry has explained this in a most clear and practical way. People should read his book. And they should associate with anybody with whom they can share something. In other words, no emphasis on differences. It's not the time for that.

I wish readers a great year, without any irony.

madaral said...

Regarding "innovative financial instruments".

In truth, these "instruments" are total hoaxes, but as they were believed by so many, their falsehood gained a level of truth. The booming Nasdaq financed a lot of creativity. At the end of the day, it brought us down prematurely, before peak-oil would have done the same. There is a blessing in this. We now know what will be, with a rebound in the offing, and thus a chance to prepare. The sharp fall enables future growth that otherwise could not have been anymore. Though fundamentally the time of growth is over, there will yet be growth because the fall is overshooting. The growth is motored by the technological currents set in motion when Nasdaq was bubbling. These currents are real though, and must express themselves, and lead to growth. Some of the lost money will return. I estimate that it will give us three years to prepare survival.

UncommonBusiness said...

Happy New Year, Comrad Orlov! Keep doing what you are doing, your blog rocks, your book is awesome, I just wish times weren't as shitty as they are about to get.

Anonymous said...


Look forward to your photographs. I recall driving through Detroit last year on I-75 and being diverted onto a detour through the city. We observed a 30 story building that appeared to be an older structure but it had been gutted and you could peer right through. Eerie...

I'm a former MI resident that occasionally returns for visits to friends and family but it's getting more depressing each time back. Good luck all...

Concord, MA

yooper said...

Thanks Russian President! You've saved me a great deal of time searching for this site...

Thanks Chris, I'm starting the series now..

Thanks, yooper

Anonymous said...

Just to point out an extraordinary article by James Quinn on economics and the Situation published by Prudent Bear:


Don't miss it!

Anonymous said...

Neil Lori writes: Dmitry Orlov, Jim Kunstler and other out of the box thinkers were right on the money. I never questioned their motives or integrity.

America is now about to become a 3rd rate power and a 3rd world country due to corporatists, corporatism, conformity and a largely illiterate and obese nation of tv watching and soda slurping fattig sluns aka fat elephants. We need to get back to local farming, gardening and living.

Neil Lori Greenhawk Patriots of Montclair NJ misses Dmitry's blog a lot!!!!!!!

Unknown said...

I live in Vermont, a place in which one cannot afford to pay a Vermont mortgage on a Vermont salary. I have to work out of state just to keep the roof over our heads.

There's a personality cult around this machine politician from the Midwest, Obama, so I'm waiting for folks to emerge from their stupor. Maybe when they notice that people are freezing in the dark.

My avowedly apolitical wife is from the former Soviet Union, and dispises personality cults and the current turn of political events with a ferocity that surprised me greatly... in the nine years that I've known her she has consistently refused to get into any political discussion, until now. I think that means something. My efforts to learn woodcraft with the old tools, beekeeping and the like, seem to give her some hope.

michigan native said...

Just an update to my original post.

The stores that boarded up remain boarded up. Strip malls are being wiped out, I suspect not (yet) from a lack of access to imports, but because of a loss of people's purchasing power. With incomes being wiped out by higher fines, fees, direct or hidden taxes, and other forms of legalized robbery being perpetrated bu local, county, and state governments in a vain, futile, and undignified effort to keep the ship bouyant, discretionary income (money leftover after the essentials of life are paid) are being wiped out along with the standard of living here and now around the country.

At one of the places where I work (I have taken 2 full time jobs in what I cannot decide is a wise or a senseless effort to get out of debt), the x-mas choir people, in a truly benevolent and kind gesture, went down the halls....echoes of "tis the season to be jolly, fa lalala, etc made me think of the band playing on the Titanic while it was sinking.

The demeanor of the cops and the "forces of law and order" have changed. When people wipe out into the medians, they no longer seem concerned if the motorist was hurt or injured, but rather, if they have insurance or expired tags on their license plates. Like starving wolves, they seem eager to prey on anyone who takes their eyes off the speedometer or hits an ice patch to gain revenue for chronically broke local, county, and state governments

I believe the latest statistics are that one in five in Michigan live at or below the poverty level, and 30-40% of people in Detroit are at or below the poverty level, tragically, most of them children. The city of Detroit closed like 20 schools, the city of Hamtrammack filed for bankruptcy because it cannot meet the payroll for their employees, and other cities, strapped for revenue are imposing Draconian/sadistic fines for such crap as setting your trash out too early, not removing the cans by a specified time, or having a boat or snowmobile parked in your driveway (when they can't screw people for that, I suspect the new laws will be 10 years wages lost for your driveway being wet after a rainstorm, and if you can't pay, after they take your vouchers f9r heat, electricity, or a block of cheese, the jack booted thugs will kick your doors in and forcefully extract an eyeball, kidney, or other vital organ for the Halliburton organ market, for auction to the highest bidder

michigan native said...

The Michigan legislature, being ever so sympathetic to the people they are supposed to represent, like the cops and "forces of law and order", have responded in a predictable manner. Higher taxes, fines, fees, "license" renewals.

I heard on a local radio show about some "driver responsibility act", which imposes a series of fines on an ever increasing number of people who cannot afford "car insurance". Following the lead of other broke states, they are reportedly talking about making prisoners pay for their stay in jail. With no jobs available and a criminal record of their hands, the possiblility of rehabilitating these people and intregating them into society is all but gone, and with chronic budget shortfalls due to an ever eroding tax base, these "career criminals" will likely face mounting "curbside justice", as people grow tired of funding a revolving door for those who have no other means to get by.

Being late for work can now cost your life http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/09/national/main5147200.shtml Other articles stated the young man had "beat" the train a day or so before because he was terrified that being 'late' for work would cost him his job at a local super market stocking shelves.

The "you can't pay, so you go without" ideology has recently cost two potential life saving organ transplant receivers in Arizona their lives due to state budget cutbacks, just before the latest mass shooting. Previously I read an article where poor Hispanic children were being pucked from the "hot lunch" lines in New Mexico because their parents could not pay. Not illegal immigrants, these kids were ostracized and given the 'alternative', a piece of cheese between 2 slices of bread, a carton of milk, and a small piece of fruit. We apparentlty are not beyond stealing food from the mouths of babies

Things are no better here. A elderly man with dementia died of hypothermia because the 'utility' companies decided to shut his heat off because he had not paid his bills. They found the elderly man with several layers of clothing and dollar bills attached to his overdue heating bills. No charges were pressed against the gas company by the then 'liberal' governor, Jennifer Granholm http://www.ripoffreport.com/government-worker/bay-city-electric-li/bay-city-electric-light-power-2pmbm.htm

Detroit and the surrounding suburbs are looking like war zones. The nightmare is just beginning. Ben Bernake is speeding up his money printing press, and other countries like china, russia, and brazil are dumping the dollar in their bilateral trade. As these measures devaluate the once almighty dollar, the stage is being set for the beginning of the end of cheap or free energy and thus the acceleration of the commercial collapse. A point of no return in 2011, 2012 at the latest