Friday, April 04, 2008

Predictions coming true

Some years ago, I predicted that "asset stripping" - the dismantling of derelict suburban real estate - will become a major component in the post-collapse American economy. And so it has; with some houses worth less than their copper pipes, it is a matter of time before the copper is rescued and emigrates to a new life in China or India. Once the copper pipes are torn out, the value of these houses becomes negative, in effect creating an anti-house - a structure that begs to be demolished. As with matter and antimatter, without municipal efforts at antimatter containment, such anti-houses will react with neighboring houses in a reaction of mutual self-annihilation, leveling entire neighborhoods. (An interesting and worthwhile experiment from the municipal point of view would be to demolish these anti-houses and to use the freed-up land to establish community gardens.)

And now it appears that state governments are starting to act on one of the planks in the Collapse Party Platform: whittling away at the prison population in a controlled manner, ahead of time, instead of in a chaotic general amnesty:

By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer Thu Apr 3, 7:21 PM ET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Lawmakers from California to Kentucky are trying to save money with a drastic and potentially dangerous budget-cutting proposal: releasing tens of thousands of convicts from prison, including drug addicts, thieves and even violent criminals. [More...]

(Research hat tip to Niklas.) The follow-through will probably be far less constructive than desired: instead of simply continuing to provide the former inmates with free room and board, but on the outside, and therefore much more cheaply, and instead of decriminalizing drugs, the misguided and defeated disciplinarians of the criminal justice system will make futile efforts to carefully supervise them and attempt to reintegrate them into the crumbling official economy, engineering a crime wave in the process. (Another interesting and worthwhile experiment would be to lay off the criminal justice workers first, especially the ones in drug enforcement, and to observe just how effectively that reduces crime, counterintuitive though that would be to most.)


Anonymous said...

I am a European reader who has only recently discovered your fascinating blog. How do you see the coming collapse affecting my continent? Will we escape the worst effects, even perhaps exploit the weakness of the USA, and/or get there ourselves, maybe a little later?

Anonymous said...

Asset Stripping is here to stay and expanding. In New Jersey Asset Strippers are going after contruction sites and cell towers for scrap metal. Good blog and I wish you well with Reinventing Collapse which of course I will read. I also agree with you about letting non-violent prisoners out of prison and jail so as to save money and keep an eye on the violent criminals. Neil Lori

Rashakor said...


That is actually a very interesting question... Europe is probably far better off in this. They did not pawned their riches in useless suburban development most of their industries are still on solid ground (they still exist). However America still has space and natural ressources... that would maybe be a wash...

Anonymous said...

Locally, salvage and stripping operations are growing.
A large brand new 'recycling center' (metal salvage yard) opened just in the last year in an formerly abandoned industrial compound down next to the train tracks, and 'Sanford and Son' style vehicles (remember the old Red Foxx show?) are now seen regularly plying around town, tearing down old trailers, gutting empty houses, and hauling anything with metal content back to the yard, from bed frames to hot water heaters to electrical wiring and ductwork.
Quite an enterprise, and definitely one with a future in the near term.
Four similar operations are already at work in the next (much more rundown and post-industrial) town over.

Definitely signs of the times. Great post, Mr. Orvlov

Anonymous said...

This dismantling will encourage the proliferation of a police surveilance network.

And it may eventually criminalize the scrap and salvage yards for any use except liscensed, bonded, contract demolition companies.

The Rogue Columnist said...

I wonder if you'd consider me for your blogroll? I find your work fascinating, and much of my stuff might be of interest to your readers. Thanks for considering it.

Ricardo Parker said...


This last weekend I read your material on the link below, which I found fascinating.

I grew up in Brazil and lived there till I was 19, always upset with our social situation and wanting to move to a "better country" like the US. What most fascinates me about your writing is how similar Brazilian life is to the one you describe in Russia/former SU. If anything is different it is this: in Brazil people don't deal with cold weather because it's a tropical country.

Your writing has shown me that in essence people are all the same. I totally believe that if circumnstances were different in America, and resources were scarce, that Americans might perhaps have a similar behavior. My dad never let us throw away food, for example (having starved in his life even as a child). In the US we are so wasteful: just go to Las Vegas and see how much fresh good food those hotels throw in the trash daily.

I look forward to reading your blog (here), and you're upcoming book. I hope you continue speaking your mind. You have a lot of good things to offer. I also agree that the number of prisoners in the US should be reduced. All people make mistakes and prisons have never been a solution - especially when society cannot afford them. Enough with the oppression by the powers that be.

Anonymous said...

Well, here in America we do everything ass-backwards anyway. I'd rather more Americans stumble into the Collapse Party than not make it in at all. I'm finding enough recruits in my little town to start a local third party. People here nod in agreement. People in the suburb I work in look at me like I have two heads.