Taxes? Not for this group…

With all this talk about Obama’s cabinet members not paying taxes, I decided to list some tax data from the city of Philadelphia provided by a very awesome site (founded by a regular citizen) called HallWatch.org.

Notes

  • These records come from the Philadelphia Department of Revenue. Hallwatch is not responsible for the accuracy of the Revenue Dept.’s records. They are current as of December 5, 2008

Top 50 Corporations

Rank Owner Total due Total properties
1 SEPTA $17,810,789.80 97
2 AMTRAK $11,149,369.61 16
3 CITY OF PHILA $7,687,280.98 1,077
4 PHILADELPHIA INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT $5,839,163.34 64
5 REDEV AUTH OF PHILA $4,270,538.26 786
6 REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PHILA $2,953,829.84 531
7 ROMAN PHILADELPHIA PROPERTY L P $2,550,668.32 1
8 CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION $1,666,831.13 23
9 UNIVERSITY OF PENNATRUSTEES $1,291,986.84 14
10 READING CO $1,290,981.02 20
11 $1,087,857.60 300
12 READING REAL ESTATECO $1,026,783.24 15
13 RHA PHILA NURSING $966,828.33 1
14 LOGAN ASSISTANCE CORP $716,683.77 485
15 PA COMMONWEALTH OF DOT $678,998.35 8
16 SCHWARTZ M & CO INC $637,327.08 7
17 REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF THE CITY $633,902.00 101
18 NHS 11 PROPERTIES LLC $552,684.51 6
19 GM IRON WORKS INC $537,155.19 2
20 MEDLEY ELIJAH $497,744.17 3
21 18 SOUTH SEVENTH STREET ASSOCTS LP $485,733.02 1
22 UNITED MACHINE & TOOL $480,158.74 2
23 VRAJ BRIG PA LLC $470,862.37 1
24 UNI PENN HOUSING PARTNERSHIP IV $440,462.96 56
25 CONNECTING RAILWAY CO $433,593.87 4
26 WALNUT RITTENHOUSE ASSOC $415,675.62 2
27 CARRIAGE HOUSE CONDOMINIUMS LP $401,471.47 50
28 COHEN STEVE & JERRY $398,392.03 46
29 FIRST DISTRICT SELFHELP INC $388,050.75 1
30 SUFFOLK MANOR APARTMENTS LP $370,755.44 2
31 LA SALLE UNIVERSITY $366,045.77 4
32 2945 POPLAR DEVELOPMENT LLC $360,417.85 1
33 WYNNEFIELD COMMUNITYRESOURCE CENTE $353,098.57 1
34 CH PENNSYLVANIA UNDER-21 $348,868.32 4
35 PHILA HOUSING DEV CORP $343,451.94 137
36 BCA AND CHILD CARE CTR INC $342,594.40 2
37 CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORP $334,073.37 7
38 KENMAR PROP PARTNERS $329,554.04 2
39 FA INVESTMENT GROUPINC $328,610.91 3
40 GOLDEN SLIPPER ACQUISITION GROUP LP $307,136.38 1
41 NEIGHBORHOOD RESTORATIONS LTD $298,944.52 305
42 PIDC FINANCING CORPORATION $290,831.05 5
43 CITY OF PHILADELPHIA $285,468.28 99
44 GLC BREWERYTOWN DEVELOPMENTS LLC $284,186.98 33
45 1653 MEADOW STREET INC $280,563.14 3
46 SECRETARY OF HOUSINGAND URBAN DEVE $277,572.63 60
47 ZION HOUSE OF GOD HOLY CHURCH $276,871.94 3
48 WALNUT LANE INC $265,988.88 3
49 CLEM PROPERTIES INC $262,595.91 5
50 FREMPONG-ATUAHENE STEPHEN $257,314.38 21

Delinquency by Zip Code

Zip5 Neighborhood Total delinquency Delinquency count Total properties Percent
19132 North Philadephia West $40,095,047.48 9,930 20,745 47.9
19133 North Philadelphia East $13,228,014.53 6,116 14,570 42.0
19140 Nicetown $35,434,125.63 9,664 23,446 41.2
19121 Fairmount North $22,837,973.02 6,784 16,884 40.2
19139 West Market $24,920,400.99 6,072 16,414 37.0
19143 Kingsessing $40,015,334.14 9,405 25,510 36.9
19104 West Philadelphia $23,241,272.31 3,983 11,977 33.3
19131 West Park $20,004,819.58 4,938 14,988 33.0
19122 Spring Garden North $7,701,935.25 2,728 8,409 32.4
19138 Germantown East $16,915,015.91 4,067 12,771 31.9
19141 Logan $13,097,912.84 3,255 10,348 31.5
19144 Germantown $22,973,194.62 4,147 13,570 30.6
19146 Schuylkill $13,329,794.49 5,441 19,753 27.6
19134 Richmond $24,906,865.00 6,898 25,606 26.9
19126 East Oak Lane $5,118,781.94 1,248 5,071 24.6
19142 Paschall $10,422,105.78 2,796 11,393 24.5
19150 West Oak Lane $7,385,065.48 2,107 9,186 22.9
19125 Kensington $7,517,395.34 2,724 11,886 22.9
19151 Overbrook $8,799,223.21 2,341 11,369 20.6
19119 Mt. Airy $9,348,467.71 1,792 9,750 18.4

The first list shows that the big corporations running the city choose not to pay taxes. The second list shows zip codes in mostly low-income neighborhoods do not pay their taxes.

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Money 101: What you NEED to know about the Federal Reserve.

An excerpt from the website WhattoKnow.info, link to article below, 

http://www.wanttoknow.info/financialbankingcoverup

Do you know who prints the money in your wallet or purse? Take a look at the top of any U.S. bills and you will find “Federal Reserve Note” printed along the top. In a small black circle on the left side of these notes, you will read “United States Federal Reserve System.” It is the Federal Reserve which prints all bank notes in the United States. Yet who owns the Federal Reserve?

Though the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve is categorized as an independent government agency, “The Fed” is not owned by the government. In Lewis v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that “the Reserve Banks are not federal instrumentalities for purposes of the FTCA [the Federal Tort Claims Act], but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations.” To verify this fact, please see the Ninth Circuit’s decision 680 F.2d 1239 at the end of paragraph five. The same decision in paragraph 13 states, “Reserve Banks, as privately owned entities, receive no appropriated funds from Congress.”

It’s quite revealing that though the official website of the Federal Reserve contains a detailed description of the Federal Reserve that is over 20 pages in length, ownership of the Federal Reserve Banks is never even mentioned. Could it be that this information is conveniently withheld to keep the public from understanding who owns the banks which issue all U.S. dollars?

Though Federal Reserve Board members are appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate, the Federal Reserve is a privately owned institution controlled mainly by large private banks.Once board members are appointed, the U.S. government has no control over their decisions other than the president’s ability to remove a board member. Yet a study of the history and functions of the Federal Reserve reveals that powerful bankers such as J.P. Morgan have had inordinate power and control over the formation and management of the monetary policy of the United States through their power over the Fed. Congress has virtually no influence over this incredibly powerful institution.

Neither does the Fed have reserves to back all of the credit it issues. None of the money in circulation is backed by anything of real value such as gold or silver. The backing of U.S. currency by a gold standard was removedunder President Nixon in 1971. In fact, the Fed, like all banks, at any one time has only 3 to 10% of all credit issued held in reserve as bank notes. So the Federal Reserve is neither truly federal, nor a full reserve. It is not owned or directly controlled by the United States government. The fact that the words “United States Federal Reserve System” are printed on every U.S. bank note thus raises serious questions.

The foundation for the Federal Reserve system was crafted in the utmost secrecy in 1910 at the Jekyll Island resort by several powerful men with very close ties to the Rockefellers, the J.P. Morgan family, and the Rothschilds — the richest and most powerful families in the world at that time. A version of the legislation crafted eventually passed in 1913 over the objections of many who feared that turning over control of the nation’s money supply to a consortium of private bankers would inevitably only produce more riches for the ultra rich at the expense of the general public.

Virtually everyone agrees that the Fed is highly secretive. Wikipedia lists other criticisms of the Federal Reserve in the below two paragraphs:

“A large and varied group of criticisms have been directed against the Federal Reserve System. One group of criticisms, typified by the Austrian School, criticize the Federal Reserve as unnecessary and counterproductive interference in the economy. Other arguments include arguments in favor of the gold standard and criticisms of an alleged lack of accountability or culture of secrecy within the Reserve. Finally, a group of conspiracy theories make various charges against the Federal Reserve, generally claiming the Federal Reserve System is actually a scheme to enrich a few wealthy bankers at the expense of the public.”

“Economists of the Austrian School such as Ludwig von Mises contend that the Federal Reserve’s artificial manipulation of the money supply leads to the boom/bust business cycle that has occurred over the last century. Many economic libertarians … believe that the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the money supply to stop “gold flight” from England caused, or was instrumental in causing, the Great Depression.

Nobel Economist Milton Friedman said he ‘prefer[s] to abolish the federal reserve system altogether.’[13]. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Federal Reserve, stated: ‘I would like to say to Milton [Friedman] and Anna [J. Schwartz]: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.’ [22] [23]

The Fractional Reserve System: Creating Money Out of Thin Air

Another aspect of banking about which most people know little to nothing is the fractional reserve system.Fractional-reserve banking refers to the common banking practice of issuing more money than the bank holds as reserves. Banks in modern economies typically loan their customers many times the sum of the cash reserves that they hold.” Did you know that for every dollar in your checking or savings account, the bank can legally loan out $10 or more?

Here’s a description of the origins of fraction reserve banking from a standard university macroeconomics text [1]:

“When the ancients began to use gold in making transactions, it became apparent that it was both unsafe and inconvenient for consumers and merchants to carry gold and have it weighed and assessed for purity every time a transaction was negotiated. It therefore became commonplace to deposit one’s gold with goldsmiths whose vaults or strongrooms could be used for a fee. Upon receiving a gold deposit, the goldsmith issued a receipt to the depositor. Soon goods were traded for the goldsmiths’ receipts and the receipts became the first kind of paper money.

“At this point the goldsmiths – embryonic bankers – used a 100% reserve system; their circulating paper money receipts were fully backed by gold. But, given the public’s acceptance of the goldsmiths’ receipts as paper money, the goldsmiths became aware that the gold they stored was rarely redeemed. Then some adroit banker hit on the idea that paper money could be issued in excess of the amount of gold held. Goldsmiths [then began to issue] additional ‘receipts’ … into circulation by making interest-earning loans in the form of gold receipts. This was the beginning of the fractional reserve system of banking.”

The college text from which the above quote is taken does not question the propriety of goldsmiths creating these new “receipts” or money without any gold backing, without any authority, and indeed without any real reason to do so other than to enrich themselves. In fact, the text even praises the questionable behavior of the one who began this hidden form of corruption as “adroit.”

The unsuspecting public had no idea that goldsmiths were issuing paper receipts accepted as money which were backed by no gold deposits at all for ten times or more the amount of gold that had been entrusted to them. The goldsmiths were secretly creating money out of thin air. They thus made themselves fantastically wealthy without anyone noticing what was going on. In order to better hide this deceit and divert people’s attention, the goldsmiths stopped their old practice of charging for storing gold and instead began to pay customers a small interest on their gold deposits to keep them happy. Thus it was that modern day bankers were born.

Amazingly, the system has changed little today. Macroeconomics professors, college texts, and all involved with banking almost never question the ethics or morality of this fractional reserve system. No one even questions in any meaningful way the ethics and corruption involved in creating money out of thin air. In fact, the fractional reserve system was formalized into law centuries ago and continues to be both legal and the accepted common practice around the world today.

Have you ever wondered how banks can afford to own those massive buildings downtown if they are only charging 15% or so on loans and paying 5% in interest on deposits? If bankers were not allowed to create money out of thin air, they would be making only 10% or so a year on every loan they issued, far from enough to build the towering skyscrapers owned by banks in practically every major city. But by creating credit (money) using the fractional reserve system, bankers can legally claim credit to 10 times or more the amount of any loan. Now you can understand the foundation upon which global banking empires are built.

As this system has been used for centuries by every country in the world, it clearly works to maintain a relatively stable economic order. We are not in the least advocating a dramatic change of this system. We do, however, feel that suppressing and otherwise hiding this key information is a massive deception which does not serve the public and only serves to allow the bankers to easily become excessively powerful and corrupt. You can help to inform others of what is going on by educating yourself with the above videos and spreading the word on the banking and financial cover-up. Thanks for caring.
Important Related Topic: For a highly decorated U.S. General’s essay revealing huge manipulations and profiteering by major banks in wartime, click here. For a more thorough history of the development of banking and more, click here. For a top professor’s 10-page summary of the powerful role of bankers throughout history,click here. For excellent further information on this vital issue with realistic proposals for empowering change, see the American Monetary Institute’s website at http://www.monetary.org.
[1] McConnell, Campbell R. & Brue, Stanley L., Macroeconomics: Principles, Problems, and Policies, Thirteen Edition, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1996, p. 277

Leading Journalists Expose Major News Cover-ups by Media Corporations

http://www.wanttoknow.info/emailmedia

The riveting excerpts below from the revealing accounts of 20 award-winning journalists in the highly acclaimed book Into the Buzzsaw are essential reading for all who support democracy. These courageous writers were prevented by corporate ownership of the mass media from reporting major news stories. Some were even fired. These journalists have won numerous awards, including several Emmys and a Pulitzer. Help build a brighter future by spreading this news. For a two-page summary of this mass media information, click here.

Kristina Borjesson—CBS, Emmy award winner. Pierre Salinger announced on Nov. 8, 1996, that he’d received documents proving that a US Navy missile had accidentally downed TWA flight 800. That same day, FBI’s Jim Kallstrom called a press conference. At one point, a man raised his hand and asked why the Navy was involved in the investigation while a possible suspect. “Remove him!” Kallstrom yelled. Two men leapt over to the questioner and grabbed him by the arms. There was a momentary chill in the air after the guy had been dragged out of the room. Kallstrom and entourage acted as if nothing had happened. Jim Kallstrom was later hired by CBS. (pp. 290, 291)

Jane Akre—Fox NewsAfter our struggle to air an honest report on hormones in your milk, Fox fired the general manager of our station. The new GM said that if we didn’t agree to changes the lawyers were insisting upon, we’d be fired for insubordination. We pleaded with him to look at the facts we’d uncovered. His reply: “We paid $3 billion dollars for these TV stations. We’ll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!” After we refused, Fox’s general manager presented an agreement that would give us a full year of salary, and benefits worth close to $200,000 in “consulting jobs,” but with strings attached: no mention of how Fox covered up the story and no opportunity to ever expose the facts. After declining, we were fired. (pp. 213 – 219)

Monika Jensen-Stevenson—Emmy-winning producer for 60 minutes. Robert Garwood—14 years a prisoner of the Vietnamese—was found guilty in the longest court-martial in US history. At the end of the court-martial, there seemed no question that he was a monstrous traitor. In 1985, Garwood was speaking publicly about something that had never made the news during his court-martial. He knew of other American prisoners in Vietnam long after the war was over. My sources included outstanding experts like former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency General Tighe and returned POWs like Captain McDaniel, who held the Navy’s top award for bravery. With such advocates, it was hard not to consider the possibility that prisoners (some 3,500) had in fact been kept by the Vietnamese as hostages to make sure the US would pay the more than $3 billion in war reparations. (pp. 255, 256)

Gary Webb—San Jose Mercury News, Pulitzer Prize winner. In 1996, I wrote a series of stories that began this way: A Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods gangs of LA and funneled millions in drug profits to a guerilla army run by the CIA. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America. The story developed a momentum all of its own, despite a virtual news blackout from the major media. Ultimately, it was public pressure that forced the national newspapers into the fray. The Washington PostNew York Times, and Los Angeles Times published stories, but spent little time exploring the CIA’s activities. Instead, my reporting and I became the focus of their scrutiny. It was remarkable that the fourWashington Post reporters assigned to debunk the series could not find a single significant factual error. A few months later, the Mercury News, under intense CIA pressure, backed away from the story, publishing a long column apologizing for “shortcomings” in the series. The New York Times splashed the apology on their front page, the first time the series had ever been mentioned there. I quit the Mercury News after that. (pp. 143 – 153)

For more on these and the eye-opening stories of other leading journalists, go to the two-page summary of Into the Buzzsaw at http://www.WantToKnow.info/mediacover-up  Or even better, go straight tohttp://www.WantToKnow.info/massmedia for the information-packed 10-page summary. For other reliable resources on the media cover-up, visit our Media Information Center. If these stories were reported in headline news where they belong, caring citizens would be astounded and demand to know more. This has not happened, which is why we feel compelled to provide them here.

To understand more about the impact of all this, go to http://www.WantToKnow.info  The entire website is dedicated both to providing a concise, reliable introduction to incredibly important information that is being hidden from us, and to inspiring us to work together to strengthen democracy and to build a better world. You can help to build a brighter future now by educating yourself on these vital issues, and by forwarding this message to your friends and colleagues and asking them to do the same. Thank you for caring. Together we can and will build a better world for ourselves and our children. 

The WantToKnow.info team is a group of dedicated researchers from around the world who compile and summarize important, verifiable facts and information being hidden from the public. You can reach us by visitinghttp://www.WantToKnow.info/contactus.php.

Autism Activists Launch Media Blitz, Claiming Government Cover-Ups and Lies

By Lisa Jo Rudy, About.com Guide to Autism
http://autism.about.com/b/2009/02/25/autism-activists-launch-media-blitz-claiming-government-cover-ups-and-lies.htm
According to David Kirby, RFK Jr., and Generation Rescue, the Vaccine Court has quietly awarded millions dollars to several families who have claimed a causal link between vaccines and “autism-like” symptoms. The gist of the story is that families who call their children’s disorders anything but “autism” can win major settlements, while those who actually use the term “autism” win… bupkus.
Here’s a quote from today’s Huffington Post: “The Vaccine Court, in other words, seems quite willing to award millions of dollars in taxpayer funded compensation to vaccine-injured autistic children, so long as they don’t have to call the injury by the loaded term “autism.”

The article goes on to suggest that the CDC specifically and intentionally has been denying funding for vaccine-related research, likening the CDC to the tobacco industry:

Meanwhile, CDC has actively, openly and systematically suppressed and defunded epidemiological studies that might establish a causal link. CDC has ignored repeated pleadings that it fund peer reviewed studies of unvaccinated American cohorts like the Amish and home-schooled children. At the same time the agency has worked overtime ginning up a series of fatally-flawed European studies purporting to dispute the link. Even a cursory critical examination reveals that the oft-cited Danish, English, and Italian studies are rank tobacco science. Many of them were funded by CDC, a badly compromised agency, performed by vaccine industry scientists, and published in miserably conflicted journals.
Meanwhile, in support of the Kirby/Kennedy article, Generation Rescue has taken out a full page article in today’s USA Today. Under an image of multiple hypodermic needles, the text reads in part:
Why does the Vaccine Court exist? Why are the rulings in favor of the children being suppressed? Where is the justice for these parents? In this new era of government accountability and transparency, the one in 64 American families dealing with autism deserve more. It’s time the government told the truth about childhood vaccines.
Note: I am not at all sure where the 1:64 figure comes from, since the official figure at this point is 1:150.
Clearly, today’s media blitz will keep the autism community abuzz for quite a while to come. Do the allegations really hold water? Because I’m not an investigative journalist, I can’t claim to have the inside scoop. I can say, however, that most forms of autism can ONLY be identified through observation of symptoms. Thus, so far as I’m concerned, the distinction between “autism-like symptoms” and “autism spectrum disorders” really does lie in the spelling (setting aside Fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome, which can be identified through genetic tests).

If the allegations in today’s Huffington Post are confirmed, the vaccine/autism debate – believe it or not – has only just begun.

Social Collapse Best Practices

Reposted from Cluborlov

The following talk was given on February 13, 2009, at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, to an audience of 550 people. Audio of the talk is available here. Video of the talk will soon be made available on Long Now Foundation web site.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for showing up. It’s certainly nice to travel all the way across the North American continent and have a few people come to see you, even if the occasion isn’t a happy one. You are here to listen to me talk about social collapse and the various ways we can avoid screwing that up along with everything else that’s gone wrong. I know it’s a lot to ask of you, because why wouldn’t you instead want to go and eat, drink, and be merry? Well, perhaps there will still be time left for that after my talk.

I would like to thank the Long Now Foundation for inviting me, and I feel very honored to appear in the same venue as many serious, professional people, such as Michael Pollan, who will be here in May, or some of the previous speakers, such as Nassim Taleb, or Brian Eno – some of my favorite people, really. I am just a tourist. I flew over here to give this talk and to take in the sights, and then I’ll fly back to Boston and go back to my day job. Well, I am also a blogger. And I also wrote a book. But then everyone has a book, or so it would seem.

You might ask yourself, then, Why on earth did he get invited to speak here tonight? It seems that I am enjoying my moment in the limelight, because I am one of the very few people who several years ago unequivocally predicted the demise of the United States as a global superpower. The idea that the USA will go the way of the USSR seemed preposterous at the time. It doesn’t seem so preposterous any more. I take it some of you are still hedging your bets. How is that hedge fund doing, by the way?

I think I prefer remaining just a tourist, because I have learned from experience – luckily, from other people’s experience – that being a superpower collapse predictor is not a good career choice. I learned that by observing what happened to the people who successfully predicted the collapse of the USSR. Do you know who Andrei Amalrik is? See, my point exactly. He successfully predicted the collapse of the USSR. He was off by just half a decade. That was another valuable lesson for me, which is why I will not give you an exact date when USA will turn into FUSA (“F” is for “Former”). But even if someone could choreograph the whole event, it still wouldn’t make for much of a career, because once it all starts falling apart, people have far more important things to attend to than marveling at the wonderful predictive abilities of some Cassandra-like person.

I hope that I have made it clear that I am not here in any sort of professional capacity. I consider what I am doing a kind of community service. So, if you don’t like my talk, don’t worry about me. There are plenty of other things I can do. But I would like my insights to be of help during these difficult and confusing times, for altruistic reasons, mostly, although not entirely. This is because when times get really bad, as they did when the Soviet Union collapsed, lots of people just completely lose it. Men, especially. Successful, middle-aged men, breadwinners, bastions of society, turn out to be especially vulnerable. And when they just completely lose it, they become very tedious company. My hope is that some amount of preparation, psychological and otherwise, can make them a lot less fragile, and a bit more useful, and generally less of a burden.

Women seem much more able to cope. Perhaps it is because they have less of their ego invested in the whole dubious enterprise, or perhaps their sense of personal responsibility is tied to those around them and not some nebulous grand enterprise. In any case, the women always seem far more able to just put on their gardening gloves and go do something useful, while the men tend to sit around groaning about the Empire, or the Republic, or whatever it is that they lost. And when they do that, they become very tedious company. And so, without a bit of mental preparation, the men are all liable to end up very lonely and very drunk. So that’s my little intervention.

If there is one thing that I would like to claim as my own, it is the comparative theory of superpower collapse. For now, it remains just a theory, although it is currently being quite thoroughly tested. The theory states that the United States and the Soviet Union will have collapsed for the same reasons, namely: a severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil (that magic addictive elixir of industrial economies), a severe and worsening foreign trade deficit, a runaway military budget, and ballooning foreign debt. I call this particular list of ingredients “The Superpower Collapse Soup.” Other factors, such as the inability to provide an acceptable quality of life for its citizens, or a systemically corrupt political system incapable of reform, are certainly not helpful, but they do not automatically lead to collapse, because they do not put the country on a collision course with reality. Please don’t be too concerned, though, because, as I mentioned, this is just a theory. My theory.

I’ve been working on this theory since about 1995, when it occurred to me that the US is retracing the same trajectory as the USSR. As so often is the case, having this realization was largely a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The two most important methods of solving problems are: 1. by knowing the solution ahead of time, and 2. by guessing it correctly. I learned this in engineering school – from a certain professor. I am not that good at guesswork, but I do sometimes know the answer ahead of time.

I was very well positioned to have this realization because I grew up straddling the two worlds – the USSR and the US. I grew up in Russia, and moved to the US when I was twelve, and so I am fluent in Russian, and I understand Russian history and Russian culture the way only a native Russian can. But I went through high school and university in the US .I had careers in several industries here, I traveled widely around the country, and so I also have a very good understanding of the US with all of its quirks and idiosyncrasies. I traveled back to Russia in 1989, when things there still seemed more or less in line with the Soviet norm, and again in 1990, when the economy was at a standstill, and big changes were clearly on the way. I went back there 3 more times in the 1990s, and observed the various stages of Soviet collapse first-hand.

By the mid-1990s I started to see Soviet/American Superpowerdom as a sort of disease that strives for world dominance but in effect eviscerates its host country, eventually leaving behind an empty shell: an impoverished population, an economy in ruins, a legacy of social problems, and a tremendous burden of debt. The symmetries between the two global superpowers were then already too numerous to mention, and they have been growing more obvious ever since.

The superpower symmetries may be of interest to policy wonks and history buffs and various skeptics, but they tell us nothing that would be useful in our daily lives. It is the asymmetries, the differences between the two superpowers, that I believe to be most instructive. When the Soviet system went away, many people lost their jobs, everyone lost their savings, wages and pensions were held back for months, their value was wiped out by hyperinflation, there shortages of food, gasoline, medicine, consumer goods, there was a large increase in crime and violence, and yet Russian society did not collapse. Somehow, the Russians found ways to muddle through. How was that possible? It turns out that many aspects of the Soviet system were paradoxically resilient in the face of system-wide collapse, many institutions continued to function, and the living arrangement was such that people did not lose access to food, shelter or transportation, and could survive even without an income. The Soviet economic system failed to thrive, and the Communist experiment at constructing a worker’s paradise on earth was, in the end, a failure. But as a side effect it inadvertently achieved a high level of collapse-preparedness. In comparison, the American system could produce significantly better results, for time, but at the cost of creating and perpetuating a living arrangement that is very fragile, and not at all capable of holding together through the inevitable crash. Even after the Soviet economy evaporated and the government largely shut down, Russians still had plenty left for them to work with. And so there is a wealth of useful information and insight that we can extract from the Russian experience, which we can then turn around and put to good use in helping us improvise a new living arrangement here in the United States – one that is more likely to be survivable.

The mid-1990s did not seem to me as the right time to voice such ideas. The United States was celebrating its so-called Cold War victory, getting over its Vietnam syndrome by bombing Iraq back to the Stone Age, and the foreign policy wonks coined the term “hyperpower” and were jabbering on about full-spectrum dominance. All sorts of silly things were happening. Professor Fukuyama told us that history had ended, and so we were building a brave new world where the Chinese made things out of plastic for us, the Indians provided customer support when these Chinese-made things broke, and we paid for it all just by flipping houses, pretending that they were worth a lot of money whereas they are really just useless bits of ticky-tacky. Alan Greenspan chided us about “irrational exuberance” while consistently low-balling interest rates. It was the “Goldilocks economy” – not to hot, not too cold. Remember that? And now it turns out that it was actually more of a “Tinker-bell” economy, because the last five or so years of economic growth was more or less a hallucination, based on various debt pyramids, the “whole house of cards” as President Bush once referred to it during one of his lucid moments. And now we can look back on all of that with a funny, queasy feeling, or we can look forward and feel nothing but vertigo.

While all of these silly things were going on, I thought it best to keep my comparative theory of superpower collapse to myself. During that time, I was watching the action in the oil industry, because I understood that oil imports are the Achilles’ heel of the US economy. In the mid-1990s the all-time peak in global oil production was scheduled for the turn of the century. But then a lot of things happened that delayed it by at least half a decade. Perhaps you’ve noticed this too, there is a sort of refrain here: people who try to predict big historical shifts always turn to be off by about half a decade. Unsuccessful predictions, on the other hand are always spot on as far as timing: the world as we know it failed to end precisely at midnight on January 1, 2000. Perhaps there is a physical principal involved: information spreads at the speed of light, while ignorance is instantaneous at all points in the known universe. So please make a mental note: whenever it seems to you that I am making a specific prediction as to when I think something is likely to happen, just silently add “plus or minus half a decade.”

In any case, about half a decade ago, I finally thought that the time was ripe, and, as it has turned out, I wasn’t too far off. In June of 2005 I published an article on the subject, titled “Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century,” which was quite popular, even to the extent that I got paid for it. It is available at various places on the Internet. A little while later I formalized my thinking somewhat into the “Collapse Gap” concept, which I presented at a conference in Manhattan in April of 2006. The slide show from that presentation, titled “Closing the Collapse Gap,” was posted on the Internet and has been downloaded a few million times since then. Then, in January of 2008, when it became apparent to me that financial collapse was well underway, and that other stages of collapse were to follow, I published a short article titled “The Five Stages of Collapse,” which I later expanded into a talk I gave at a conference in Michigan in October of 2008. Finally, at the end of 2008, I announced on my blog that I am getting out of the prognosticating business. I have made enough predictions, they all seem very well on track (give or take half a decade, please remember that), collapse is well underway, and now I am just an observer.

But this talk is about something else, something other than making dire predictions and then acting all smug when they come true. You see, there is nothing more useless than predictions, once they have come true. It’s like looking at last year’s amazingly successful stock picks: what are you going to do about them this year? What we need are examples of things that have been shown to work in the strange, unfamiliar, post-collapse environment that we are all likely to have to confront. Stuart Brand proposed the title for the talk – “Social Collapse Best Practices” – and I thought that it was an excellent idea. Although the term “best practices” has been diluted over time to sometimes mean little more than “good ideas,” initially it stood for the process of abstracting useful techniques from examples of what has worked in the past and applying them to new situations, in order to control risk and to increase the chances of securing a positive outcome. It’s a way of skipping a lot of trial and error and deliberation and experimentation, and to just go with what works.

In organizations, especially large organizations, “best practices” also offer a good way to avoid painful episodes of watching colleagues trying to “think outside the box” whenever they are confronted with a new problem. If your colleagues were any good at thinking outside the box, they probably wouldn’t feel so compelled to spend their whole working lives sitting in a box keeping an office chair warm. If they were any good at thinking outside the box, they would have by now thought of a way to escape from that box. So perhaps what would make them feel happy and productive again is if someone came along and gave them a different box inside of which to think – a box better suited to the post-collapse environment.

Here is the key insight: you might think that when collapse happens, nothing works. That’s just not the case. The old ways of doing things don’t work any more, the old assumptions are all invalidated, conventional goals and measures of success become irrelevant. But a different set of goals, techniques, and measures of success can be brought to bear immediately, and the sooner the better. But enough generalities, let’s go through some specifics. We’ll start with some generalities, and, as you will see, it will all become very, very specific rather quickly.

Here is another key insight: there are very few things that are positives or negatives per se. Just about everything is a matter of context. Now, it just so happens that most things that are positives prior to collapse turn out to be negatives once collapse occurs, and vice versa. For instance, prior to collapse having high inventory in a business is bad, because the businesses have to store it and finance it, so they try to have just-in-time inventory. After collapse, high inventory turns out to be very useful, because they can barter it for the things they need, and they can’t easily get more because they don’t have any credit. Prior to collapse, it’s good for a business to have the right level of staffing and an efficient organization. After collapse, what you want is a gigantic, sluggish bureaucracy that can’t unwind operations or lay people off fast enough through sheer bureaucratic foot-dragging. Prior to collapse, what you want is an effective retail segment and good customer service. After collapse, you regret not having an unreliable retail segment, with shortages and long bread lines, because then people would have been forced to learn to shift for themselves instead of standing around waiting for somebody to come and feed them.

If you notice, none of these things that I mentioned have any bearing on what is commonly understood as “economic health.” Prior to collapse, the overall macroeconomic positive is an expanding economy. After collapse, economic contraction is a given, and the overall macroeconomic positive becomes something of an imponderable, so we are forced to listen to a lot of nonsense. The situation is either slightly better than expected or slightly worse than expected. We are always either months or years away from economic recovery. Business as usual will resume sooner or later, because some television bobble-head said so.

But let’s take it apart. Starting from the very general, what are the current macroeconomic objectives, if you listen to the hot air coming out of Washington at the moment? First: growth, of course! Getting the economy going. We learned nothing from the last huge spike in commodity prices, so let’s just try it again. That calls for economic stimulus, a.k.a. printing money. Let’s see how high the prices go up this time. Maybe this time around we will achieve hyperinflation. Second: Stabilizing financial institutions: getting banks lending – that’s important too. You see, we are just not in enough debt yet, that’s our problem. We need more debt, and quickly! Third: jobs! We need to create jobs. Low-wage jobs, of course, to replace all the high-wage manufacturing jobs we’ve been shedding for decades now, and replacing them with low-wage service sector jobs, mainly ones without any job security or benefits. Right now, a lot of people could slow down the rate at which they are sinking further into debt if they quit their jobs. That is, their job is a net loss for them as individuals as well as for the economy as a whole. But, of course, we need much more of that, and quickly!

So that’s what we have now. The ship is on the rocks, water is rising, and the captain is shouting “Full steam ahead! We are sailing to Afghanistan!” Do you listen to Ahab up on the bridge, or do you desert your post in the engine room and go help deploy the lifeboats? If you thought that the previous episode of uncontrolled debt expansion, globalized Ponzi schemes, and economic hollowing-out was silly, then I predict that you will find this next episode of feckless grasping at macroeconomic straws even sillier. Except that it won’t be funny: what is crashing now is our life support system: all the systems and institutions that are keeping us alive. And so I don’t recommend passively standing around and watching the show – unless you happen to have a death wish.

Right now the Washington economic stimulus team is putting on their Scuba gear and diving down to the engine room to try to invent a way to get a diesel engine to run on seawater. They spoke of change, but in reality they are terrified of change and want to cling with all their might to the status quo. But this game will soon be over, and they don’t have any idea what to do next.

So, what is there for them to do? Forget “growth,” forget “jobs,” forget “financial stability.” What should their realistic new objectives be? Well, here they are: food, shelter, transportation, and security. Their task is to find a way to provide all of these necessities on an emergency basis, in absence of a functioning economy, with commerce at a standstill, with little or no access to imports, and to make them available to a population that is largely penniless. If successful, society will remain largely intact, and will be able to begin a slow and painful process of cultural transition, and eventually develop a new economy, a gradually de-industrializing economy, at a much lower level of resource expenditure, characterized by a quite a lot of austerity and even poverty, but in conditions that are safe, decent, and dignified. If unsuccessful, society will be gradually destroyed in a series of convulsions that will leave a defunct nation composed of many wretched little fiefdoms. Given its largely depleted resource base, a dysfunctional, collapsing infrastructure, and its history of unresolved social conflicts, the territory of the Former United States will undergo a process of steady degeneration punctuated by natural and man-made cataclysms.

Food. Shelter. Transportation. Security. When it comes to supplying these survival necessities, the Soviet example offers many valuable lessons. As I already mentioned, in a collapse many economic negatives become positives, and vice versa. Let us consider each one of these in turn.

The Soviet agricultural sector was plagued by consistent underperformance. In many ways, this was the legacy of the disastrous collectivization experiment carried out in the 1930s, which destroyed many of the more prosperous farming households and herded people into collective farms. Collectivization undermined the ancient village-based agricultural traditions that had made pre-revolutionary Russia a well-fed place that was also the breadbasket of Western Europe. A great deal of further damage was caused by the introduction of industrial agriculture. The heavy farm machinery alternately compacted and tore up the topsoil while dosing it with chemicals, depleting it and killing the biota. Eventually, the Soviet government had to turn to importing grain from countries hostile to its interests – United States and Canada – and eventually expanded this to include other foodstuffs. The USSR experienced a permanent shortage of meat and other high-protein foods, and much of the imported grain was used to raise livestock to try to address this problem.

Although it was generally possible to survive on the foods available at the government stores, the resulting diet would have been rather poor, and so people tried to supplement it with food they gathered, raised, or caught, or purchased at farmers’ markets. Kitchen gardens were always common, and, once the economy collapsed, a lot of families took to growing food in earnest. The kitchen gardens, by themselves, were never sufficient, but they made a huge difference.

The year 1990 was particularly tough when it came to trying to score something edible. I remember one particular joke from that period. Black humor has always been one of Russia’s main psychological coping mechanisms. A man walks into a food store, goes to the meat counter, and he sees that it is completely empty. So he asks the butcher: “Don’t you have any fish?” And the butcher answers: “No, here is where we don’t have any meat. Fish is what they don’t have over at the seafood counter.”

Poor though it was, the Soviet food distribution system never collapsed completely. In particular, the deliveries of bread continued even during the worst of times, partly because has always been such an important part of the Russian diet, and partly because access to bread symbolized the pact between the people and the Communist government, enshrined in oft-repeated revolutionary slogans. Also, it is important to remember that in Russia most people have lived within walking distance of food shops, and used public transportation to get out to their kitchen gardens, which were often located in the countryside immediately surrounding the relatively dense, compact cities. This combination of factors made for some lean times, but very little malnutrition and no starvation.

In the United States, the agricultural system is heavily industrialized, and relies on inputs such as diesel, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and, perhaps most importantly, financing. In the current financial climate, the farmers’ access to financing is not at all assured. This agricultural system is efficient, but only if you regard fossil fuel energy as free. In fact, it is a way to transform fossil fuel energy into food with a bit of help from sunlight, to the tune of 10 calories of fossil fuel energy being embodied in each calorie that is consumed as food. The food distribution system makes heavy use of refrigerated diesel trucks, transforming food over hundreds of miles to resupply supermarkets. The food pipeline is long and thin, and it takes only a couple of days of interruptions for supermarket shelves to be stripped bare. Many people live in places that are not within walking distance of stores, not served by public transportation, and will be cut off from food sources once they are no longer able to drive.

Besides the supermarket chains, much of the nation’s nutrition needs are being met by an assortment of fast food joints and convenience stores. In fact, in many of the less fashionable parts of cities and towns, fast food and convenience store food is all that is available. In the near future, this trend is likely to extend to the more prosperous parts of town and the suburbs.

Fast food outfits such as McDonalds have more ways to cut costs, and so may prove a bit more resilient in the face of economic collapse than supermarket chains, but they are no substitute for food security, because they too depend industrial agribusiness. Their food inputs, such as high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified potatoes, various soy-based fillers, factory-farmed beef, pork and chicken, and so forth, are derived from oil, two-thirds of which is imported, as well as fertilizer made from natural gas. They may be able to stay in business longer, supplying food-that-isn’t-really-food, but eventually they will run out of inputs along with the rest of the supply chain. Before they do, they may for a time sell burgers that aren’t really burgers, like the bread that wasn’t really bread that the Soviet government distributed in Leningrad during the Nazi blockade. It was mostly sawdust, with a bit of rye flour added for flavor.

Can we think of any ways to avoid this dismal scenario? The Russian example may give us a clue. Many Russian families could gauge how fast the economy was crashing, and, based on that, decide how many rows of potatoes to plant. Could we perhaps do something similar? There is already a healthy gardening movement in the United States; can it be scaled up? The trick is to make small patches of farmland available for non-mechanical cultivation by individuals and families, in increments as small as 1000 square feet. The ideal spots would be fertile bits of land with access to rivers and streams for irrigation. Provisions would have to be made for campsites and for transportation, allowing people to undertake seasonal migrations out to the land to grow food during the growing season, and haul the produce back to the population centers after taking in the harvest.

An even simpler approach has been successfully used in Cuba: converting urban parking lots and other empty bits of land to raised-bed agriculture. Instead of continually trucking in vegetables and other food, it is much easier to truck in soil, compost, and mulch just once a season. Raised highways can be closed to traffic (since there is unlikely to be much traffic in any case) and used to catch rainwater for irrigation. Rooftops and balconies can be used for hothouses, henhouses, and a variety of other agricultural uses.

How difficult would this be to organize? Well, Cubans were actually helped by their government, but the Russians managed to do it in more or less in spite of the Soviet bureaucrats, and so we might be able to do it in spite of the American ones. The government could theoretically head up such an effort, purely hypothetically speaking, of course, because I see no evidence that such an effort is being considered. For our fearless national leaders, such initiatives are too low-level: if they stimulate the economy and get the banks lending again, the potatoes will simply grow themselves. All they need to do is print some more money, right?

Moving on to shelter. Again, let’s look at how the Russians managed to muddle through. In the Soviet Union, people did not own their place of residence. Everyone was assigned a place to live, which was recorded in a person’s internal passport. People could not be dislodged from their place of residence for as long as they drew oxygen. Since most people in Russia live in cities, the place of residence was usually an apartment, or a room in a communal apartment, with shared bathroom and kitchen. There was a permanent housing shortage, and so people often doubled up, with three generations living together. The apartments were often crowded, sometimes bordering on squalid. If people wanted to move, they had to find somebody else who wanted to move, who would want to exchange rooms or apartments with them. There were always long waiting lists for apartments, and children often grew up, got married, and had children before receiving a place of their own.

These all seem like negatives, but consider the flip side of all this: the high population density made this living arrangement quite affordable. With several generations living together, families were on hand to help each other. Grandparents provided day care, freeing up their children’s time to do other things. The apartment buildings were always built near public transportation, so they did not have to rely on private cars to get around. Apartment buildings are relatively cheap to heat, and municipal services easy to provide and maintain because of the short runs of pipe and cable. Perhaps most importantly, after the economy collapsed, people lost their savings, many people lost their jobs, even those that still had jobs often did not get paid for months, and when they were the value of their wages was destroyed by hyperinflation, but there were no foreclosures, no evictions, municipal services such as heat, water, and sometimes even hot water continued to be provided, and everyone had their families close by. Also, because it was so difficult to relocate, people generally stayed in one place for generations, and so they tended to know all the people around them. After the economic collapse, there was a large spike in the crime rate, which made it very helpful to be surrounded by people who weren’t strangers, and who could keep an eye on things. Lastly, in an interesting twist, the Soviet housing arrangement delivered an amazing final windfall: in the 1990s all of these apartments were privatized, and the people who lived in them suddenly became owners of some very valuable real estate, free and clear.

Switching back to the situation in the US: in recent months, many people here have reconciled themselves to the idea that their house is not an ATM machine, nor is it a nest egg. They already know that they will not be able to comfortably retire by selling it, or get rich by fixing it up and flipping it, and quite a few people have acquiesced to the fact that real estate prices are going to continue heading lower. The question is, How much lower? A lot of people still think that there must be a lower limit, a “realistic” price. This thought is connected to the notion that housing is a necessity. After all, everybody needs a place to live.

Well, it is certainly true that some sort of shelter is a necessity, be it an apartment, or a dorm room, a bunk in a barrack, a boat, a camper, or a tent, a teepee, a wigwam, a shipping container… The list is virtually endless. But there is no reason at all to think that a suburban single-family house is in any sense a requirement. It is little more than a cultural preference, and a very shortsighted one at that. Most suburban houses are expensive to heat and cool, inaccessible by public transportation, expensive to hook up to public utilities because of the long runs of pipe and cable, and require a great deal of additional public expenditure on road, bridge and highway maintenance, school buses, traffic enforcement, and other nonsense. They often take up what was once valuable agricultural land. They promote a car-centric culture that is destructive of urban environments, causing a proliferation of dead downtowns. Many families that live in suburban houses can no longer afford to live in them, and expect others to bail them out.

As this living arrangement becomes unaffordable for all concerned, it will also become unlivable. Municipalities and public utilities will not have the funds to lavish on sewer, water, electricity, road and bridge repair, and police. Without cheap and plentiful gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil, many suburban dwellings will become both inaccessible and unlivable. The inevitable result will be a mass migration of suburban refugees toward the more survivable, more densely settled towns and cities. The luckier ones will find friends or family to stay with; for the rest, it would be very helpful to improvise some solution.

One obvious answer is to repurpose the ever-plentiful vacant office buildings for residential use. Converting offices to dormitories is quite straightforward. Many of them already have kitchens and bathrooms, plenty of partitions and other furniture, and all they are really missing is beds. Putting in beds is just not that difficult. The new, subsistence economy is unlikely to generate the large surpluses that are necessary for sustaining the current large population of office plankton. The businesses that once occupied these offices are not coming back, so we might as well find new and better uses for them.

Another category of real estate that is likely to go unused and that can be repurposed for new communities is college campuses. The American 4-year college is an institution of dubious merit. It exists because American public schools fail to teach in 12 years what Russian public schools manage to teach in 8. As fewer and fewer people become able to afford college, which is likely to happen, because meager career prospects after graduation will make them bad risks for student loans, perhaps this will provide the impetus to do something about the public education system. One idea would be to scrap it, then start small, but eventually build something a bit more on par with world standards.

College campuses make perfect community centers: there are dormitories for newcomers, fraternities and sororities for the more settled residents, and plenty of grand public buildings that can be put to a variety of uses. A college campus normally contains the usual wasteland of mowed turf that can be repurposed to grow food, or, at the very least, hay, and to graze cattle. Perhaps some enlightened administrators, trustees and faculty members will fall upon this idea once they see admissions flat-lining and endowments dropping to zero, without any need for government involvement. So here we have a ray of hope, don’t we.

Moving on to transportation. Here, we need to make sure that people don’t get stranded in places that are not survivable. Then we have to provide for seasonal migrations to places where people can grow, catch, or gather their own food, and then back to places where they can survive the winter without freezing to death or going stir-crazy from cabin fever. Lastly, some amount of freight will have to be moved, to transport food to population centers, as well as enough coal and firewood to keep the pipes from freezing in the remaining habitable dwellings.

All of this is going to be a bit of a challenge, because it all hinges on the availability of transportation fuels, and it seems very probable that transportation fuels will be both too expensive and in short supply before too long. From about 2005 and until the middle of 2008 the global oil has been holding steady, unable to grow materially beyond a level that has been characterized as a “bumpy plateau.” An all-time record was set in 2005, and then, after a period of record-high oil prices, again only in 2008. Then, as the financial collapse gathered speed, oil and other commodity prices crashed, along with oil production. More recently, the oil markets have come to rest on an altogether different “bumpy plateau”: the oil prices are bumping along at around $40 a barrel and can’t seem to go any lower. It would appear that oil production costs have risen to a point where it does not make economic sense to sell oil at below this price.

Now, $40 a barrel is a good price for US consumers at the moment, but there is hyperinflation on the horizon, thanks to the money-printing extravaganza currently underway in Washington, and $40 could easily become $400 and then $4000 a barrel, swiftly pricing US consumers out of the international oil market. On top of that, exporting countries would balk at the idea of trading their oil for an increasingly worthless currency, and would start insisting on payment in kind – in some sort of tangible export commodity, which the US, in its current economic state, would be hard-pressed to provide in any great quantity. Domestic oil production is in permanent decline, and can provide only about a third of current needs. This is still quite a lot of oil, but it will be very difficult to avoid the knock-on effects of widespread oil shortages. There will be widespread hoarding, quite a lot of gasoline will simply evaporate into the atmosphere, vented from various jerricans and improvised storage containers, the rest will disappear into the black market, and much fuel will be wasted driving around looking for someone willing to part with a bit of gas that’s needed for some small but critical mission.

I am quite familiar with this scenario, because I happened to be in Russia during a time of gasoline shortages. On one occasion, I found out by word of mouth that a certain gas station was open and distributing 10 liters apiece. I brought along my uncle’s wife, who at the time was 8 months pregnant, and we tried use her huge belly to convince the gas station attendant to give us an extra 10 liters with which to drive her to the hospital when the time came. No dice. The pat answer was: “Everybody is 8 months pregnant!” How can you argue with that logic? So 10 liters was it for us too, belly or no belly.

So, what can we do to get our little critical missions accomplished in spite of chronic fuel shortages? The most obvious idea, of course, is to not use any fuel. Bicycles, and cargo bikes in particular, are an excellent adaptation. Sailboats are a good idea too: not only do they hold large amounts of cargo, but they can cover huge distances, all without the use of fossil fuels. Of course, they are restricted to the coastlines and the navigable waterways. They will be hampered by the lack of dredging due to the inevitable budget shortfalls, and by bridges that refuse to open, again, due to lack of maintenance funds, but here ancient maritime techniques and improvisations can be brought to bear to solve such problems, all very low-tech and reasonably priced.

Of course, cars and trucks will not disappear entirely. Here, again, some reasonable adaptations can be brought to bear. In my book, I advocated banning the sale of new cars, as was done in the US during World War II. The benefits are numerous. First, older cars are overall more energy-efficient than new cars, because the massive amount of energy that went into manufacturing them is more highly amortized. Second, large energy savings accrue from the shutdown of an entire industry devoted to designing, building, marketing, and financing new cars. Third, older cars require more maintenance, reinvigorating the local economy at the expense of mainly foreign car manufacturers, and helping reduce the trade deficit. Fourth, this will create a shortage of cars, translating automatically into fewer, shorter car trips, higher passenger occupancy per trip, and more bicycling and use of public transportation, saving even more energy. Lastly, this would allow the car to be made obsolete on the about the same time scale as the oil industry that made it possible. We will run out of cars just as we run out of gas.

Here we are, only a year or so later, and I am most heartened to see that the US auto industry has taken my advice and is in the process of shutting down. On the other hand, the government’s actions continue to disappoint. Instead of trying to solve problems, they would rather continue to create boondoggles. The latest one is the idea of subsidizing the sales of new cars. The idea of making cars more efficient by making more efficient cars is sheer folly. I can take any pick-up truck and increase its fuel efficiency one or two thousand percent just by breaking a few laws. First, you pack about a dozen people into the bed, standing shoulder to shoulder like sardines. Second, you drive about 25 mph, down the highway, because going any faster would waste fuel and wouldn’t be safe with so many people in the back. And there you are, per passenger fuel efficiency increased by a factor of 20 or so. I believe the Mexicans have done extensive research in this area, with excellent results.

Another excellent idea pioneered in Cuba is making it illegal not to pick up hitchhikers. Cars with vacant seats are flagged down and matched up with people who need a lift. Yet another idea: since passenger rail service is in such a sad shape, and since it is unlikely that funds will be found to improve it, why not bring back the venerable institution of riding the rails by requiring rail freight companies to provide a few empty box cars for the hobos. The energy cost of the additional weight is negligible, the hobos don’t require stops because they can jump on and off, and only a couple of cars per train would ever be needed, because hobos are almost infinitely compressible, and can even ride on the roof if needed. One final transportation idea: start breeding donkeys. Horses are finicky and expensive, but donkeys can be very cost-effective and make good pack animals. My grandfather had a donkey while he was living in Tashkent in Central Asia during World War II. There was nothing much for the donkey to eat, but, as a member of the Communist Party, my grandfather had a subscription to Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, and so that’s what the donkey ate. Apparently, donkeys can digest any kind of cellulose, even when it’s loaded with communist propaganda. If I had a donkey, I would feed it the Wall Street Journal.

And so we come to the subject of security. Post-collapse Russia suffered from a serious crime wave. Ethnic mafias ran rampant, veterans who served in Afghanistan went into business for themselves, there were numerous contract killings, muggings, murders went unsolved left and right, and, in general, the place just wasn’t safe. Russians living in the US would hear that I am heading back there for a visit, and would give me a wide-eyed stare: how could I think of doing such a thing. I came through unscathed, somehow. I made a lot of interesting observations along the way.

One interesting observation is that once collapse occurs it becomes possible to rent a policeman, either for a special occasion, or generally just to follow someone around. It is even possible to hire a soldier or two, armed with AK-47s, to help you run various errands. Not only is it possible to do such things, it’s often a very good idea, especially if you happen to have something valuable that you don’t want to part with. If you can’t afford their services, then you should try to be friends with them, and to be helpful to them in various ways. Although their demands might seem exorbitant at times, it is still a good idea to do all you can to keep them on your side. For instance, they might at some point insist that you and your family move out to the garage so that they can live in your house. This may be upsetting at first, but then is it really such a good idea for you to live in a big house all by yourselves, with so many armed men running around. It may make sense to station some of them right in your house, so that they have a base of operations from which to maintain a watch and patrol the neighborhood.

A couple of years ago I half-jokingly proposed a political solution to collapse mitigation, and formulated a platform for the so-called Collapse Party. I published it with the caveat that I didn’t think there was much of a chance of my proposals becoming part of the national agenda. Much to my surprise, I turned out to be wrong. For instance, I proposed that we stop making new cars, and, lo and behold, the auto industry shuts down. I also proposed that we start granting amnesties to prisoners, because the US has the world’s largest prison population, and will not be able to afford to keep so many people locked up. It is better to release prisoners gradually, over time, rather than in a single large general amnesty, the way Saddam Hussein did it right before the US invaded. And, lo and behold, many states are starting to implement my proposal. It looks like California in particular will be forced to release some 60 thousand of the 170 thousand people it keeps locked up. That is a good start. I also proposed that we dismantle all overseas military bases (there are over a thousand of them) and repatriate all the troops. And it looks like that is starting to happen as well, except for the currently planned little side-trip to Afghanistan. I also proposed a Biblical jubilee – forgiveness of all debts, public and private. Let’s give that one… half a decade?

But if we look just at the changes that are already occurring, just the simple, predictable lack of funds, as the federal government and the state governments all go broke, will transform American society in rather predictable ways. As municipalities run out of money, police protection will evaporate. But the police still have to eat, and will find ways to use their skills to good use on a freelance basis. Similarly, as military bases around the world are shut down, soldiers will return to a country that will be unable to reintegrate them into civilian life. Paroled prisoners will find themselves in much the same predicament.

And so we will have former soldiers, former police, and former prisoners: a big happy family, with a few bad apples and some violent tendencies. The end result will be a country awash with various categories of armed men, most of them unemployed, and many of them borderline psychotic. The police in the United States are a troubled group. Many of them lose all touch with people who are not “on the force” and most of them develop an us-versus-them mentality. The soldiers returning from a tour of duty often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The paroled prisoners suffer from a variety of psychological ailments as well. All of them will sooner or later realize that their problems are not medical but rather political. This will make it impossible for society to continue to exercise control over them. All of them will be making good use of their weapons training and other professional skills to acquire whatever they need to survive. And the really important point to remember is that they will do these things whether or not anyone thinks it legal for them to do be doing them.

I said it before and I will say it again: very few things are good or bad per se; everything has to be considered within a context. And, in a post-collapse context, not having to worry whether or not something is legal may be a very good thing. In the midst of a collapse, we will not have time to deliberate, legislate, interpret, set precedents and so on. Having to worry about pleasing a complex and expensive legal system is the last thing we should have to worry about.

Some legal impediments are really small and trivial, but they can be quite annoying nevertheless. A homeowners’ association might, say, want give you a ticket or seek a court order against you for not mowing your lawn, or for keeping livestock in your garage, or for that nice windmill you erected on a hill that you don’t own, without first getting a building permit, or some municipal busy-body might try to get you arrested for demolishing a certain derelict bridge because it was interfering with boat traffic – you know, little things like that. Well, if the association is aware that you have a large number of well armed, mentally unstable friends, some of whom still wear military and police uniforms, for old time’s sake, then they probably won’t give you that ticket or seek that court order.

Or suppose you have a great new invention that you want to make and distribute, a new agricultural implement. It’s a sort of flail studded with sharp blades. It has a hundred and one uses and is highly cost-effective, and reasonably safe provided you don’t lose your head while using it, although people have taken to calling the “flying guillotine.” You think that this is an acceptable risk, but you are concerned about the issues of consumer safety and liability insurance and possibly even criminal liability. Once again, it is very helpful to have a large number of influential, physically impressive, mildly psychotic friends who, whenever some legal matter comes up, can just can go and see the lawyers, have a friendly chat, demonstrate the proper use of the flying guillotine, and generally do whatever they have to do to settle the matter amicably, without any money changing hands, and without signing any legal documents.

Or, say, the government starts being difficult about moving things and people in and out of the country, or it wants to take too much of a cut from commercial transactions. Or perhaps your state or your town decides to conduct its own foreign policy, and the federal government sees it fit to interfere. Then it may turn out to be a good thing if someone else has the firepower to bring the government, or what remains of it, to its senses, and convince it to be reasonable and to play nice.

Or perhaps you want to start a community health clinic, so that you can provide some relief to people who wouldn’t otherwise have any health care. You don’t dare call yourself a doctor, because these people are suspicious of doctors, because doctors were always trying to rob them of their life’s savings. But suppose you have some medical training that you got in, say, Cuba, and you are quite able to handle a Caesarean or an appendectomy, to suture wounds, to treat infections, to set bones and so on. You also want to be able to distribute opiates that your friends in Afghanistan periodically send you, to ease the pain of hard post-collapse life. Well, going through the various licensing boards and getting the certifications and the permits and the malpractice insurance is all completely unnecessary, provided you can surround yourself with a lot of well-armed, well-trained, mentally unstable friends.

Food. Shelter. Transportation. Security. Security is very important. Maintaining order and public safety requires discipline, and maintaining discipline, for a lot of people, requires the threat of force. This means that people must be ready to come to each other’s defense, take responsibility for each other, and do what’s right. Right now, security is provided by a number of bloated, bureaucratic, ineffectual institutions, which inspire more anger and despondency than discipline, and dispense not so much violence as ill treatment. That is why we have the world’s highest prison population. They are supposedly there to protect people from each other, but in reality their mission is not even to provide security; it is to safeguard property, and those who own it. Once these institutions run out of resources, there will be a period of upheaval, but in the end people will be forced to learn to deal with each other face to face, and Justice will once again become a personal virtue rather than a federal department.

I’ve covered what I think are basics, based on what I saw work and what I think might work reasonably well here. I assume that a lot of you are thinking that this is all quite far into the future, if in fact it ever gets that bad. You should certainly feel free to think that way. The danger there is that you will miss the opportunity to adapt to the new reality ahead of time, and then you will get trapped. As I see it, there is a choice to be made: you can accept the failure of the system now and change your course accordingly, or you can decide that you must try to stay the course, and then you will probably have to accept your own individual failure later.

So how do you prepare? Lately, I’ve been hearing from a lot of high-powered, successful people about their various high-powered, successful associates. Usually, the story goes something like this: “My a. financial advisor, b. investment banker, or c. commanding officer has recently a. put all his money in gold, b. bought a log cabin up in the mountains, or c. built a bunker under his house stocked with six months of food and water. Is this normal?” And I tell them, yes, of course, that’s perfectly harmless. He’s just having a mid-collapse crisis. But that’s not really preparation. That’s just someone being colorful in an offbeat, countercultural sort of way.

So, how do you prepare, really? Let’s go through a list of questions that people typically ask me, and I will try to briefly respond to each of them.

OK, first question: How about all these financial boondoggles? What on earth is going on? People are losing their jobs left and right, and if we calculate unemployment the same way it was done during the Great Depression, instead of looking at the cooked numbers the government is trying to feed us now, then we are heading toward 20% unemployment. And is there any reason to think it’ll stop there? Do you happen to believe that prosperity is around the corner? Not only jobs and housing equity, but retirement savings are also evaporating. The federal government is broke, state governments are broke, some more than others, and the best they can do is print money, which will quickly lose value. So, how can we get the basics if we don’t have any money? How is that done? Good question.

As I briefly mentioned, the basics are food, shelter, transportation, and security. Shelter poses a particularly interesting problem at the moment. It is still very much overpriced, with many people paying mortgages and rents that they can no longer afford while numerous properties stand vacant. The solution, of course, is to cut your losses and stop paying. But then you might soon have to relocate. That is OK, because, as I mentioned, there is no shortage of vacant properties around. Finding a good place to live will become less and less of a problem as people stop paying their rents and mortgages and get foreclosed or evicted, because the number of vacant properties will only increase. The best course of action is to become a property caretaker, legitimately occupying a vacant property rent-free, and keeping an eye on things for the owner. What if you can’t find a position as a property caretaker? Well, then you might have to become a squatter, maintain a list of other vacant properties that you can go to next, and keep your camping gear handy just in case. If you do get tossed out, chances are, the people who tossed you out will then think about hiring a property caretaker, to keep the squatters out. And what do you do if you become property caretaker? Well, you take care of the property, but you also look out for all the squatters, because they are the reason you have a legitimate place to live. A squatter in hand is worth three absentee landlords in the bush. The absentee landlord might eventually cut his losses and go away, but your squatter friends will remain as your neighbors. Having some neighbors is so much better than living in a ghost town.

What if you still have a job? How do you prepare then? The obvious answer is, be prepared to quit or to be laid off or fired at any moment. It really doesn’t matter which one of these it turns out to be; the point is to sustain zero psychological damage in the process. Get your burn rate to as close to zero as you can, by spending as little money as possible, so than when the job goes away, not much has to change. While at work, do as little as possible, because all this economic activity is just a terrible burden on the environment. Just gently ride it down to a stop and jump off.

If you still have a job, or if you still have some savings, what do you do with all the money? The obvious answer is, build up inventory. The money will be worthless, but a box of bronze nails will still be a box of bronze nails. Buy and stockpile useful stuff, especially stuff that can be used to create various kinds of alternative systems for growing food, providing shelter, and providing transportation. If you don’t own a patch of dirt free and clear where you can stockpile stuff, then you can rent a storage container, pay it a few years forward, and just sit on it until reality kicks in again and there is something useful for you to do with it. Some of you may be frightened by the future I just described, and rightly so. There is nothing any of us can do to change the path we are on: it is a huge system with tremendous inertia, and trying to change its path is like trying to change the path of a hurricane. What we can do is prepare ourselves, and each other, mostly by changing our expectations, our preferences, and scaling down our needs. It may mean that you will miss out on some last, uncertain bit of enjoyment. On the other hand, by refashioning yourself into someone who might stand a better chance of adapting to the new circumstances, you will be able to give to yourself, and to others, a great deal of hope that would otherwise not exist.

US plans to ‘fight the net’ revealed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4655196.stm
By Adam Brookes
BBC Pentagon correspondent
A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military’s plans for “information operations” – from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.

Bloggers beware.

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.
From influencing public opinion through new media to designing “computer network attack” weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.
The declassified document is called “Information Operations Roadmap”. It was obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University using the Freedom of Information Act.
Officials in the Pentagon wrote it in 2003. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, signed it.
The “roadmap” calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military’s ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.
The document says that information is “critical to military success”. Computer and telecommunications networks are of vital operational importance.

Propaganda

The operations described in the document include a surprising range of military activities: public affairs officers who brief journalists, psychological operations troops who try to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of an enemy, computer network attack specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.
All these are engaged in information operations.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military’s psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.
“Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience,” it reads.
“Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” it goes on.
The document’s authors acknowledge that American news media should not unwittingly broadcast military propaganda. “Specific boundaries should be established,” they write. But they don’t seem to explain how.
“In this day and age it is impossible to prevent stories that are fed abroad as part of psychological operations propaganda from blowing back into the United States – even though they were directed abroad,” says Kristin Adair of the National Security Archive.

Credibility problem

Public awareness of the US military’s information operations is low, but it’s growing – thanks to some operational clumsiness.

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system
Late last year, it emerged that the Pentagon had paid a private company, the Lincoln Group, to plant hundreds of stories in Iraqi newspapers. The stories – all supportive of US policy – were written by military personnel and then placed in Iraqi publications.
And websites that appeared to be information sites on the politics of Africa and the Balkans were found to be run by the Pentagon.
But the true extent of the Pentagon’s information operations, how they work, who they’re aimed at, and at what point they turn from informing the public to influencing populations, is far from clear.
The roadmap, however, gives a flavour of what the US military is up to – and the grand scale on which it’s thinking.
It reveals that Psyops personnel “support” the American government’s international broadcasting. It singles out TV Marti – a station which broadcasts to Cuba – as receiving such support.
It recommends that a global website be established that supports America’s strategic objectives. But no American diplomats here, thank you. The website would use content from “third parties with greater credibility to foreign audiences than US officials”.
It also recommends that Psyops personnel should consider a range of technologies to disseminate propaganda in enemy territory: unmanned aerial vehicles, “miniaturized, scatterable public address systems”, wireless devices, cellular phones and the internet.

‘Fight the ‘Net’

When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone.
It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.
“Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system,” it reads.
The slogan “fight the net” appears several times throughout the roadmap.
The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence.
“Networks are growing faster than we can defend them… Attack sophistication is increasing… Number of events is increasing.”

US digital ambition

And, in a grand finale, the document recommends that the United States should seek the ability to “provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum”.
US forces should be able to “disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum”.
Consider that for a moment.
The US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet.
Are these plans the pipe dreams of self-aggrandising bureaucrats? Or are they real?
The fact that the “Information Operations Roadmap” is approved by the Secretary of Defense suggests that these plans are taken very seriously indeed in the Pentagon.
And that the scale and grandeur of the digital revolution is matched only by the US military’s ambitions for it.

Haile Selassie’s Address To The United Nations

Reposted from Rastafari Speaks

Oct, 1963

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates:

Haile Selassie ITwenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenseless nation, by the Fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.

Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best – perhaps the last – hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.

In 1936, I declared that it was not the Covenant of the League that was at stake, but international morality. Undertakings, I said then, are of little worth if the will to keep them is lacking. The Charter of the United Nations expresses the noblest aspirations of man: abjuration of force in the settlement of disputes between states; the assurance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; the safeguarding of international peace and security.

But these, too, as were the phrases of the Covenant, are only words; their value depends wholly on our will to observe and honor them and give them content and meaning. The preservation of peace and the guaranteeing of man’s basic freedoms and rights require courage and eternal vigilance: courage to speak and act – and if necessary, to suffer and die – for truth and justice; eternal vigilance, that the least transgression of international morality shall not go undetected and unremedied. These lessons must be learned anew by each succeeding generation, and that generation is fortunate indeed which learns from other than its own bitter experience. This Organization and each of its members bear a crushing and awesome responsibility: to absorb the wisdom of history and to apply it to the problems of the present, in order that future generations may be born, and live, and die, in peace.

The record of the United Nations during the few short years of its life affords mankind a solid basis for encouragement and hope for the future. The United Nations has dared to act, when the League dared not in Palestine, in Korea, in Suez, in the Congo. There is not one among us today who does not conjecture upon the reaction of this body when motives and actions are called into question. The opinion of this Organization today acts as a powerful influence upon the decisions of its members. The spotlight of world opinion, focused by the United Nations upon the transgressions of the renegades of human society, has thus far proved an effective safeguard against unchecked aggression and unrestricted violation of human rights.

The United Nations continues to sense as the forum where nations whose interests clash may lay their cases before world opinion. It still provides the essential escape valve without which the slow build-up of pressures would have long since resulted in catastrophic explosion. Its actions and decisions have speeded the achievement of freedom by many peoples on the continents of Africa and Asia. Its efforts have contributed to the advancement of the standard of living of peoples in all corners of the world.

For this, all men must give thanks. As I stand here today, how faint, how remote are the memories of 1936.How different in 1963 are the attitudes of men. We then existed in an atmosphere of suffocating pessimism. Today, cautious yet buoyant optimism is the prevailing spirit. But each one of us here knows that what has been accomplished is not enough.

The United Nations judgments have been and continue to be subject to frustration, as individual member-states have ignored its pronouncements and disregarded its recommendations. The Organization’s sinews have been weakened, as member-states have shirked their obligations to it. The authority of the Organization has been mocked, as individual member-states have proceeded, in violation of its commands, to pursue their own aims and ends. The troubles which continue to plague us virtually all arise among member states of the Organization, but the Organization remains impotent to enforce acceptable solutions. As the maker and enforcer of the international law, what the United Nations has achieved still falls regrettably short of our goal of an international community of nations.

This does not mean that the United Nations has failed. I have lived too long to cherish many illusions about the essential highmindedness of men when brought into stark confrontation with the issue of control over their security, and their property interests. Not even now, when so much is at hazard would many nations willingly entrust their destinies to other hands.

Yet, this is the ultimatum presented to us: secure the conditions whereby men will entrust their security to a larger entity, or risk annihilation; persuade men that their salvation rests in the subordination of national and local interests to the interests of humanity, or endanger man’s future. These are the objectives, yesterday unobtainable, today essential, which we must labor to achieve.

Until this is accomplished, mankind’s future remains hazardous and permanent peace a matter for speculation. There is no single magic formula, no one simple step, no words, whether written into the Organization’s Charter or into a treaty between states, which can automatically guarantee to us what we seek. Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. Peace is not an “is”, it is a “becoming.” We cannot escape the dreadful possibility of catastrophe by miscalculation. But we can reach the right decisions on the myriad subordinate problems which each new day poses, and we can thereby make our contribution and perhaps the most that can be reasonably expected of us in 1963 to the preservation of peace. It is here that the United Nations has served us – not perfectly, but well. And in enhancing the possibilities that the Organization may serve us better, we serve and bring closer our most cherished goals.

I would mention briefly today two particular issues which are of deep concern to all men: disarmament and the establishment of true equality among men. Disarmament has become the urgent imperative of our time. I do not say this because I equate the absence of arms to peace, or because I believe that bringing an end to the nuclear arms race automatically guarantees the peace, or because the elimination of nuclear warheads from the arsenals of the world will bring in its wake that change in attitude requisite to the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. Disarmament is vital today, quite simply, because of the immense destructive capacity of which men dispose.

Ethiopia supports the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty as a step towards this goal, even though only a partial step. Nations can still perfect weapons of mass destruction by underground testing. There is no guarantee against the sudden, unannounced resumption of testing in the atmosphere.

The real significance of the treaty is that it admits of a tacit stalemate between the nations which negotiated it, a stalemate which recognizes the blunt, unavoidable fact that none would emerge from the total destruction which would be the lot of all in a nuclear war, a stalemate which affords us and the United Nations a breathing space in which to act.

Here is our opportunity and our challenge. If the nuclear powers are prepared to declare a truce, let us seize the moment to strengthen the institutions and procedures which will serve as the means for the pacific settlement of disputes among men. Conflicts between nations will continue to arise. The real issue is whether they are to be resolved by force, or by resort to peaceful methods and procedures, administered by impartial institutions. This very Organization itself is the greatest such institution, and it is in a more powerful United Nations that we seek, and it is here that we shall find, the assurance of a peaceful future.

Were a real and effective disarmament achieved and the funds now spent in the arms race devoted to the amelioration of man’s state; were we to concentrate only on the peaceful uses of nuclear knowledge, how vastly and in how short a time might we change the conditions of mankind. This should be our goal.

When we talk of the equality of man, we find, also, a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge to breathe new life into the ideals enshrined in the Charter, an opportunity to bring men closer to freedom and true equality. and thus, closer to a love of peace.

The goal of the equality of man which we seek is the antithesis of the exploitation of one people by another with which the pages of history and in particular those written of the African and Asian continents, speak at such length. Exploitation, thus viewed, has many faces. But whatever guise it assumes, this evil is to be shunned where it does not exist and crushed where it does. It is the sacred duty of this Organization to ensure that the dream of equality is finally realized for all men to whom it is still denied, to guarantee that exploitation is not reincarnated in other forms in places whence it has already been banished.

As a free Africa has emerged during the past decade, a fresh attack has been launched against exploitation, wherever it still exists. And in that interaction so common to history, this in turn, has stimulated and encouraged the remaining dependent peoples to renewed efforts to throw off the yoke which has oppressed them and its claim as their birthright the twin ideals of liberty and equality. This very struggle is a struggle to establish peace, and until victory is assured, that brotherhood and understanding which nourish and give life to peace can be but partial and incomplete.

In the United States of America, the administration of President Kennedy is leading a vigorous attack to eradicate the remaining vestige of racial discrimination from this country. We know that this conflict will be won and that right will triumph. In this time of trial, these efforts should be encouraged and assisted, and we should lend our sympathy and support to the American Government today.

Last May, in Addis Ababa, I convened a meeting of Heads of African States and Governments. In three days, the thirty-two nations represented at that Conference demonstrated to the world that when the will and the determination exist, nations and peoples of diverse backgrounds can and will work together. in unity, to the achievement of common goals and the assurance of that equality and brotherhood which we desire.

On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

The United Nations has done much, both directly and indirectly to speed the disappearance of discrimination and oppression from the earth. Without the opportunity to focus world opinion on Africa and Asia which this Organization provides, the goal, for many, might still lie ahead, and the struggle would have taken far longer. For this, we are truly grateful.

But more can be done. The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome. In pursuance of resolutions adopted at the Addis Ababa Summit Conference, African States have undertaken certain measures in the economic field which, if adopted by all member states of the United Nations, would soon reduce intransigence to reason. I ask, today, for adherence to these measures by every nation represented here which is truly devoted to the principles enunciated in the Charter.

I do not believe that Portugal and South Africa are prepared to commit economic or physical suicide if honorable and reasonable alternatives exist. I believe that such alternatives can be found. But I also know that unless peaceful solutions are devised, counsels of moderation and temperance will avail for naught; and another blow will have been dealt to this Organization which will hamper and weaken still further its usefulness in the struggle to ensure the victory of peace and liberty over the forces of strife and oppression. Here, then, is the opportunity presented to us. We must act while we can, while the occasion exists to exert those legitimate pressures available to us, lest time run out and resort be had to less happy means.

Does this Organization today possess the authority and the will to act? And if it does not, are we prepared to clothe it with the power to create and enforce the rule of law? Or is the Charter a mere collection of words, without content and substance, because the essential spirit is lacking? The time in which to ponder these questions is all too short. The pages of history are full of instances in which the unwanted and the shunned nonetheless occurred because men waited to act until too late. We can brook no such delay.

If we are to survive, this Organization must survive. To survive, it must be strengthened. Its executive must be vested with great authority. The means for the enforcement of its decisions must be fortified, and, if they do not exist, they must be devised. Procedures must be established to protect the small and the weak when threatened by the strong and the mighty. All nations which fulfill the conditions of membership must be admitted and allowed to sit in this assemblage.

Equality of representation must be assured in each of its organs. The possibilities which exist in the United Nations to provide the medium whereby the hungry may be fed, the naked clothed, the ignorant instructed, must be seized on and exploited for the flower of peace is not sustained by poverty and want. To achieve this requires courage and confidence. The courage, I believe, we possess. The confidence must be created, and to create confidence we must act courageously.

The great nations of the world would do well to remember that in the modern age even their own fates are not wholly in their hands. Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse? It is not only the small and the weak who must scrupulously observe their obligations to the United Nations and to each other. Unless the smaller nations are accorded their proper voice in the settlement of the world’s problems, unless the equality which Africa and Asia have struggled to attain is reflected in expanded membership in the institutions which make up the United Nations, confidence will come just that much harder. Unless the rights of the least of men are as assiduously protected as those of the greatest, the seeds of confidence will fall on barren soil.

The stake of each one of us is identical – life or death. We all wish to live. We all seek a world in which men are freed of the burdens of ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease. And we shall all be hard-pressed to escape the deadly rain of nuclear fall-out should catastrophe overtake us.

When I spoke at Geneva in 1936, there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the League of Nations. I am neither the first, nor will I be the last head of state to address the United Nations, but only I have addressed both the League and this Organization in this capacity. The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none. This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image. And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.”