Jim Bacon made and important comment on the 18 March A WRAP post.

That post now has a number of comments and has slipped into history status. This response would require at least five comments due to the limit on comment length of Blogger so it is a new posted. This comment repeats all of Mr. Bacon’s original comment.

We hope this post clarifies EMR’s view:


Jim Bacon said:

“EMR and Observer appear to be disappointed that I returned from my vacation with the same insistence that the impending collapse of federal and state agency finances is the most urgent and massive problem facing the United States.”

EMR cannot speak for Observer but as to EMR, that is a correct characterization. One of the great benefits of travel is to come back with a new perspective. That has been the case every time EMR has returned from Hawaii.

EMR’s disappointment is NOT because EMR thinks Agency debt / deficits are NOT important. (Yes, a double negative.)

EMR KNOWS Agency debt / deficits are important. However, Agency debt / deficits are a symptom of a much larger problem – Agency structure dysfunction.

More important, the Agency debt / deficit CANNOT be solved without broad citizen understandings of and willingness to act on at least three Fundamental Transformations.

To solve the Agency debt / deficit problem – and all the other problems, including the many upon which EMR and Mr. Bacon agree – there must be a coalition of interests, not a “this is the most important one and the rest of you need to get on my bandwagon.”

That is especially true if the Agency debt / deficit problem is blamed on ‘others’ who occupy empty pigeon holes and who are just too stubborn or stupid to understand why THEY must change.

When MGM says that going after one or another problem as ‘the most important’ is a ‘waste of time,’ EMR suspects he means that ‘times is a wasting.’ There is not time to get it right on issue A and then move to issue B, then C, then D,…

In a democracy there must be agreement on the need for action and the only way to get a critical mass of support is to address A, B, C … Z.

Citizen will not yet support solutions to this or that problem because they do not yet see breadth of the systemic dysfunctions – economic, social and physical. In EMR’s view, they will never get there picking on one problem at a time.

“Frankly, I cannot see how it can be argued otherwise.”

Hopefully, we can come to a consensus on why this it not a wise course – especially for those like Jim Bacon who see much more of the full spectrum of reality than the average single issue advocate.



“Of course, I agree that dysfunctional human settlement patterns create a massive drain on economic efficiency and productivity and a detriment to the quality of life.”

Mr. Bacon and EMR have long agreed on this point.

“Of course, I agree that our society is draining down natural capital, and we will pay the price for atrocities committed upon the environment.”

That is good but these are TWO different topics.

An intelligent harvest / use / plan for replacement (substitution) of Natural Capital is possible without committing ‘atrocities.’ The fact that atrocities have been committed, and are continuing to be committed, is topic one.

Far more important is the fact that the ‘more developed’ Regions and nation-states living on Natural Capital made accessible by technological ‘advances’ has distorted ALL the parameters of a sustainable civilization.

It is as if every Household, every Enterprise, every Institution and YES, every Agency has had a no-limits checking account ECONOMIC context AND a no need to be civil or cooperative SOCIAL context AS WELL AS a ‘there is no tomorrow’ perspective on the physical environment.

Yes, part of this Mass OverConsumption has ‘helped’ Regions outside the US. However, many did not want that help, much of the help was really ‘help’ for US Enterprises (The Banana Republics) and to further US interests (cheap oil to support dysfunctional settlement patterns). Fighting World War I and II, the Marshall Plan, etc. were great but there are many more examples of wasting resources – including Natural Capital – to meet questionable objectives.

EMR wishes he knew of a way to better express the huge gulf between

1) Citizen, Enterprise, Institution and Agency expectations, and

2) Finite reality

That has resulted over the past 200 years from living off of Natural Capital – life on blueberry hill / big rock candy mountain.

As Mr. Bacon knows from having reviewed an early draft of ENOUGH?, that EMR perspective is that the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East will bring the fact that there is NOT ENOUGH into focus, sooner rather than later.

“(I don’t share the alarmism about global warming, but there are plenty of other environmental problems that I find very worrisome).”

On this issue a compromise is to agree to call it ‘climate change’ and wait until the flock of Black Swans is so large that they CANNOT be ignored, regardless of what they are called.

“Where I part company is over the idea that DHSP (dysfunctional human settlement patterns) and EC (environmental collapse) take precedence over all other problems, and that all other problems can largely be seen as sub-sets of DHSP and EC.”

If this is ‘where we part company,’ we have NOT parted company.

THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE documents that human settlement patterns have controlling impact on the economic, social and physical well being of humans and their Organizations (Agencies, Enterprises, Institutions and Households)

However, TRILO-G makes it clear that a Fundamental Transformation of human settlement patterns will NOT be possible without a Fundamental Transformation of governance structure …


… and Fundamental Transformation of the economic system from one based on competition and consumption to one that gives equal weight to cooperation, resiliency and rational regulation to serve the interest of all citizens.

(More on that below with respect to Vocabulary and conceptual framework.)

To summerize: Functional human settlement patterns are NOT more important than a debt / deficit solution, they are both – along with other problems facing civilization – dependent on comprehensive solutions – the Three Fundamental Transformations noted above for starters.

Synergy’s current work on CITIZEN MEDIA, THE NEXT STEP, on PRIMER and on ENOUGH?, is driven by the realization that the other projects (THE CURRENT TRAJECTORY and ALPHA VIL 21 as well as WHAT COMES AFTER THE CAR) which ARE related to the human settlement patterns (The Affordable and Accessible Housing Crisis, The Mobility and Access Crisis and The Helter Skelter Crisis) will go no where without:

1) A source of information that citizens can rely on to make intelligent decisions in the voting booth and in the marketplace (CITIZEN MEDIA, THE NEXT STEP)

2) A Vocabulary with which to reach consensus on comprehensive Conceptual Frameworks, (PRIMER) and

3) Enough economic, social and physical resources to create a sustainable trajectory for civilization (ENOUGH?)

These are the VERY SAME things that are required to achieve solve the Agency debt / deficit Crisis.



Jim Bac
on further stated:

“The federal budget deficit may be related tangentially [to DHSP and EC], but for the most part it is an independent phenomenon.”

Not really.

Beyond the John Muir’s “everything tied to everything else”paradigm for both causes and solutions, there is this reality:

The Agency debt / deficit problem is a result of the structure of governance. Until the structure is changed – move the level of decision to the levels (yes, levelS) of impact, there will continue to be an Agency debt / deficit problem. The Agency debt / deficit problem is the logical course of action for those at the state and federal level who are elected by uninformed citizens and must serve the interests of those who pay for their elections. All those problems are Agency structure problems.

“If we fixed DHSP and EC tomorrow, the national government still would be only a decade or two away from insolvency.”

Not necessarily.

If citizens understood the need to address DHSP and EC they would ALSO understand the need to eliminate the Agency debt / deficit problem.

Fairly allocating location-variable costs in a first step to cure DHSP and EC AND an important part of solving the Agency debt / deficit problem.

Also note that the final beneficiaries of the Agency debt / deficit problem is the top 5 percent of the Ziggurat. All the welfare queens in the country have not taken home as much as the TARP (and non TARP) executives. But it is those at the top of the Ziggurat who make the political Clan contributions. See AFTERSHOCK. (More on this when to get to Vocabulary.)

“The reason I believe that fiscal solvency is the most urgent issue is that it is only a decade or two away. (Some people think it is only three or four *years* away.) Environmental collapse is down the road.”

Again, not necessarily.

It depends on how one defines ‘environmental collapse.’ In a sense, Peak Oil IS an environmental collapse.

The rising price of food and energy may be seen as a collapse. The economic incentive to shift grain production from food for poor Regions to fuel for rich Regions may be seen as a trigger to collapse.

Food prices were a trigger for the North Africa / Middle East Arab Spring. As you know we explore this in ENOUGH? (“If money to buy food and iPhones does not flow TO the Arab Street, blood will flow IN the Arab Street.)

“There will be no hope of solving our environmental issues if the federal government is functionally bankrupt. Cleaning up the environment will take a massive expenditure of capital, which simply will not be available.”

EMR is not sure this is the case.

Most of the ‘clean up’ will be paid for by the revenue stream created by ongoing programs. For example new sewerage plants to clean up surface water will be paid for from increased sewerage fees. Better agricultural practices will be paid for with higher food prices (AND NON INDUSTRIAL AG).

The REAL KEY will be if those in the bottom 90 percent of the Ziggurat have money to pay their bills.

(THEY WILL IF THEY GET A FAIR WAGE AND DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR DYSFUNCTIONAL MOBILITY AND ACCESS AND HOUSING SCATTERATION – just had to toss that in. This supports Observers comment on the recent post concerning progressive tax rates. )

“We can talk about achieving fundamental change in governance structures. I share that goal.”

That is great because the Agency debt / deficit problem is a RESULT of Agency (governance) structure as noted above.

“However, I am under no illusions that creating alpha region governments, alpha community governments and on down the line will solve the problems created by a federal government in which expenditures exceed revenues by roughly $1 trillion a year over the course of the economic cycle and in which interest payments on the debt will increasingly crowd out all expenditures of any kind.”

There must be Fundamental Transformation of governance structure (Agencies) up and down the scale. If there were functional governance structures at and below the Regional scale, the problems caused by kicking issues up to the federal level.

Pork fat is easier to trim, one pig at a time.

“To put this in terms that Observer might find familiar, we cannot put human settlement patterns and agencies on a sustainable trajectory without putting agency finances on a sustainable trajectory.”

That is very true.

However, the obverse is also true:

We cannot put Agency finances on a sustainable trajectory without citizen support for a range of Fundamental Transformations.

“But we have to be realistic. It is the work of a generation or longer (perhaps akin to the task of abolishing slavery) to bring about fundamental change in governance structures…”

The issue is NOT how fast we can COMPLETE Fundamental Transformations, the key is how fast majority of citizens understand the NEED to make those Transformations. See Chapter 29 of THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE concerning the 10 year process to transform governance structure. Once started, not completed, citizens can support other meaningful steps for all three Fundamental Transformations.

For example many would agree to a change in Social Security benefits if at the same time there was a change to allow interest rates to go up to 5 or 6 percent so all the money the oldsters saved could revive the cash flow they expected when they put the money away. The current fiscal policy of cheap interest so the big boys will ‘invest’ and ‘grow the economy’ must be seen for what it is – a short term strategy for those at the top of the Ziggurat to make even more than they are now… Professor Bartlett is a big help here. Thank you again Groveton.

“… and human settlement patterns….”

As EMR has noted repeatedly, the biggest change required to transform the pattern of human activity and land use is INSIDE CITIZENS HEADS. That is being proven out in the steps needed to achieve a sustainable trajectory in ALPHA VIL 21.

“assuming we can even persuade our fellow countrymen that fundamental change of the type we seek is even desirable.”

Recall what the five of us agreed in 2004 in Charlottesville that resulted in PROPERTY DYNAMICS.

Think where we would be if Friends of Virginia’s Future had the education program outlined in PART ELEVEN of TRILO-G when everyone’s property values went down 20 to 40 percent due to Enterprise, Agent and misinformed citizen greed! Outside R=30 it is still going down. See THE CURRENT TRAJECTORY.

“The collapse of the federal government will occur long before fundamental change takes place.”

But to prevent collapse in the economic, social and physical Spheres – including Agency collapse – there must have broad citizen agreement on the course of action not just convince ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ to abandon their positions and jump on a single issue band wagon, no matter how important some think that is.

“Let’s see how many people care about protecting the environment and investing in shared vehicle systems when unemployment hits 20%, Social Security/Medicare payments are being cut and the American empire (upon which the global trading system depends) is collapsing around us.”

That is EXACTLY why citizens must come to support solution of all the problems or humans (there will be few CITIZENS left) will not solve any of them.

See THE BOTTOM LINE which ACSGP posted as a comment following the 18 March A WRAP post. (EMR will copy and reorder those two posts. Thanks to AZA for at least getting the first one up second.)



As promised above here is the note on Vocabulary and Conceptual Framework.

EMR has stressed to Groveton in their exchanges:

While it may seem like a pain, citizens must come to grips with the use of a robust Vocabulary and comprehensive Conceptual Frameworks. (One will note that Groveton and Larry are still pounding away at one another about social security without regard to the fact that Social Security is an Agency program and insurance is an Enterprise program as noted in the 18 March A WRAP post.)

Mr. Bacon may recall that in his comments on the draft of THE LITMUS TEST in CITIZEN MEDIA, THE NEXT STEP he addressed the Fundamental Theses Three (“Competition is in the drivers seat of contemporary civilization”) by saying “I partially agree. But competition has been partially supplanted by rent seeking (at all levels of government) as an organizing principle for the economy.”)

‘RENT SEEKING’ and MONOPOLY behaviors ARE COMPETITIVE behaviors. They are not Cooperative behaviors.

Recall above the need to:

Balance competitive and consumptive activities with cooperative and conservative behaviors to achieve a sustainable trajectory.

On a finite planet with limited resources, there is NO alternative.

Markets only work:

If all citizen have resources to participate in the market AND

There are effective and fair regulation by Agencies to protect citizens from unsustainable competitive behaviors – that includes monopoly and rent seeking behaviors among others. See again THE BOTTOM LINE.

Agencies will only develop rational regulations and sustainable budget / debt / deficit strategies if Agencies at all scales of governance evolve to reflect economic, social and physical reality.

That will only happen when there is wide-spread agreement on Vocabulary and Conceptual Frameworks – such as THE ESTATES MATRIX.

That is a wrap.


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