Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6 2010: Our Daily Bread, or Not, As the Case May Be...


Detroit Publishing Co. Milk Runner 1903
"New Orleans milk cart"


The DVD Is Out !!



Stoneleigh and Ilargi: Dear TAE readers,

The DVD version of Stoneleigh’s acclaimed lecture "A Century of Challenges" is now available by clicking the top button in our right hand side column. Production, handling and shipping is handled by CG Publishing in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The sales of the DVD will go a long way towards funding The Automatic Earth in 2011.

We have had incredibly generous amounts of donations over the past year, and we truly are deeply and humbly grateful to all of our donors and supporters, but if we are to go where we want to be, we’ll need both more revenue and a more steady and reliable source of it.

Or look at it this way: in 2010 we're not doing a Christmas Fund Drive as such, but we offer you the DVD instead as a bonus for your donations.

So put lots of those DVD's under all of your families’ and friends’ Christmas trees, and give every single one of your dearest not some trinket or gadget, but something of real value!!


Kindly and humbly yours,

Stoneleigh and Ilargi









Ilargi: Thought it might be wise to insert a little warning: if you think it wise to disagree with Stoneleigh on the following essay, and we do encourage discussion, do make sure that you do come prepared. She's an expert on this issue too. It's very close to her heart, and will undoubtedly prove to be highly controversial. But do your homework before chiming in!











Stoneleigh: We often write, at least in the TAE comments section (link at the bottom of the page for those who have yet to find it), about elements of preparedness. One of the topics that has often sparked heated discussion is food. Since people need to be thinking about what they can grow and store, and what nutrients they need, I thought I would address the issue in an intro.

There are very many misconceptions about food, as about many other aspects of life where the received wisdom is fundamentally wrong (including our usual topic, finance). As in other cases, this institutionalized misinformation harms real people every day, yet it is almost impossible to mount a challenge from within the system because the system protects its entrenched doctrines from scrutiny.

Research is funded by vested interests (for whom the status quo is highly profitable), which shapes the questions asked and the answers obtained. Fundamental contradictions and inconvenient data are ignored. We here at TAE are contrarians in the habit of shining light in dark places, so this seems a natural place to challenge received wisdom on a new front.

I was once a biologist, hence reading through the scientific literature on nutrition was not a problem. Also, I have personally lived this particular story. I know first-hand the harm (both physical and psychological) that misinformation in this field has caused to so many people.

For those who would like vastly more detail than I intend to provide, I strongly suggest that they read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. It is the most exhaustive, and simply the best nutritional review out there. The CBC Radio documentary The Heart of the Matter and the CBC TV documentary My Big Fat Diet are also very much worth your time. As it happens, the latter production highlights the important health research of a TAE reader who I have met on my travels.

In the developed world, we have seen an explosion in the incidence of the 'diseases of civilization' - heart disease, cancer, hypertension, chronic inflammation, diabetes and obesity. The incidence of all of these is vanishingly small in populations eating a traditional diet (or paleo-diet), but once such people arrive here, and begin consuming the same industrial food-like-substances that developed world populations eat, their incidence of morbidity of all kinds increases dramatically.

There are clearly common factors at work, which affect newcomers, and a large percentage of the population born in the developed world, but not the whole population. This is an important point to note, because our metabolisms are not all the same, as the received wisdom would have us believe. Some of us possess tolerances that others do not, and it is all too common for those who possess such tolerances to be highly critical of those who do not, and who therefore suffer the consequences of a modern lifestyle.

We are told that diet-related health problems are the result of eating too much fat and too little fibre, while doing too little exercise. We are told to limit the consumption of fat, especially saturated fat, substitute more carbohydrate and eat more fibre. If we are carrying stored mass that we are not comfortable with, we are told that we should restrict calories, especially fat, and burn off excess through exercise.

If we fail to burn off the excess in this way, we are told that we must be either greedy, or lazy, or both. Moral judgements are very common in the field of nutrition, yet these are uninformed and highly unfair.

The clearest factor showing a huge increase in consumption paralleling the increase in the incidence of the 'diseases of civilization' is not fat, of which paleo-diets contain substantial percentages, but sugar and other refined carbohydrates. In the developed world we commonly pump vast quantities of these cheap substances into everything we eat, especially the prepared foods that we eat so much of. Virtually all prepared foods contain large quantities of high-fructose corn syrup for instance, which is cheap thanks to financial subsidies to corn production.

We need to understand why the consumption of these substances has the dramatic effect that it does in so many people. To start with, sugar is highly addictive. Since sweet foods are so rarely poisonous in the wild, we evolved a taste for them. Since they were rare, we had no need to evolve an off-switch for them either.

Now we are surrounded by sugar in a myriad forms. Adding it to so many foods makes them more palatable, and hence more profitable. Sugar, especially fructose, disables our satiety mechanism, so that if we are eating something sweet, we tend to eat more of it without realizing that we have consumed enough.

The food industry cashes in selling us addictive foods, and then cashes in again by feeding on our insecurities about the resulting health effects, especially weight gain. As over-consumption of carbohydrates promotes a state of chronic inflammation, to which the body responds by producing cholesterol, the pharmaceutical industry can also profit by promoting cholesterol-controlling drugs. These attack the symptom, not the disease, leaving us just as prone to heart disease as before, but poorer. The status quo is highly profitable in all ways. No wonder it has been so difficult to challenge.

Our bodies exist in a life-sustaining state of homeostasis, meaning that they must maintain physical and chemical parameters within certain boundaries. One of these factors is our blood-sugar level. If our diets chronically interfere with this factor, our bodies must constantly act to bring it back under control. This means producing high levels of insulin, especially in response to a rapid spike in blood-sugar. A high level of insulin causes blood-sugar to crash and packs away the excess as fat in adipose tissue. 

For many people, chronic consumption of sugar leads to chronic over-production of insulin - hyperinsulinemia, or metabolic syndrome. At this point, a carbohydrate intolerance has been developed. The person will likely gain weight, while being hungry most of the time (specifically craving sugars) and lacking in energy. Essentially, the body cells are being deprived of nutrition as the excess insulin packages away what is consumed before it can be used. The body then lowers its activity level in response to what it perceives as  state of starvation.

Continuing to eat carbohydrates will have different effects depending on the person. Either the adipose tissue will develop insulin resistance (cease to be sensitive to insulin), in which case the person will eventually develop type II diabetes, or the adipose tissue remains sensitive to insulin, in which case the person continues to gain weight. Rather than being over-weight because they do little exercise, they do little exercise because the vicious circle of their diet deprives them of the energy to exercise, as well as making movement uncomfortable in extreme cases.

Some populations are much more susceptible to developing metabolic syndrome than others, with First Nations people being among the most sensitive of all. In contrast, many people from northern Europe are much less sensitive than most, and can therefore get away with consuming a modern diet without paying the same price. This is luck, not a justification for moral superiority over those with different metabolisms, but all too often the prevailing approach is unjustifiably judgmental. A modern diet simply poisons a large number of people.

Getting out of the vicious circle necessarily involves no longer eating the substances which cause insulin spikes, in other words eliminating the vast majority of carbohydrates from the diet, especially the simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. It means no bread, pasta, cereals, rice, potatoes, desserts and not too much fruit (especially very sweet fruits like apples and grapes). Since these foods are addictive, the withdrawal process will be uncomfortable, but it does not last forever. Eventually the taste for sugar disappears.

The sweetness receptors are reset, so that many things taste pleasantly sweet which did not before, and truly sweet things taste revoltingly sweet. Taking this step, and sticking to it permanently, breaks the cycle of morbidity. It keeps insulin levels under control, thereby stabilizing appetite at a much lower level. As body cells are now adequately nourished, there is energy available for exercise, and likely to be a desire to exercise as well. 

Excess weight falls off in the absence of high insulin levels. In normal people, stored fat typically cycles in and out of adipose tissue. In people with metabolic syndrome, the high insulin levels make that a one-way trip in, but drastically lowering insulin levels makes it a one-way trip out, almost independent of calories consumed.

One can eat bacon and eggs, cheese, cream, vegetables and many other very satisfying foods - losing pounds without being hungry. This is a diet that is much easier to stick to than most because people who eat like this are not hungry. As it is a necessary lifetime lifestyle shift for them, this is just as well.

It is important to note that treating metabolic syndrome cannot be done on a vegan diet, as difficult as that will be for some to hear. A vegan diet is necessarily far too high in carbohydrates for those who cannot tolerate them. Vegetarianism may be possible, but would be more difficult than being an omnivore (see the book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith).

We will all need to be physically tougher than we are now in order to cope with a future that will entail much more physical activity than we are used to, hence we need to exercise and develop the necessary musculature and fitness. Those with metabolic syndrome, which is a large percentage of the population, cannot do this if they do not address the diet issues that constantly undermine their efforts. Exercise is not a major component of weight loss, but it is nevertheless essential for a healthy life.

We all need to think about what foods we have available near where we live, what we might be able to grow and what we can store. Dried carbohydrates are easy to store, so there is a temptation to concentrate on them for food storage options. Food preservation can also rely very heavily on sugar or vinegar as preserving agents.

For people with metabolic syndrome, these would be a terrible choice to make, as relying on such supplies would leave them chronically hungry and tired. We need to think about storing nutrition in traditional forms, as our ancestors would once have done (pemmican for instance), and about producing or acquiring food with the nutrients we genuinely need. 

We do not need carbohydrates, but we do need proteins and fats. Proteins will be an issue for many, specially those who try to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in an area with a short growing season. The further north one lives, the greater the traditional reliance on animal products. Many ecosystems require grazing animals, and these are areas that cannot easily produce food that humans could eat directly. The use of animals does not in these cases increase the human energy footprint. 

What does increase the footprint in this way is feeding animals grains, which they did not evolve to eat and which therefore make them ill. We currently cope with this by feeding them large quantities of antibiotics, and destroying the effectiveness of these medicines in the process. If we are going to rely on animals for food, we must do so in a way that works with the animals' own metabolism and with natural ecosystems. If we grass-feed cattle, for instance, we produce animals which are themselves healthier, and which are much healthier for us to consume. 

Dietary fats will be a major issue going forward. We require a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids, but most of us eat a diet far too high in omega 6. Consuming too much omega 6 is an additional risk factor for chronic inflammation and therefore heart disease. Animals fed on an appropriate diet for them will have the right balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in their tissues, whereas grain-fed animals (whether beef or chickens or farmed fish) will have far too high a level of omega 6.  We should also consider nut crops, although woody agriculture has its own challenges.

Providing for our own nutritional needs is going to be  a major undertaking in a period where we are vastly over carrying capacity as a species. As a start, we need to stop thinking of all calories as equal, because a body is not a simple calorimeter. We are creatures with complex metabolisms, and we are not all created equal. Trying to work with own own bodies and with the ecosystems in which we live are incredibly important factors.












Mounting Debts by States Stoke Fears of Crisis
by Michael Cooper and Mary Williams Walsh - New York Times

The State of Illinois is still paying off billions in bills that it got from schools and social service providers last year. Arizona recently stopped paying for certain organ transplants for people in its Medicaid program. States are releasing prisoners early, more to cut expenses than to reward good behavior. And in Newark, the city laid off 13 percent of its police officers last week.

While next year could be even worse, there are bigger, longer-term risks, financial analysts say. Their fear is that even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt — several trillion dollars’ worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view — that it could overwhelm them in the next few years.

"It seems to me that crying wolf is probably a good thing to do at this point," said Felix Rohatyn, the financier who helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s. Some of the same people who warned of the looming subprime crisis two years ago are ringing alarm bells again. Their message: Not just small towns or dying Rust Belt cities, but also large states like Illinois and California are increasingly at risk.

Municipal bankruptcies or defaults have been extremely rare — no state has defaulted since the Great Depression, and only a handful of cities have declared bankruptcy or are considering doing so. But the finances of some state and local governments are so distressed that some analysts say they are reminded of the run-up to the subprime mortgage meltdown or of the debt crisis hitting nations in Europe.

Analysts fear that at some point — no one knows when — investors could balk at lending to the weakest states, setting off a crisis that could spread to the stronger ones, much as the turmoil in Europe has spread from country to country.

Mr. Rohatyn warned that while municipal bankruptcies were rare, they appeared increasingly possible. And the imbalances are so large in some places that the federal government will probably have to step in at some point, he said, even if that seems unlikely in the current political climate. "I don’t like to play the scared rabbit, but I just don’t see where the end of this is," he added.

Resorting to Fiscal Tricks
As the downturn has ground on, some of the worst-hit cities and states have resorted to fiscal sleight of hand to stay afloat, helping them close yawning budget gaps each year, but often at great future cost. Few workers with neglected 401(k) retirement accounts would risk taking out second mortgages to invest in stocks, gambling that the investment gains would be enough to build bigger nest eggs and repay the loans.

But that is just what Illinois, which has been failing to make the required annual payments to its pension funds for years, is doing. It borrowed $10 billion in 2003 and used the money to invest in its pension funds. The recession sent their investment returns below their target, but the state must repay the bonds, with interest. The solution? Illinois sold an additional $3.5 billion worth of pension bonds this year and is planning to borrow $3.7 billion more for its pension funds.

It is the long-term problems of a handful of states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, that financial analysts worry about most, fearing that their problems might precipitate a crisis that could hurt other states by driving up their borrowing costs. But it is the short-term budget woes that nearly all states are facing that are preoccupying elected officials.

Illinois is not the only state behind on its bills. Many states, including New York, have delayed payments to vendors and local governments because they had too little cash on hand to make them. California paid vendors with i.o.u.’s last year. A handful of other states, worried about their cash flow, delayed paying tax refunds last spring. Now, just as the downturn has driven up demand for state assistance, many states are cutting back.

The demand for food stamps has been rising significantly in Idaho, but tight budgets led the state to close nearly a third of the field offices of the state’s Department of Health and Welfare, which take applications for them. As states have cut aid to cities, many have resorted to previously unthinkable cuts, laying off police officers and closing firehouses.

Those cuts in aid to cities and counties, which are expected to continue, are one reason some analysts say cities are at greater risk of bankruptcy or are being placed under outside oversight. Next year is unlikely to bring better news. States and cities typically face their biggest deficits after recessions officially end, as rainy-day funds are depleted and easy measures are exhausted.

This time is expected to be no different. The federal stimulus money increased the federal share of state budgets to over a third last year, from just over a quarter in 2008, according to a report issued last week by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. That money is set to run out next summer. Tax collections, meanwhile, are not expected to return to their pre-recession levels for another year or two, given that the housing market and broader economy remain weak and that unemployment remains high.

Scott D. Pattison, the budget association’s director, said that for states, next year could be "the worst year of this four- or five-year downturn period." And few expect the federal government to offer more direct aid to states, at least in the short term. Many members of the new Republican majority in the House campaigned against the stimulus, and Washington is debating the recommendations of a debt-reduction commission.

So some states are essentially borrowing to pay their operating costs, adding new debts that are not always clearly disclosed. Arizona, hobbled by the bursting housing bubble, turned to a real estate deal for relief, essentially selling off several state buildings — including the tower where the governor has her office — for a $735 million upfront payment. But leasing back the buildings over the next 20 years will ultimately cost taxpayers an extra $400 million in interest.

Many governments are delaying payments to their pension funds, which will eventually need to be made, along with the high interest — usually around 8 percent — that the funds are expected to earn each year. New York balanced its budget this year by shortchanging its pension fund. And in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie deferred paying the $3.1 billion that was due to the pension funds this year.

It is these growing hidden debts that make many analysts nervous. States and municipalities currently have around $2.8 trillion worth of outstanding bonds, but that number is dwarfed by the debts that many are carrying off their books. State and local pensions — another form of promised debt, guaranteed in some states by their constitutions — face hidden shortfalls of as much as $3.5 trillion by some calculations. And the health benefits that state and large local governments have promised their retirees going forward could cost more than $530 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office.

"Most financial crises happen in unpredictable ways, and they hit you when you’re not looking," said Jerome H. Powell, a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center who was an under secretary of the Treasury for finance during the bailout of the savings and loan industry in the early 1990s. "This one isn’t like that. You can see it coming. It would be sinful not to do something about this while there’s a chance."

So far, investors have bought states’ bonds eagerly, on the widespread understanding that states and cities almost never default. But in recent weeks the demand has diminished sharply. Last month, mutual funds that invest in municipal bonds reported a big sell-off — a bigger one-week sell-off, in fact, than they had when the financial markets melted down in 2008. And hedge funds are already seeking out ways to place bets against the debts of some states, with the help of their investment banks.

Of course, not all states are in as dire straits as Illinois or California. And the credit-rating agencies say that the risk of default is small. States and cities typically make a priority of repaying their bond holders, even before paying for essential services. Standard & Poor’s issued a report this month saying that the crises that states and municipalities were facing were "more about tough decisions than potential defaults."

Change in Ratings
The credit ratings of a number of local governments have improved this year, not because their finances have strengthened somewhat, but because the ratings agencies have changed the way they analyze governments. The new higher ratings, which lower the cost of borrowing, emphasize the fact that municipal defaults have been much rarer than corporate defaults.

This October, Moody’s issued a report explaining why it now rates all 50 states, even Illinois, as better credit risks than a vast majority of American non-financial companies.
One reason: the belief that the federal government is more likely to bail out a teetering state than a bankrupt company. "The federal government has broadly channeled cash to all state governments during recent recessions and provided support to individual states following natural disasters," Moody’s explained, adding that there was no way of being sure how Washington would respond to a bond default by a state, since it had not happened since the 1930s.

But some analysts fear the ratings are too sanguine, recalling that the ratings agencies also dismissed the possibility that a subprime crisis was brewing. While most agree that defaults are unlikely, they fear that as states struggle with their growing debts, investors could decide not to buy the debt of the weakest state or local governments. That would force a crisis, since states cannot operate if they cannot borrow. Such a crisis could then spread to healthier states, making it more expensive for them to borrow, if Europe is an example.

Meredith Whitney, a bank analyst who was among the first to warn of the impact the subprime mortgage meltdown would have on banks, is warning that she sees similar problems with state and local government finances. "The state situation reminded me so much of the banks, pre-crisis," she said this fall on CNBC.

There are eerie similarities between the subprime debt crisis and the looming municipal debt woes. Among them:
  • Just as housing was once considered a sure bet — prices would never fall all across the country at the same time, conventional wisdom suggested — municipal bonds have long been considered an investment safe enough for grandmothers, because states could always raise taxes to pay their bondholders. Now that proposition is being tested. Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, considered bankruptcy this year because it faced $68 million in debt payments related to a failed incinerator, which is more than the city’s entire annual budget. But officials there have resisted raising taxes.

  • Much of the debt of states and cities is hidden, since it is off the books, just as the amount of mortgage-related debt turned out to be underestimated. States and municipalities often understate their pension liabilities, in part by using accounting methods that would not be allowed in the private sector. Joshua D. Rauh, an associate professor of finance at Northwestern University, and Robert Novy-Marx, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Rochester, calculated that the true unfunded liability for state and local pension plans is roughly $3.5 trillion.

  • The states and many cities still carry good ratings, and those issuing warnings are dismissed as alarmists, reminding some analysts of the lead up to the subprime crisis. Now states are bracing for more painful cuts, more layoffs, more tax increases, more battles with public employee unions, more requests to bail out cities. And in the long term, as cities and states try to keep up on their debts, the very nature of government could change as they have less money left over to pay for the services they have long provided.


Richard Ravitch, the lieutenant governor of New York, is among those warning that states are on an unsustainable path, and that their disclosures of pension and health care obligations are often misleading. And he worries how long it can last. "They didn’t do it with bad motives," he said. "Ninety-five percent of them didn’t understand what they were doing. They did it because it was easier than taxing people or cutting benefits. We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we can’t do that anymore. I don’t know where that is, but I know we’re close."




U.S. Investment Fraud Crackdown Nets 343 Criminal Defendants
by Justin Blum - Bloomberg

A crackdown on financial frauds including Ponzi schemes and stock market manipulation has resulted in U.S. enforcement actions against 343 criminal defendants and 189 civil defendants since August, the Justice Department said. The cases involved more than $8.3 billion in estimated losses in the criminal cases and $2.1 billion in the civil cases, Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference in Washington today.




Default, delusion and deceit (and other ways to spring the debt trap)
by Roger Bootle - Telegraph

Another month, another crisis. A cottage industry has sprung up in the City comparing the financing needs of the most vulnerable eurozone members with the bail-out funds already, or potentially, available. This is a delusionary diversion.

The finances of the state can no longer be divorced from the finances of the banking system. The cost of supporting its banks has been a major factor behind Ireland's government debt surging from 25pc of GDP in 2007 to around 100pc of GDP this year. And in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, bank liabilities amount to between 260pc and 350pc of GDP.

Moreover, there is the little matter of how lenders are to get their money back. As most of us recognise only too well, there are two kinds of financial problem.

The first is when you face a temporary shortage of the readies, even though your financial position is fundamentally sound. If you cannot access your assets in an effective way to bridge the gap, there is a short-term financing need. This is a problem of liquidity.

The second is when your expenditure exceeds your income for a sustained period. If this persists, then eventually your liabilities will exceed your assets. This is a solvency problem. The two can sometimes be difficult to distinguish. Liquidity problems can readily morph into solvency problems, and solvency problems usually manifest themselves as liquidity problems also. But you cannot deal with a solvency problem by dealing with liquidity alone.

The difficulties faced by Mr Micawber were decidedly of the solvency type. So also are the problems of the European governments that have found themselves in trouble. Lenders to them may pretend that their money is safe but in practice it is not. To get it back the borrowers will have to so improve their fiscal position that by the time the loans are due, the money is available as a surplus over ordinary requirements, or other lenders will have to be prepared to step into the breach. But that will require that fiscal prospects will by that stage seem reasonable.

Many eurozone governments have spent and borrowed freely for years to finance current expenditure. They have few, if any, productive assets to show for it. Their debts are now so large that lenders require higher interest rates to lend to them. But these higher rates make the financial position worse – which causes lenders to be still more reluctant, and so on. This situation is known as the debt trap. In this regard the near 6pc interest rate required by the participants in Ireland's bail-out package imposes a very heavy burden.

There are five ways of escape.

First, try to muddle through and hope that years of sustained economic growth will cause the weight of these debts to fall and for the burden to go unnoticed amidst increasing prosperity, so that it is unclear who has picked up the tab. This is far and away the best solution – if you can manage it. But in the vulnerable countries GDP is struggling – or even contracting.

Second, engineer a bout of inflation to reduce the real value of the liabilities. In this way just about everyone in society will pay – but hopefully no one will notice. (Being able to devalue your currency potentially helps you achieve both the first and the second routes.) The trouble is that even if this solution were available for the eurozone as a whole, for each embattled member country it is not, as they do not have their own money.

Third, force those who caused the problems and gained from the years of extravagance to cough up. That would mean the bankers, property developers and politicians. This seems the fairest solution, but it is also the least likely. And, believe it or not, even they do not have enough dosh.

Fourth, slash government spending and make current and future taxpayers pick up the tab. This is the way that Ireland and Greece are trying to go. The trouble is that the situation may be so far gone that attempting a solution this way is impossible. It may even be so deflationary that it proves to be counter-productive.

The fifth way is to default. Perhaps you can make someone not involved in the process by which the government gets elected take a good part of the hit. This is where Johnny Foreigner comes in. You say: "Sorry old chaps, but that money that you thought we owed you is now 'restructured'. In the words of Monty Python, it is an ex-loan."

This is what is going to happen. Huge amounts of money are going to be lost. At the moment, the prospective losers can afford it. But coming up in the lift are Portugal, Belgium and Spain. And then Italy. This looks eerily like the build-up to the financial crisis of two years ago. Perhaps the bail-out of Ireland is the Bear Stearns moment. Spain, or Italy, could be the Lehman moment.




Ilargi: Even though we could see this coming from miles away, it is still sickening: people on the verge of utter despair are being used as bait to get the richest 1% of Americans their tax cuts.

Obama Confident Of Landing Tax, Jobless Benefits Deal In Coming Days
by Jared A. Favole - Dow Jones Newswires

President Barack Obama is confident that he can settle an ongoing scuffle with Republican leaders in the coming days over taxes that were enacted under former President George W. Bush, Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton said Monday. Burton, speaking aboard Air Force One while Obama was en route to North Carolina, wouldn't provide details about what shape the deal would take but said it would include other proposals to lift the shaky economy.

Though details remain unknown, reports suggest a final package would likely include temporarily extending tax cuts across the board, including for top earners, and jobless benefits for the unemployed. A deal could also include an array of Obama's proposals to lift the economy, including tax breaks for businesses that hire unemployed workers and a refundable credit for low-income Americans. The stakes are high for the negotiations, as the tax cuts enacted under Bush are set to expire at year's end. Not having a deal in hand by then would result in an increase in taxes for the country and could threaten the nation's recovery.

Obama will renew his pitch to extend tax cuts for the middle class in a speech at a community college in North Carolina. He is expected to stress that tax breaks for top earners must be coupled with an extension of jobless benefits, which expired last week, for the unemployed.

Republican leaders have long said they want any extension of the tax cuts to include top earners amid concerns raising taxes on anyone would imperil the U.S. economic recovery. In addition to talking about taxes, Obama will press Congress and the private sector to help the U.S. achieve a "Sputnik" moment that would unleash investments in research, education and infrastructure. Burton said Obama won't lay out any new proposals in the speech, but will in the coming weeks and months. Burton declined to detail any of the potential new proposals.




Obama to Push Unemployment Benefits as Condition of Extending Tax Rates
by FOX News

Visiting a technical college in North Carolina,  President Obama is set to speak Monday on the need for private-public cooperation to make the U.S. more competitive while also laying down conditions on expiring tax rates, even as a deal between the White House and Congress is said to be in the works.  Tax rates approved 10 years ago are set to expire on Jan. 1 unless Congress takes action during the lame-duck session. 

While the president is expected to emphasize the need for more unemployment benefits as a condition of any deal to extend current rates, a White House official said Obama will also demand a renewal in other tax breaks included in the 2009 stimulus bill. "Without them, taxes would still rise for 95 percent of Americans. He will discuss the need to accelerate our recovery and make the tough choices necessary to reduce our deficit in the long run. Over the coming weeks and months, the President will continue to visit companies," the official said.

The president is also expected to emphasize the need to make workers more competitive in a global economy. He will call for a "Sputnik" moment that demonstrates -- the way the Soviet Union did with its 1957 earth-orbiting satellite -- a major advancement in innovation and technology that led to the space race "The most important contest we face as a nation is not between Democrats and Republicans but between America and our economic competitors around the world," the official said. 

The other expiring provisions include a tax credit for lower- and middle-class wage earners, even if they don't make enough to pay federal income taxes, breaks to offset college tuition and breaks for companies that hire the unemployed.

On Sunday, lawmakers across the morning news shows emphasized compromise. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it's clear to him taxes will not be raised for anyone next year -- and that unemployment compensation for those jobless beyond 99 weeks could be extended. McConnell did not say how long tax rates would be extended though unemployment compensation could last another year. 

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," suggested a deal would be for tax rates to last considerably longer than one year.  "I think that most folks believe that the recipe would include at least an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed, and an extension of all of the tax rates for all Americans for some period of time," Kyl said. "It could happen. I'm not going to rule it out," added Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who appeared with Kyl.

But some liberal lawmakers, like Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said the GOP is "absolutely prepared to deny unemployment insurance" to people." "They've said no, we're willing to hold that hostage so that we can give the wealthiest people in the country a bonus tax cut," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Sources told Fox News on Sunday that Obama is trying to "sell" liberals in the House on his potential acceptance of tax rates across the board and for the wealthy, potentially marrying the cuts to jobless benefits, and he wants a deal done this week. A senior House aide told Fox News to expect things "to accelerate quickly on Monday."

The news of a potential breakthrough came after the Senate on Saturday voted down efforts to limit any extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the top-earning Americans. But as lawmakers fret over a growing deficit, even the purported tight-fisted among them acknowledge they need to come up with $265 billion next year to pay for the jobless aid as well as the gap in budget estimates based on current rates and a hike in taxes next year. 

Extending all the current rates would add $115 billion to deficit spending next year while extending jobless benefits for another year would cost $150 billion in unbudgeted spending. That number could grow to $800 billion over two years. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of Obama's deficit commission, told "Fox News Sunday" that short- and long-term priorities are different. 

"In the short term, I think it's imperative that we extend the tax cuts, at least for the middle class, because the economic consequences of a failure to extend the tax cuts are severe," he said. "But that doesn't take away from the fact we then have to pivot and have a longer term plan to control the debt and bring it down. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who is also a member of the commission said he doesn't want rates to increase for anybody, but spending must come down 

"We don't want no tax increases on nobody. Now, that may be poor grammar, but it's great economics," he said. "The cost of government has averaged 20 percent of the economy in the post-war era, and over the course of the next generation it's due to double." Durbin added that any talk about extending tax rates should be coupled with discussions on raising the debt ceiling. 

"I'm troubled. I know that in a few months we're going to have a debt ceiling vote ... and many of the people who are going to vote for this tax cut for the wealthiest people in America, adding to our deficit, lamenting that deficit, will refuse to vote on the debt ceiling out of principle," he said.




Let’s Not Make a Deal
by Paul Krugman - New York Times

Back in 2001, former President George W. Bush pulled a fast one. He wanted to enact an irresponsible tax cut, largely for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But there were Senate rules in place designed to prevent that kind of irresponsibility. So Mr. Bush evaded the rules by making the tax cut temporary, with the whole thing scheduled to expire on the last day of 2010.

The plan, of course, was to come back later and make the thing permanent, never mind the impact on the deficit. But that never happened. And so here we are, with 2010 almost over and nothing resolved.

Democrats have tried to push a compromise: let tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but extend tax cuts for the middle class. Republicans, however, are having none of it. They have been filibustering Democratic attempts to separate tax cuts that mainly benefit a tiny group of wealthy Americans from those that mainly help the middle class. It’s all or nothing, they say: all the Bush tax cuts must be extended. What should Democrats do?

The answer is that they should just say no. If G.O.P. intransigence means that taxes rise at the end of this month, so be it. Think about the logic of the situation. Right now, the Republicans see themselves as successful blackmailers, holding a clear upper hand. President Obama, they believe, wouldn’t dare preside over a broad tax increase while the economy is depressed. And they therefore believe that he will give in to their demands.

But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils.

Bear in mind that Republicans want to make those tax cuts permanent. They might agree to a two- or three-year extension — but only because they believe that this would set up the conditions for a permanent extension later. And they may well be right: if tax-cut blackmail works now, why shouldn’t it work again later?

America, however, cannot afford to make those cuts permanent. We’re talking about almost $4 trillion in lost revenue just over the next decade; over the next 75 years, the revenue loss would be more than three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending.

And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare. So the potential cost of giving in to Republican demands is high. What about the costs of letting the tax cuts expire? To be sure, letting taxes rise in a depressed economy would do damage — but not as much as many people seem to think.

A few months ago, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the impact of various tax options. A two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, it estimated, would lower the unemployment rate next year by between 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points compared with what it would be if the tax cuts were allowed to expire; the effect would be about twice as large in 2012. Those are significant numbers, but not huge — certainly not enough to justify the apocalyptic rhetoric one often hears about what will happen if the tax cuts are allowed to end on schedule.

Oh, and what about confidence? I’ve been skeptical about claims that budget deficits hurt the economy even in the short run, because they undermine confidence in the government’s long-run solvency. Advanced countries, I’ve argued, have a lot of fiscal leeway. But anything that makes permanent extension of obviously irresponsible tax cuts more likely also sends a strong signal to investors: it says, “Hey, we aren’t really an advanced country; we’re a banana republic!” And that can’t be good for the economy.

Last but not least: if Democrats give in to the blackmailers now, they’ll just face more demands in the future. As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown?

So Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is. Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand. Now is the time for him to prove them wrong.




Tax Fear May Move Bonuses Earlier
by Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson - New York Times

Congress is debating tax rates, and that has Wall Street nervously eyeing the calendar.

Worried that lawmakers will allow taxes to rise for the wealthiest Americans beginning next year, financial firms are discussing whether to move up their bonus payouts from next year to this month.

At stake is a portion of the hefty annual payouts that are a familiar part of the compensation culture on Wall Street, as well as a juicy target of popular anger. If Congress does not extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest income levels, a typical worker who earns a $1 million bonus would pay $40,000 to $50,000 more in taxes next year than this year, depending on base salary.

Goldman Sachs is one of the companies discussing how to time bonus season, according to three people who have been briefed on the discussions. Pay consultants who work with major Wall Street companies say that just about every other large bank has also considered such a move in recent weeks.

With tax politics in Washington unpredictable, bank executives have spent months sketching out several options for their bonus plans, including the possibility of an earlier payout. Lawmakers have been trading accusations across a partisan divide, but after this weekend, it appears likely that a compromise will extend the tax cuts for all income levels.

Even so, the banks’ discussions about bonus timing underscore how focused the industry is on protecting every dollar of pay. A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment. Bonus payouts are traditionally shrouded in secrecy; companies are required to disclose their top executives’ pay, but they do not disclose the size of their total bonus pools in their public filings or internally.

Goldman, not surprisingly, is the canary in the coal mine. It often announces its top executives’ bonuses before other firms, and the richness of its payouts sets the tone across the industry. This year the tax debate has imposed a new wrinkle, and executives at two large banks said their companies tentatively decided not to speed payouts, unless Goldman did. Then, these two executives said, they would consider paying early as a competitive measure, so that their workers were not upset.

These executives and the people briefed on the Goldman discussions spoke only on the condition of anonymity. Bonus timing is also being discussed at scores of public companies, beyond banks, for top executives who receive multimillion-dollar payouts around the turn of the year. At most companies outside the financial sector, an early bonus would help only a handful of executives, while on Wall Street, the benefit would apply to many more workers.

"This has been a topic of conversation among those of us who are involved in designing and administrating compensation plans," said Brian Foley, a pay consultant in White Plains, N.Y. "But I really would be surprised if anyone went down this path. This is a bounce-back year in terms of bonuses going up and probably not the time to draw attention to yourself."

Wall Street firms pay out billions of dollars in bonuses each year. In good years top executives can receive bonuses worth tens of millions of dollars. Even midlevel financial workers often earn above $250,000 a year, and they receive most of their compensation as bonuses paid early in the new year. Extending the tax cuts for all Americans with taxable income over $250,000 for joint filers ($200,000 for single filers) would cost the country about $40 billion next year, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, and it would cost $700 billion over the next decade.

Currently the highest rate for taxable income is 35 percent; that would increase to 39.6 percent if the Bush tax cuts expire this year. The top five Wall Street firms have put aside nearly $90 billion for total pay this year, and they are expected to raise that amount using their end of year earnings. That would make this year one of the best ever for bank pay.

As Mr. Foley said, much of the focus within banks is on the appearance of the payouts. Several senior banking executives received either no bonuses or modest ones in recent years, and with the taxpayer-financed bailouts receding, top executives are pushing to be paid well again. Some compensation consultants have been helping their clients devise new labels for the pay that are less likely to inflame the public. For instance, some banks are considering reducing the amount of their payouts that are labeled as bonuses, and instead shifting some to other categories like "long-term incentives."

Depending on how banks structure this part of the payout package, it might not represent much of a change for bankers, since it has long been standard practice to tie up some pay for a few years for retention purposes. But, some bankers said, the goal was to make the dollar amounts appear less offensive. Bankers are also discussing speeding up the way they award company stock. Many banks pay a substantial portion of bonuses in stock, rather than cash, and companies often have a multiyear delay between when those shares are awarded and when the employees can sell them. The tax bill does not come due until employees sell the shares, or own them outright.

Robert J. Jackson Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School who helped oversee the Treasury Department’s rules on compensation at bailed-out companies, said he would look carefully at footnotes in company filings to see if they accelerated executives’ stock awards. "Even companies who pay in stock instead of cash can structure it to be taxed at this year’s rates," Mr. Jackson said. "If it does happen, it may be a little tricky to see."

It is not uncommon for Wall Street to consider the tax consequences of its pay practices. Private firms like hedge funds often let workers choose when they’re paid. And until about a decade ago, Goldman allowed its partners to decide whether they received their bonuses in December or January. Back then, Goldman was an investment bank, and like other former investment banks, it closed its books at the end of November, making it easier to pay earlier.

One of the challenges for the banks in paying bonuses early would be coming out with exact amounts before the year is over and before they determine their final earnings — a lengthy process. Banks have in the past found ways to get around rules, or make their workers’ pay look lower than it actually was.

For instance, a year ago Goldman capped the pay of all of its London workers at £1 million each. But last summer, Goldman made it up to its partners in Britain, albeit quietly. The bank made dozens of multimillion-dollar stock grants to its partners there, according to a person briefed on their pay. Credit Suisse, in similar form, paid its British bankers summer cash bonuses to make up for their lower pay last year.




Jobless Recovery?: 25 Unemployment Statistics That Are Almost Too Depressing To Read
by MIchael Snyder - Economic Collapse

uess what?  Unemployment is up again!  That's right - even though Wall Street is swimming in cash and the Obama administration is declaring that "the recession is over", the U.S. unemployment rate has gone even higher.  So are you enjoying the jobless recovery?  The truth is that there should not be any talk of a "recovery" as long as the "official" unemployment rate remains at around 10 percent and the "real" unemployment continues to hover around 17 percent. 

There are millions and millions of American families that are living every day in deep pain because of the lack of jobs.  Meanwhile, there are all of these economic pundits that are declaring that we are just going to have to realize that chronic unemployment is the "new normal" and that if other nations can handle high rates of unemployment then so can we.  The most optimistic economists are projecting that we can perhaps get the unemployment rate down to around 8 percent by 2012.  On the other hand, there are many economists that are convinced that things are going to get even worse.

If you have never been unemployed, it can be hard to describe how soul-crushing it can be.  As the bills pile up and the financial obligations mount, the pressure can be debilitating.  Being unemployed for an extended period of time can easily plunge you into depression and grind your self-worth away to almost nothing. 

After getting rejected dozens of times (or even hundreds of times), many Americans simply give up.  There are countless marriages and countless families that are being ripped to shreds by financial pressure even as you read this.  When the money is gone and there is no job in sight it can be a really, really empty feeling.

Of course there is a whole lot more to life than money, but it can be difficult to tell that to someone who can barely sleep at night because of the intense pressure to find a job.

The vast majority of Americans have at least one family member or close friend that is looking for work right now.  Times are really, really tough and unfortunately the long-term outlook is very bleak.  We should have compassion on those who are out of work right now, because soon many of us may join them.

The following are 25 unemployment statistics that are almost too depressing to read....

#1 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate for November was 9.8 percent.  This was up from 9.6 percent in October, and it continues a trend of depressingly high unemployment rates.  The official unemployment number has been at 9.5 percent or higher for well over a year at this point.

#2 In November 2006, the "official" U.S. unemployment rate was just 4.5 percent.

#3 Most economists had been expecting the U.S. economy to add about 150,000 jobs in November.  Instead, it only added 39,000.

#4 In the United States today, there are over 15 million people who are "officially" considered to be unemployed for statistical purposes.  But everyone knows that the "real" number is even much larger than that.

#5 As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#6 The number of "persons not in the labor force" in the United States recently set another new all-time record.

#7 It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.

#8 When you throw in "discouraged workers" and "underemployed workers", the "real" unemployment rate in the state of California is actually about 22 percent.

#9 In America today there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.  In fact, there are now approximately 5 unemployed Americans for every single job opening.

#10 According to The New York Times, Americans that have been unemployed for five weeks or less are three times more likely to find a new job in the coming month than Americans that have been unemployed for over a year.

#11 The U.S. economy would need to create 235,120 new jobs a month to get the unemployment rate down to pre-recession levels by 2016.  Does anyone think that there is even a prayer that is going to happen?

#12 There are 9 million Americans that are working part-time for "economic reasons".  In other words, those Americans would gladly take full-time jobs if they could get them, but all they have been able to find is part-time work.

#13 In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States.

#14 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

#15 The United States has lost at least 7.5 million jobs since the recession began.

#16 Today, only about 40 percent of Ford Motor Company's 178,000 workers are employed in North America, and a big percentage of those jobs are in Canada and Mexico.

#17 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.

#18 Earlier this year, one poll found that 28% of all American households had at least one member that was looking for a full-time job.

#19 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#20 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#21 As the employment situation continues to stagnate, millions of American families have decided to cut back on things such as insurance coverage.  For example, the percentage of American households that have life insurance coverage is at its lowest level in 50 years.

#22 Unless Congress acts, and there is no indication that is going to happen, approximately 2 million Americans will stop receiving unemployment checks over the next couple of months.

#23 A poll that was released by the Pew Research Center back in June discovered that an astounding 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has experienced either unemployment, a pay decrease, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work since the economic downturn began.

#24 According to Richard McCormack, the United States has lost over 42,000 factories (and counting) since 2001.

#25 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

But this is what we get for creating the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  For decades we have been digging a deeper hole for ourselves by going into increasingly larger amounts of debt.  In America today, our entire economy is based on debt.  Even our money is debt.  We were fools if we ever thought this could go on forever.

Just think about it.  Have you ever gone out and run up a bunch of debt?  It can be a lot of fun sitting behind the wheel of a new car, running your credit cards up to the limit and buying a beautiful big house that you cannot afford.

But in the end what happens?

It always catches up with you.

Well, our collective debt is starting to catch up with us.  There is a sea of red ink on every level of American society.  It is only a matter of time before it destroys our economy.

If you think that things are bad now, just wait.  Things are going to get a whole lot worse.  A horrific economic collapse is coming, and it is going to be very, very painful.





China's credit bubble on borrowed time as inflation bites
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph

The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to take out protection against the risk of a sovereign default by China as one of its top trade trades for 2011. This is a new twist. It warns that the Communist Party will have to puncture the credit bubble before inflation reaches levels that threaten social stability. This in turn may open a can of worms.

"Many see China’s monetary tightening as a pre-emptive tap on the brakes, a warning shot across the proverbial economic bows. We see it as a potentially more malevolent reactive day of reckoning," said Tim Ash, the bank’s emerging markets chief. Officially, inflation was 4.4pc in October, and may reach 5pc in November, but it is to hard find anybody in China who believes it is that low. Vegetables have risen 20pc in a month.

The Communist Party learned from Tiananmen in 1989 how surging prices can seed dissent. "Inflation is a redistributive mechanism in favour of the few that can protect living standards, against the large majority who cannot. The political leadership cannot, will not, take risks in that regard," said Mr Ash. RBS recommends credit default swaps on China’s five-year debt. This is not a forecast that China will default. It is insurance against the "fat tail risk" of a hard landing, with ramifications across Asia.

The Politburo said on Friday that China would move from "relatively loose" money to a "prudent" policy next year, a recognition that credit rationing, price controls, and other forms of Medieval restraint are not enough. The question is whether Beijing has already left it too late. Diana Choyleva from Lombard Street Research said the money supply rose at a 40pc rate in 2009 and the first half of 2010 as Beijing stoked an epic credit boom to keep uber-growth alive, but the costs of this policy now outweigh the benefits.

The economy is entering the ugly quadrant of cycle – stagflation – where credit-pumping leaks into speculation and price spirals, even as growth slows. Citigroup’s Minggao Shen said it now takes a rise of ¥1.84 in the M2 money supply to generate just one yuan of GDP growth, up from ¥1.30 earlier this decade.

The froth is going into property. Experts argue heatedly over whether or not China has managed to outdo America’s subprime bubble, or even match the Tokyo frenzy of late 1980s. The IMF straddles the two. It concluded in a report last week that there was no nationwide bubble but that home prices in Shenzen, Shanghai, Beijing, and Nanjing seem "increasingly disconnected from fundamentals".

Prices are 22 times disposable income in Beijing, and 18 times in Shenzen, compared to eight in Tokyo. The US bubble peaked at 6.4 and has since dropped 4.7. The price-to-rent ratio in China’s eastern cities has risen by over 200pc since 2004.

The IMF said land sales make up 30pc of local government revenue in Beijing. This has echoes of Ireland where "fair weather" property taxes disguised the erosion of state finances. Ms Choyleva said China drew a false conclusion from the global credit crisis that their top-down economy trumps the free market, failing to see that the events of 2008-2009 did equally great damage to them – though of a different kind. It closed the door on mercantilist export strategies that depend on cheap loans, a cheap currency, and the willingness of the West to tolerate predatory trade.

China is trying to keep the game going as if nothing has changed, but cannot do so. It dares not raise rates fast enough to let air out of the bubble because this would expose the bad debts of the banking system. The regime is stymied. "The Chinese growth machine is likely to continue to function in the minds of people long after it has no visible means of support. China’s potential growth rate could well halve to 5pc in this decade," she said.

As it happens, Fitch Ratings has just done a study with Oxford Economics on what would happen if China does indeed slow to under 5pc next year, tantamount to a recession for China. The risk is clearly there. Fitch said private credit has grown to 148pc of GDP, compared to a median of 41pc for emerging markets. It said the true scale of loans to local governments and state entities has been disguised.

The result of such a hard landing would be a 20pc fall in global commodity prices, a 100 basis point widening of spreads on emerging market debt, a 25pc fall in Asian bourses, a fall in the growth in emerging Asia by 2.6 percentage points, with a risk that toxic politics could make matters much worse. It is sobering that even a slight cooling of China’s credit growth led to economic contraction in Malaysia and Thailand in the third quarter, and sharp slowdowns across Asia. Japan’s economy will almost certainly contract this quarter.

Albert Edwards from Societe General said the OECD’s leading indicators are signalling a "downturn" for Asia’s big five (Japan, Korea, China, India, and Indonesia). The China indicator composed by Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics has fallen almost as far as it did at the onset of the 2008 crash. "I remain convinced we are witnessing a bubble of epic proportions which will burst – catching investors as unawares as the bursting of the Asian bubbles of the mid-1990s. Ignore these indicators at your peril," he said.

In a sense, inflation is a crude way of curbing China’s export surpluses and therefore of resolving a key trade imbalance that lay behind the global credit crisis. If China continues to stoke inflation – and blaming the US Federal Reserve for its own errors help – there will no longer be any need for a yuan revaluation against the dollar, and the US Congress can shelve its sanctions law.

On a recent visit to a chemical plant in Suzhou, I was told by the English manager that wage bonuses for staff will average nine months pay this year. This is what it costs to keep skilled workers. His own contract is fixed in sterling, which has crashed against the yuan over the last two years. "It is a sobering experience," he said.

China may have hit the "Lewis turning point", named after the Nobel economist Arthur Lewis from St Lucia. It is the moment for each catch-up economy when the supply of cheap labour from the countryside dries up, leading to a surge in industrial wages. That reserve army of 120m Chinese migrants everybody was so worried about four years ago has already dwindled to 25m.

China’s problem is that this is happening just as the aging crisis starts to bite. The number of workers will decline in absolute terms within four years. The society will then tip into precipitous demographic decline. Unlike Japan, it will become old before it is has built a cushion of wealth. If there is a hard-landing in 2011, China’s reserves of $2.6 trillion – or over $3 trillion if counted fully – will not help much. Professor Michael Pettis from Beijing University says the money cannot be used internally in the economy.

While this fund does offer China external protection, Mr Pettis notes wryly that the only other times in the last century when one country accumulated reserves equal to 5pc to 6pc of global GDP was US in the 1920s, and Japan in the 1980s. We know how both episodes ended. The sons of Mao insist that they have studied the Japanese debacle closely and will not repeat the error. And I can sell you an ocean-front property in Chengdu.




Top Chinese official doesn't believe country's own GDP figures
by Malcolm Moore - Telegraph

China's economic figures are unreliable and not to be trusted, according to Li Keqiang, one of the country's most senior officials. The 55-year-old is widely tipped to become China's next prime minister and is currently the country's executive vice premier, with responsibility for macro-economic management.

However, in private talks with the US ambassador in 2007, when he was still just the head of the Chinese province of Liaoning, Mr Li cast doubt on China's much-vaunted economic statistics. A diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website, reveals that Mr Li described China's gross domestic product figure as "man-made" and "therefore unreliable".

Chinese officials have repeatedly been found to have artificially inflated their local GDP figures in order to win face and hit their targets. On several occasions, the sum of all of China's local GDP tallies added up to more than the national statistic. In 2009, for example, the National Bureau of Statistics said first half GDP had grown by 7.1pc to 13.99 trillion yuan (£1.37 trillion), only to find that the sum of local GDP readouts was 10pc higher.

Mr Li said he used three ways of evaluating Liaoning's economic activity, focusing on electricity consumption, the volume of rail cargo and the amount of bank loans disbursed. "By looking at these three figures, Li said he can measure with relative accuracy the speed of economic growth," the cable said. "All other figures, especially GDP statistics, are 'for reference only,' he said smiling," it added.




Former OMB Director Debunks The Economic Recovery Myth
by Tyler Durden - Zero Hedge

There is propaganda, and there are facts. For anyone seeking just one concise, definitive and completely true (as in fact-, not hope- based) explanation of what has happened to the American economy in the past 2 years, we suggest this presentation by former OMB director David Stockman, whose 10 minute appearance on the CNBC's strategy session left the hosts with absolutely nothing to retort.

Among his observations: the government sector for the first time in history is shrinking: "the reason is that governments are broke... we are going to have to cut back government employment." And it gets scarier: "if you take core government plus the middle class economy (65 million jobs), that's the breadwinning economy, if we take some numbers - how many jobs in the "core economy" in November - zero; how many jobs since last December: net zero; how many jobs since the bottom of the recession in June 2009: still a million behind from when the recession ended." As to whether the economy can grow without employment growth: "I can't imagine how it can because employment growth generates income growth which is the basis for spending and saving ultimately and we are not getting income growth out of the middle class." And the stunner: the job "growth" has come almost exclusively from the part-time economy (two-thirds). Why is this a major problem: "there is 35 million jobs in that sector, with an average wage of $20,000 a year: that is not a breadwinning job, you can't support a family on that, you can't save on that. Those jobs will not generate income that will become self-feeding into spending." As for the biggest condemnation, it is reserved to what Zero Hedge has been claiming for two years now is a completely broken market: "I can't explain the market... I don't know what it is pricing today, I don't think the market discounts anything anymore, it is purely a daytraders' market that is trading off the Fed, trading off the headlines. One day it is manic, the next day it is depressive, and we can't draw any conclusions." And scene.

















Bernanke On '60 Minutes': Defends Bond Buys, Says Years Until 'Normal' Unemployment
by AP




Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is stepping up his defense of the Fed's $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase plan, saying the economy is still struggling to become "self-sustaining" without government help. In a taped interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night, Bernanke also argued that Congress shouldn't cut spending or boost taxes given how fragile the economy remains.

The Fed chairman said he thinks another recession is unlikely. But he warned that the economy could suffer a slowdown if persistently high unemployment dampens consumer spending. The interview is part of a broad counteroffensive Bernanke has been waging against critics of the bond purchase plan the Fed announced Nov. 3. The purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates, lift stock prices and encourage more spending to boost the economy.

Critics, from Republicans in Congress to some officials within the Fed, say they fear the Fed's intervention could spur inflation and speculative buying on Wall Street while doing little to aid the economy.

On other issues in the "60 Minutes" interview, Bernanke:

• Argued that unemployment would have been far higher – "something like it was in the Depression, 25 percent" – had the Fed not provided extraordinary aid to Wall Street firms, banks and other companies to ease a credit crisis.

• Said it could take four or five more years for unemployment, now at 9.8 percent, to fall to a historically normal 5 percent or 6 percent.

• Reiterated that the Fed is prepared to buy even more than $600 billion in Treasury bonds over the next eight months, should it decide the economy needs the fuel of even lower interest rates.

• Argued that the risk of inflation is overblown. Bernanke said he's "100 percent" confident the Fed will be able to ward off inflation, when the time is right, by raising interest rates and unwinding its stimulative programs.

• Called the risk of deflation – a prolonged drop in prices, wages and the values of homes and stocks – "pretty low." He said the likelihood would have been greater if the Fed weren't maintaining super-low interest rates.

• Urged Congress to improve the nation's tax code "by closing loopholes and lowering rates" for individuals and companies. He said doing so would create greater incentives for people to invest.

Critics who fear the Fed is raising the risk of inflation have complained that its bond purchases mean the Fed is, in effect, printing more money. In the interview, Bernanke called that a "myth." He insisted the Fed isn't printing money when it buys Treasurys and said the program won't expand the amount of money in circulation in a "significant way."

Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP, said Bernanke is right that the Fed's purchases won't significantly change the amount of money circulating in the economy. That's mainly because banks aren't lending most of the money they already hold in reserve. When the Fed buys Treasurys, it increases the reserves in the banking system. For those reserves to actually "create" money, the banks would have to lend it. Still, Crandall suggested that the bond-buying program creates the appearance of printing money, something that could put the central bank's credibility at stake.

Bernanke's apperance Sunday night is part of a public-relations blitz he's mounted since the Fed announced the program Nov. 3. In private and public appearances, Bernanke has sought to explain and defend the program to ordinary Americans, investors and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. His efforts have included an Op-Ed article in The Washington Post and discussions with students in Jacksonville, Fla., economists in Jekyll Island, Ga., business people in Columbus, Ohio, central bankers in Europe and members of the Senate Banking Committee.

Criticism has come from both home and abroad. Officials in China, Germany, Brazil and other countries have argued that the Fed's plan is a scheme to give U.S. exporters a competitive edge by keeping the value of the dollar weak. A weak dollar makes U.S. goods cheaper abroad and foreign goods more expensive in the U.S. It's rare for a sitting Fed chairman to grant an interview, whether for broadcast or print. But this was Bernanke's second appearance on "60 Minutes." His first was in March 2009. At the time, he was facing anger over Wall Street bailouts and rising anxiety about the economy.

In the interview that aired Sunday, Bernanke pointed out that the economy is growing at an annual pace of around 2.5 percent – far too slow to reduce unemployment. For a self-sustaining recovery, consumers and businesses would need to spend more, so the economy could grow faster. Bernanke has said he hopes the Fed's bond-buying program will help lift stock prices. In part, that's because lower yields on bonds would cause some people to shift money into stocks and also because lower corporate bond rates will spur business investment.

Higher stock prices would boost the wealth and confidence of individuals and businesses. Spending would rise, lifting incomes, profits and economic growth. Bernanke has referred to this as a "virtuous cycle." Asked whether the recovery is self-sustaining, Bernanke responded: "It may not be. It's very close to the border." Given the economy's still-weak growth, he said: "We're not very far from the level where the economy is not self-sustaining."




Trillions In Secret Fed Bailouts For Global Corporations And Foreign Banks – Has The Federal Reserve Become A Completely Unaccountable Global Bailout Machine?
by MIchael Snyder - Economic Collapse

Has the Federal Reserve become the Central Bank of the World?  That is what some members of Congress are asking after the Federal Reserve revealed the details of 21,000 transactions stretching from December 2007 to July 2010 that totaled more than $3 trillion on Wednesday.  Most of these transactions involved giant loans that were nearly interest-free from the Federal Reserve to some of the largest banks, financial institutions and corporations all over the world. 

In fact, it turns out that foreign banks and foreign corporations received a very large share of these bailouts.  So has the Federal Reserve now become a completely unaccountable global bailout machine?  Sadly, the truth is that we would have never learned the details of these bailouts if Congress had not forced this information out of the Fed.  So what other kinds of jaw-dropping details would be revealed by a full audit of the Federal Reserve?

It is important to try to understand exactly what went on here.  Banks and corporations from all over the globe were allowed to borrow gigantic piles of money essentially for free.  Yes, when you are getting interest rates such as 0.25 percent, the money is essentially free. 

These loans were not available to everyone.  You or I could not have run over to the Federal Reserve and walked away with tens of billions of dollars in loans that were nearly interest-free.  Rather, it was only the megabanks and megacorporations that are friendly with the Federal Reserve that were able to take advantage of these bailouts.

In this way, the Federal Reserve is now essentially acting like some kind of financial god.  They decide who survives and who fails.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of small to mid-size U.S. banks are failing, but the Federal Reserve does not seem to have much compassion for them.  It is only when the "too big to fail" establishment banks are in trouble that the Federal Reserve starts handing out gigantic sacks of nearly interest-free cash.

Just think about it.  Which financial institution do you think is in a better competitive position - one that must survive on its own, or one that has a "safety net" of nearly unlimited free loans from the Federal Reserve?

Now that is oversimplifying the situation, certainly, but the truth is that the Federal Reserve had fundamentally altered the financial marketplace and is significantly influencing who wins and who loses.

But even more disturbing is what the Federal Reserve is turning into.  This is an institution that is "independent" of the U.S. government, that does not answer to the American people, that controls our money supply and that is just tossing tens of billions of dollars to foreign banks and to foreign corporations whenever it wants to.

In fact, if Congress had not forced the Fed to tell us what was going on with these bailouts we would have never even found out.

The truth is that the Fed is taking incredible risks with "our money" and yet they want to continue to exist in a cloak of almost total secrecy.

In a recent article in the Washington Post, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher acknowledged that the Federal Reserve played fast and loose with trillions of dollars of our money....

"We took an enormous amount of risk with the people's money."

Are you deeply disturbed by that quote?

Well, if not, you should be.

The American people became so infuriated about the bailouts and stimulus packages passed by Congress, but it turns out that they were nothing compared to these Federal Reserve bailouts.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the members of Congress that is now expressing extreme outrage about what the Federal Reserve has done....

"The $700 billion Wall Street bailout turned out to be pocket change compared to trillions and trillions of dollars in near zero interest loans and other financial arrangements that the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution."


In fact, Senator Sanders was so disgusted by how much of the money went overseas that he was led to make the following remark....
"Has the Federal Reserve become the central bank of the world? I think that is a question that needs to be examined."

Advocates for the Federal Reserve insist that if all of these foreign banks and foreign corporations were not bailed out the financial crisis would have been much worse.  In fact, they say we should be thankful that the Federal Reserve prevented a total financial collapse.

Well boo-hoo!

If our financial institutions are so fragile that a stiff wind will knock half of them over maybe they need to just fail.

You know what, life is tough.  Nobody is going to cry most of us a river of tears if we lose our jobs.  Most of us have learned to scratch and claw to survive with no safety net underneath us.

So maybe it is time for these big financial institutions to start playing by the same rules the rest of us are playing by.

No, when these "too big to fail" financial institutions get into a little trouble they start whining like a bunch of little babies.

"Give us some big sacks of cash!"

"Waaaaaaah!"

Well guess what?  Most of the rest of us are just not going to have too much sympathy for these big banks from now on.

The following is a list of just a few of the banks, financial institutions and global corporations that received nearly interest-free loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.....

Big U.S. Banks And Financial Institutions

Goldman Sachs
Citibank
JP Morgan Chase
Morgan Stanley
Merrill Lynch
Bank of America
Bear Stearns
Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO)

Big Global Corporations

General Electric
Caterpillar
Harley-Davidson
Verizon
McDonald's
BMW
Toyota

Canadian Banks

Royal Bank of Canada
Toronto-Dominion Bank
Scotiabank

European And Asian Banks

Barclays Capital
Bank of Scotland
Deutsche Bank
Credit Suisse
BNP Paribas
Societe Generale
UBS
Dexia
Bayerische Landesbank
Dresdner Bank
Commerzbank
The Korean Development Bank (South Korea)

But those defending the Federal Reserve will insist that the financial world as we know it would have ended if the Fed had done nothing.

That may well be true.

The entire financial system might have gone down in flames.

But that just proves the main point that this column has been trying to make for months.

An economic collapse is coming.

The Federal Reserve can desperately try to keep all of the balls in the air for as long as it can, but eventually it is inevitable that this entire thing is going to come crashing down.

The fact that the Federal Reserve had to resort to such extreme measures to "save" the financial system just shows how desperate things really are.

We really have reached a "tipping point" for the world financial system.  There is going to be crisis after crisis after crisis and even bigger bailouts are going to be required in the future.

The world financial system is a house of cards built on a foundation of sand.  The Federal Reserve can keep throwing around gigantic sacks of "our money" as much as it wants, but in the end there is nothing that can be done to prevent the inevitable collapse that is coming.





Hidden fees cut UK pension payouts by 75%
by Holly Watt - Telegraph

Savers are losing up to three quarters of their pensions in little-known fees charged by the investment funds that manage their money, a report by senior pension experts warns.

Private pensions in Britain pay out on average half as much retirement income as equivalent schemes in Europe, the report says, with hidden costs blighting the retirement plans of millions. The report, by David Pitt-Watson, one of the country's leading pension fund managers, and a team from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, warns the Government that the system is in need of urgent reform to bring these costs down.

Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that a range of little-known fees and levies typically wiped more than £100,000 off the value of a middle-class worker's private pension. Mr Pitt-Watson, the boss of Hermes, which manages the BT pension scheme, has written to Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, to set out his concerns. His three-year study highlights how British savers suffer in comparison with their European counterparts because of the fees charged by pension funds.

While the annual levy can appear small, its effect after decades of saving is substantial, the report warns. This is because the fee is calculated annually as a percentage of the total amount in the pension fund. Each year, therefore, the amount levied increases. According to Mr Pitt-Watson, someone saving £1,000 a year throughout their working lives would retire on an inflation-protected pension worth £16,080 a year if they did not pay fees. However, the typical fees levied by British pension funds would reduce the payout to £9,900 annually.

The Dutch and Danish systems have funds with far lower costs, the report says. For example, ATP in Denmark charges about 0.04 per cent to manage its fund, or £5 per person annually. By contrast, British pension funds can charge three per cent or more, the study found. This means that three-quarters of the possible pension is swallowed up by cost, the report says. Even a fee of 1.5 per cent a year translates to 37.5 per cent of the money saved over the 25-year life of a pension, the report says.

"When people hear that they are being charged 1 per cent or 3 per cent, they think they are being charged 3p in the pound or 1p in the pound, and think 'that's fine'. But because of compounding, the pension costs actually add up to 40 per cent," said Mr Pitt-Watson. The research shows that savers are often unaware of how much pensions cost.

A panel of ordinary savers were said to have been "aghast" when they realised the cost of private schemes. British workers are also badly affected by private pension costs because the UK has the lowest rate of state pension provision relative to any of the OECD group of developed countries. The report concludes that the system of pension provision in Britain is "not fit for purpose".

Although the forthcoming new state pension scheme, the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest), aims to reduce costs, Mr Pitt-Watson said "the danger is that we are creating a weakened monopoly rather than healthy competition". The law currently bars the creation of European-style supersized pension schemes which, because of their size, have lower costs.

Last year, the Department for Work and Pensions blocked plans for a scheme enabling members to pay into a collective fund instead of into individual savings accounts, allowing investment risks to be shared among members. Mr Pitt-Watson said this was a "mistake". Many of the costs involved in pensions are created by people switching between schemes. Mr Pitt-Watson believes these costs could be avoided if there were a limited number of large providers, with economies of scale reducing costs.

"By common consent, the UK private pensions system is not fit for purpose. It is hugely inefficient. The Government has taken steps to address the problem but it remains in real danger of spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar," he said. The maximum individuals will be able to save with Nest will be limited to £3,600 a year. Mr Pitt-Watson said the upper limit should be scrapped, because it would make Nest, which launches next year, less competitive.

The advisory board for the Tomorrow’s Investor report included Sir John Banham, the chairman of the Johnson Matthey chemical company, and Vicky Pryce, a former civil servant and senior managing director at FTI Consulting. Miss Pryce is the estranged wife of Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary. As well as an increasing gap between public sector and private sector pensions, recent research by Aviva and the accountants Deloitte, showed that the UK had the largest pensions gap per person in Europe. British adults need to save an average of £10,300 more every year if they want to keep their current standard of living in retirement.




Britain's final salary pensions schemes no longer to be protected
by Telegraph

The Government has abandoned plans to ban the transfer of final salary pensions to defined contribution schemes. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced in October that it will not proceed with a policy that would, it said, have restricted "the choice members currently have as to how they manage their pension provision" and risked "creating an artificial transfer market up to 2012".

Draft legislation published by the DWP in June would have prevented the transfer of many final salary or defined benefit pension rights to defined contribution schemes. But the DWP will now allow contracted-out defined benefit rights to be transferred to contracted-in schemes when contractedout defined contribution schemes disappear in April 2012. This is when the option to contract out of the state second pension into a defined contribution scheme is being abolished.

Fiona Bruce, Huw Edwards and Martha Kearney joined a strike by BBC jounalists in November over pension changes at the Corporation. The dispute stems from attempts by Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, to bridge a predicted deficit in the corporation's pension fund of up to £2billion. His initial proposals in June would have forced many employees to give up their "gold-plated" final salary pensions in favour of the kind of "defined contribution" scheme common in the private sector. The final payout depends on the amount invested and the performance of the stock market.

Managers were forced to step in to present news programmes and bulletins during the 48 hour strike. The threat of strikes caused Mr Thompson to back down twice, and his current offer would leave existing BBC employees with guaranteed pensions based on their average salary across their careers at the corporation.




Numbers look great when jobless just give up
by Jay Bryan - Montreal Gazette

Canada's job market perked up slightly in November, adding a modest 15,200 jobs after a two-month dry period that produced a small net loss. But even though the unemployment rate enjoyed a dramatic drop to 7.6 per cent from 7.9 the previous month, the improvement was more apparent than real. About three-quarters of the decline was caused not by new jobs but by discouraged workers simply exiting the job market -and therefore the unemployment rolls.

Quebec, after a long stretch of good performance, stumbled in November, with unemployment dropping to 7.9 per cent from 8.0 even though 14,100 jobs disappeared. This was because an even larger number of workers, 21,400 of them, left the job market. The only strong provincial job gain came in Ontario, which added 31,200 positions, cutting unemployment to 8.2 per cent from 8.6 as it struggles back from severe losses in the recession.

Manufacturing was a big drag on Canada's employment picture, shedding 28,600 jobs in a reflection of feeble U.S. demand and a high-priced loonie, both of which helped to squeeze exports. This poor trade performance dragged Canadian economic growth down to a minimal one per cent annual pace in the third quarter from 2.3 per cent in the second, even though economic activity within Canada remains strong.

On the plus side, health care jobs almost precisely offset the losses in factories, adding 28,400 positions. And in a sign that Canadian consumers are going to keep boosting spending during the important Christmas season, the number of jobs in retailing and wholesaling expanded by 26,200. The quality of new jobs was soft, with a decline of 11,500 full-time jobs offset by the creation of 26,700 part-time ones.

But perhaps more important, the number of hours put in by all workers rose by a healthy 0.7 per cent in November -the strongest gain in seven months -suggesting that more workers were gaining hours than seeing them cut. As a result, payroll outlays grew by 0.5 per cent in November, "showing a strong 4.8-per-cent advance" at an annual rate, note economists Yanick Desnoyers and Matthieu Arseneau at the National Bank.

The implication: with more money in workers' pockets, the likelihood is that Canada's economy is speeding up now, perhaps on track to grow two per cent or more in the fourth quarter. With the economy showing something of a rebound, said senior economist Pascal Gauthier at the Toronto-Dominion Bank, "the labour market's gradual healing from the recession back to a healthier state should continue through potentially volatile numbers in the months ahead."

Still, it could easily be next spring before the boost in economic activity propels job gains to a much higher level, suspects Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. In the meantime, he said, the outlook is for employment growth of only about 10,000 to 15,000 a month, not enough to bring a significant further improvement in unemployment.

The most hopeful sign for Canada, strangely enough, comes from the U.S., where unemployment actually rose two ticks to 9.8 per cent after the weakest gain in private-sector job creation since January. But there were multiple signs of gathering momentum in the U.S. economy this week -including credible indications of renewed strength in the job market. They included a new downtrend in unemployment insurance claims, a report of strong job gains from a big private payroll processor, robust sales gains at auto dealerships and chain stores, and indications of continued strength among manufacturers.

With all these positive signs, Porter is inclined to downplay the November employment report and assume that a substantial improvement will show up in December's numbers -and that this development will gain strength in following months. That wouldn't have a big impact on Canada's economy immediately, but by spring, it could be helping to boost employment numbers on this side of the border.

Flaherty encouraged, but also worried
"I am encouraged by the unemployment numbers this morning in Canada," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told a news conference in Montreal yesterday. "It's a bit discouraging to see the unemployment numbers in the United States ... there's a persisting concern with respect to the American economy," he said. Flaherty and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney have consistently identified weak U.S. growth as one of the main risks for the Canadian economy.

Other factors holding the domestic economy back are the strong Canadian dollar and the after-effects of the global crisis. Flaherty said he expected modest economic growth over the next few years and repeated he was satisfied Canada was on track to balance its budget in the medium term.




Moody's Downgrades Hungary
by Margit Feher - Wall Street Journal

Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service Inc. downgraded Hungary by two notches on Monday citing fiscal-sustainability concerns, holding the country in investment-grade territory but maintaining its negative rating outlook. "We expect that the headline budget deficit figures will be met thanks to temporary measures but in a situation like this, we need to look beyond the headline figures," said Dietmar Hornung, vice-president of Moody's Investors Service. "We expect a significant deterioration in the structural deficit."

Moody's downgraded Hungary's foreign- and local-currency government bond ratings by two notches to Baa3 from Baa1, citing increased concerns about the country's medium- to long-term fiscal sustainability and higher "external vulnerabilities" than most of Hungary's rated peers. "Today's downgrade highlights Hungary's lack of commitment to fiscal reform," said Eurasia research director Preston Keat. "The government hasn't shown any indications yet that they are serious about this."

Further downgrades, to below investment grade, which are possible as Hungary has a negative outlook at all three major rating agencies, would be problematic for Hungary as its needs to repay its European Union and International Monetary Fund loans in the coming year. Hungary was the first EU country to secure EU/IMF support when hit by the global economic crisis. Mr. Hornung didn't specify the rate of the expected structural budget deterioration but said that the ratings agency forecasts a deterioration both next year and in 2012, compared with this year.

The Hungarian government has levied extraordinary taxes on mostly large multinational companies across a number of sectors, including retail, telecommunications, energy and banking, to raise budget revenue. It has also been redirecting personal assets in private pension funds to help it meet strict EU budget deficit targets as well as to reduce public debt. Hungary has the largest debt levels as a ratio of gross domestic product in central and Eastern Europe. "A sustainable consolidation path—a sound [fiscal] footing—would be beneficial, including expenditure-side measures," Mr. Hornung said.

Hungary's government, which came to power after elections in the spring, cut taxes for small and medium-sized companies and on personal income in an effort to boost growth after refusing to endorse further budget austerity measures as recommended by the IMF. It broke with the IMF in the summer. The government's plan to reduce the country's GDP-to-debt ratio by boosting economic growth "may work when growth picks up by the rate the government suggests or beyond," Mr. Hornung said. "However, there are uncertainties associated with that strategy."

The Hungarian government, which declined to comment on the downgrade, projects that GDP growth will accelerate to 3% next year and to 3.5% in 2012, from this year's expected 0.8% growth, after Hungary underwent its deepest economic contraction last year for nearly two decades. "The government has embarked on a pro-growth strategy financed by aggressive ad hoc fiscal measures," said Barclay's Capital in a research note.

This, together with the strong support the Hungarian manufacturing industry is receiving from robust demand from core Europe, particularly Germany, should support growth in the short term but could lead to a sharp rise again of fiscal deficits in one or two years, it added. "Based on recent experience, the market may be less likely to react to lip service and will want to see concrete structural spending reform implementation plans."




Firewall needed as eurozone stands on brink of meltdown
by Sir John Gieve - Telegraph

Developments in euro debt markets remind me more and more of September 2008. Unless Europe’s policymakers seize the initiative to secure the position of Spain and Italy, we could see a new seizure in bank funding markets which would force the euro area either to underpin monetary union with some mutual fiscal guarantees or to fragment.

In the first half of 2008, the banking industry seemed to be recovering from the initial sub-prime shock. Capital was raised and interbank spreads narrowed. Liquidity support and the rescues of Bear Stearns and European banks demonstrated the authorities’ determination to stabilise markets if necessary with public funds.

However the limits to that support especially in the US were not made clear and, over the summer, markets tested its credibility. We saw a succession of banks deny they needed help only to be forced into state rescues until the US tried to draw the line at Lehman.

Its failure triggered a general loss of confidence in banks which was only reversed by explicit government guarantees of all their banks’ liabilities, going far beyond what would have been needed to save Lehman.

This year doubts have been growing about the guarantees of euro members. Taken as a whole the euro area is in a better position to meet its debts and to bail out its banks than the US or Japan. It is in broad current account balance, its debt burden is not exceptional and its taxable capacity is huge. What is unclear is how far it is willing to act collectively. And, without fiscal support from the rest of the union, it seems doubtful that Greece can dig its own way out of its sovereign debt hole or that Ireland can redeem its banks’ debts.

First Greece, then Ireland have been forced to turn to the EU and IMF for help. But the rescues have offered only more time to pay and have stopped short of promising transfers either now or if the plans go off track. Not surprisingly markets have continued to price in defaults in those cases and have moved on to question whether, on these terms, others can honour their debts and stand behind their banks.

It only needs a small level of risk to make it sensible to steer clear. So now it is Portugal and Spain issuing the denials while Italy, Belgium and even France try to dismiss any threat as absurd. A simple way out would be for the euro area to underpin its members’ guarantees with a measure of fiscal support conditional on domestic reform and retrenchment. This would be a deepening of the union which was expected and desired by its designers. But there does not appear to be sufficient political support for that, particularly in Germany.

Although for the present, banks and sovereigns can turn to the European Central Bank for funding, the ECB is wary of being drawn into providing fiscal transfers through the back door (by buying sovereign and bank debt which will in time be written down). In short, the uncertainty is not resolved.

One lesson of 2008 is that once market confidence begins to ebb, it develops its own momentum. Any bank requires a continuous flow of funds and the question ceases to be whether it is solvent as a going concern and becomes simply whether it will be able to refinance maturing debt at an acceptable price. The worry that it won’t becomes self fulfilling. And in the complex and opaque network of international finance doubts about one bank swiftly spread to others.

The euro area is standing on the brink of such a meltdown today. It needs urgently to establish a firewall against contagion by identifying a country which can demonstrate its ability to meet its debts and then giving it full support. I suspect it could still do this in Spain. For Spain, with continuing access to finance at reasonable rates, should be able to service its own debts and support its banks as it wants.

But it is failing to persuade the markets of this because it cannot be sure of continued funding at affordable rates and because it appears still to be in denial about the true level of bad debts in its banking system (widely thought to be at least €50bn (£42bn) more than published).

The best course is for Spain to announce a credible plan for its banks with fiscal retrenchment and supply side reforms, and for the euro area to back that with facilities, at a modest spread over bunds, which are sufficiently long term and sufficiently large to give Spain time to earn its way out of trouble. That would allow the ECB to reinforce the firewall by increasing purchases of Spain’s bonds. In time it should then be possible to manage the debt restructuring Ireland and Greece need.

If the euro area waits for the crisis to deepen and spread before acting, there is a real risk of a run on their banks like that in 2008. Not only will that set back recovery but the euro area will only restore calm and preserve the union by issuing the sort of collective guarantees of sovereign and bank debt they have been so desperate to avoid.

Sir John Gieve is senior adviser to GLG Partners, part of Man Group, and a former deputy governor of the Bank of England




Eurozone ministers set for crisis talks
by Peter Spiegel - Financial Times

Finance ministers from the 16 eurozone nations are expected to debate new ways to combat the continuing debt crisis at a meeting on Monday night amid growing signs of discord over how to allay fears in the bond market that further bail-outs might be needed.

Ahead of the meeting in Brussels several ministers have publicly proposed new measures – including raising the amount in the eurozone’s €440bn ($583bn) rescue fund and creating a Europe-wide bond – aimed at improving the European Union’s system of dealing with rising borrowing costs for so-called "peripheral" countries.

Germany has, however, proved resistant to the proposals and in a news conference on Monday, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, rejected both the new Eurobond idea and moves to increase the size of the bail-out fund. After meetings in Berlin with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, she said: "I see no need to expand the fund right now". She added that the EU’s treaties currently did not "allow Eurobonds, as far as we’re concerned."

The German rejection leaves the European Central Bank’s aggressive purchase of eurozone sovereign debt as the main weapon for the EU in fighting to keep the two most vulnerable countries, Portugal and Spain, from being forced into a bail-out. Ireland last week became the second eurozone country after Greece to be bailed out after financial markets ditched Irish bonds amid fears that Dublin would not be able to manage debt it took on while trying to restructure the country’s ailing banking sector.

Since the ECB began its new round of bond purchases late last week, the markets have levelled off for Portugal, Spain and Italian debt, leading many officials to believe they have some breathing room to debate possible new measures. No firm decision is expected before a summit of European heads of government, scheduled for December 16-17.

Both Portugal and Spain have in recent days announced new fiscal measures to bolster their case further with the financial markets but officials remain uncertain whether the austerity and restructuring initiatives will be enough to lower borrowing costs to a more sustainable level.

The debate over additional measures began at the weekend, when Didier Reynders, the Belgian finance minister, expressed support for increasing the size of the €440bn bail-out fund.
Because of the fund’s complex rules, the amount available to lend to cash-strapped countries is far less than €440bn and Mr Reynders’ support follows similar signals from members of the ECB.

Mr Reynders’ comments were followed by the publication in the Financial Times of a proposal by Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister who chairs the 16-member eurogroup, and Giulio Tremonti, the Italian finance minister, proposing Eurobonds as a way to lower borrowing costs for peripheral economies.




Merkel rejects debt crisis proposals
by Peter Spiegel and Quentin Peel - Financial Times

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has ruled out two of the most widely-backed ideas for combating the eurozone debt crisis, saying she saw no need to increase the size of the European Union’s €440bn rescue fund and that the bloc’s treaties did not allow for the creation of a Europe-wide bond.

Ms Merkel’s comments on Monday came as finance ministers from the 16 countries that use the euro were gathering in Brussels for a regular meeting where both ideas were expected to be debated behind closed doors.

The German rejection leaves the European Central Bank’s aggressive purchase of eurozone sovereign debt as the main weapon for the EU in fighting to keep the two most vulnerable countries, Portugal and Spain, from being forced into a bail-out. Proposals to increase the size of the bail-out fund gained momentum over the weekend when Didier Reynders, the Belgian finance minister who chairs the EU’s economic affairs council, backed the move and said it had support from the International Monetary Fund. ECB officials have also signalled their support for the increase.

But at a joint press conference with Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, Ms Merkel said that "for the time being" she saw no need to increase the fund, which when other EU and IMF commitments are included totals €750bn. The fund’s size has been called into question because rules governing its operation make the eurozone unable to lend its complete €440bn to debt-burdened member states. If the EU were forced to use the fund to rescue Portugal and Spain, some have estimated that additional lending capacity would be required.

Heading into Monday night’s meeting, Olli Rehn, the EU’s top economic official, said increasing the size of the fund was one of the issues that would be debated during the session, but did not comment on whether he backed an increase. Mr Rehn said he found the idea of a Europe-wide bond to be "intellectually attractive", but noted that a similar proposal was rejected by member states at the height of the Greek debt crisis in May.

A spokesman for Ms Merkel said her government was opposed to the Eurobond idea on both economic and legal grounds, noting that creating it would force the EU into the "most extensive changes" in its treaties. The idea of a Eurobond was put forward on Monday by Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister who heads the 16-member eurogroup of countries, and Giulio Tremonti, the Italian finance minister, in an article in the Financial Times.

Since the ECB began stepping up its round of bond purchases late last week, the borrowing costs for countries such as Portugal and Spain have begun to ease, but the market remained unsettled on Monday amid low trading volumes. According to the latest figures, the ECB had bought nearly €2bn in government bonds through the middle of last week, the most in months.




Will 2012 Be As Critical As 1860?
by Jim Quinn - Burning Platform

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”  – Abraham Lincoln


We are approximately five years into The Fourth Turning Crisis. Every previous Fourth Turning had an economic dimension that eventually led to a do or die all out war. The mainstream linear thinkers see a recovery and a return to their concept of normality. They will be shocked and flabbergasted when they realize that this is only the beginning of a 20 year period of turmoil, chaos and war. It seems that some study of history would benefit the mainstream talking media heads pretending to know what is happening and political hacks in Washington D.C. who pretend to administer the affairs of state. The cycles of history are not identical, but the alignment of generations is always the same. The cycles are consistent because a long human life is always between 80 and 100 years. The previous Fourth Turnings in U.S. history were the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Great Depression/World War II. The descriptions are as follows:

American Revolution (Fourth Turning, 1773-1794) began when Parliament’s response to the Boston Tea Party ignited a colonial tinderbox—leading directly to the first Continental Congress, the battle of Concord, and the Declaration of Independence.  The war climaxed with the colonial triumph at Yorktown (in 1781).  Seven years later, the new "states" ratified a nation-forging Constitution.  The crisis mood eased once President Washington weathered the Jacobins, put down the Whiskey Rebels, and settled on a final treaty with England.

The Civil War (Fourth Turning, 1860-1865) began with a presidential election that many southerners interpreted as an invitation to secede. The attack on Fort Sumter triggered the most violent conflict ever fought on New World soil. The war reached its climax in the Emancipation Proclamation and Battle of Gettysburg (in 1863). Two years later, the Confederacy was beaten into bloody submission and Lincoln was assassinated–a grim end to a crusade many had hoped would “trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

The Great Depression & World War II (Fourth Turning, 1929-1946) began suddenly with the Black Tuesday stock-market crash.  After a three-year economic free fall, the Great Depression triggered the New Deal revolution, a vast expansion of government, and hopes for a renewal of national community.  After Pearl Harbor, America planned, mobilized, and produced for war on a scale that made possible the massive D-Day invasion (in 1944).  Two years later, the crisis mood eased with America’s surprisingly trouble-free demobilization.

There is a consistent tempo to all Fourth Turnings. An event or series of events leads to the initial Crisis. As the Fourth Turning progresses it becomes more intense, chaotic, dire and bloody. It eventually exhausts itself as a victor is left in control of the battlefield. Picture George Washington at Yorktown, Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, and Douglass McArthur on the Battleship Missouri. The events during a Fourth Turning will always be different. The consistent aspect of all Fourth Turnings is the mood of the country, the same generational dynamics, and the reactions of the generations to events. Strauss & Howe describe this Crisis period as follows:

“The spirit of America comes once a saeculum, only through what the ancients called ekpyrosis, nature’s fiery moment of death and discontinuity. History’s periodic eras of Crisis combust the old social order and give birth to a new. A Fourth Turning is a solstice era of maximum darkness, in which the supply of social order is still falling but the demand for order is now rising.”


The turnings of history are like the seasons. It is impossible to go directly from Fall to Spring. You must withstand the bitter harshness of Winter in order to get to the revitalizing warmth of Spring. The intensity and depth of Winters will vary. Those who prepare for a potentially harsh Winter in advance will be more likely to survive.  The morphology of Fourth Turnings as described by Strauss & Howe is:

  • A Crisis era begins with a catalyst – a startling event (or sequence of events) that produces a sudden shift in mood.
  • Once catalyzed, a society achieves regeneracy – a new counterentropy that reunifies and reenergizes civic life.
  • The regenerated society propels toward a climax – a crucial moment that confirms the death of the old order and birth of the new.
  • The climax culminates in a resolution – a triumphant or tragic conclusion that separates the winners from losers, resolves the big public questions, and establishes the new order.

An honest assessment of where we sit in this cycle shows that we are still in stage one. The housing collapse brought about the near destruction of the worldwide financial system. The sudden shift in mood has been borne out by the angry rise of the Tea Party and the startling result from the recent election. Society is on the verge of stage two. There has yet to be the reunification and reenergizing of society. It still feels like things are falling apart. The sun is slowly setting on this stage and a dark brutal Winter night beckons. 




1860 Election – Spark that Ignited an Epic Conflagration

 

Turnings throughout history have consistently lasted between 15 and 25 years, except one. The Civil War Crisis Turning lasted only 5 years and seems to not fit the standard definition of a Turning. Strauss & Howe reflected that:

“By the usual pattern of history, the Civil War Crisis catalyst occurred four or five years ahead of schedule and its resolution nearly a generation too soon.”

The truth is that instead of a drawn out Crisis over 15 to 20 years that would have had undulations of pain and suffering, the U.S. experienced the most savage 5 years in our history, with 620,000 Americans killed and 400,000 wounded. Ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years of age died, as did 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40. Strauss and Howe conclude that there are two lessons from the Civil War Crisis:

  1. The Fourth Turning morphology admits to acceleration.
  2. That acceleration can add to the tragedy of the outcome.

The catalyst for the Crisis was the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. After the Compromise of 1850, who would have envisioned the election of an unknown Congressman from an abolitionist party that didn’t even exist in 1850. Beyond that, could anyone have predicted the carnage from the bloodiest war in the history of mankind being the result of that election? Many people do not know that there were four candidates for President in 1860 and that Lincoln won the election with only 39.8% of the popular vote. Lincoln won the Presidency and he wasn’t even on the ballot in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas.

The Republican Party realized they had a tremendous opportunity to win the Presidency as the Democrats were in disarray. Since it was essential to carry the West, and because Lincoln had a national reputation from his debates and speeches as the most articulate moderate, he won the party’s nomination on the third ballot on May 18, 1860. The Republican platform stated that slavery would not be allowed to spread any further, and it also promised that tariffs protecting industry would be imposed, a Homestead Act granting free farmland in the West to settlers, and the funding of a transcontinental railroad.  All of these provisions were highly unpopular in the South.

The Democratic Party split into two factions due to the issue of slavery. Stephen A. Douglass became the Northern Democrat candidate. He was a moderate on the slavery issue. John C. Breckinridge was selected by the Fireaters from the Deep South. Breckinridge supported extending slavery into territories whose voters did not want it. A fourth party called the Constitutional Union Party made up of die-hard former Southern Whigs and Know Nothings who felt they could support neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party was formed. They nominated John Bell of Tennessee for President. The party platform advocated compromise to save the Union, with the slogan “the Union as it is, and the Constitution as it is.”

The voter turnout rate in 1860 was the second-highest on record (81.2%, second only to 1876, with 81.8%). The voter turnout in 2008 of 56.8% was the highest for a Presidential election since 1968.

File:Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Helser, 1860-crop.jpg  File:John C Breckinridge-04775-restored.jpg

Abraham Lincoln                     John C. Breckinridge

Party: Republican                   Party: Southern Democrat

% of Vote: 39.8%                      % of Vote: 18.1%

Electoral Votes: 180                Electoral Votes: 72

  File:StephenADouglas.png

John Bell                                      Stephen A. Douglass

Party: Constitutional Union              Party: Northern Democrat

% of Vote: 12.6%                           % of Vote: 29.5%

Electoral Votes: 39                       Electoral Votes: 12

As the 1850s progressed the firebrands in the North and South became more entrenched in their dogmatic positions. The Transcendental Generation Prophets came to power and compromise was no longer an option. Both Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were from this Prophet generation. Aging Prophets are always the moralistic drivers of Fourth Turnings. Strauss & Howe stress the importance of the Prophet Generation during a Fourth Turning:

A Crisis catalyst occurs shortly after the old Prophet archetype reaches its apex of societal leadership, when its inclinations are least checked by others. A regeneracy comes as the Prophet abandons any idea of deferral or retreat and binds the society to a Crisis course. A climax occurs when the Prophet expends its last burst of passion, just before descending rapidly from power.

The election of Abraham Lincoln proved to be the catalyst for the Crisis. Seven southern states seceded from the Union before Lincoln took office. The attack on Fort Sumter started a spiral of carnage and butchery that could not be reversed. The Crisis reached regeneracy after the Union debacle during the First Battle of Bull Run. Lincoln realized winning this war would require full mobilization and all out war. He ordered the enlistment of 500,000 soldiers, suspension of habeas corpus, taxation, and expansion of government power. The next four years were a swirl of savagery and unprecedented tragedy. It convulsed to a chaotic conclusion with the surrender at Appomattox and assassination of Lincoln in the same week. The Crisis exhausted itself with the climax seeming more like a defeat than a victory.

Are the actions of politicians 150 years ago worth understanding in order to determine how our current Crisis will develop? Since every Crisis period has the exact same generational configuration and generations react to events in similar manner, I believe it is worthwhile to examine the Civil War dynamics. Historian Gordon Leidner’s conclusions about the Civil War period are revealing:


  • Although the majority of the American people– including many moderate politicians like Abraham Lincoln–wanted to avoid Civil War and were content to allow slavery to die a slow, inevitable death, the most influential political leaders of the day were not.
  • On the southern side, “fire-eaters” like Robert Rhett and William Yancey were willing to make war to guarantee the propagation of their “right” to own slaves.
  • On the northern side, abolitionists like John Brown and Henry Ward Beecher of Connecticut were willing to make war in order to put an immediate end to the institution of slavery.
  • Southern politicians convinced their majority that the North was threatening their way of life and their culture. Northern politicians convinced their majority that the South, if allowed to secede, was really striking a serious blow at democratic government. In these arguments, both southern and northern politicians were speaking the truth–but not “the whole truth.”
  • It was also about the constitutional argument over whether or not a state had a right to leave the Union, and–of primary concern to most southern soldiers–the continuation of antebellum southern culture. Although the majority of Southerners had little interest in slaves, slavery was a primary interest of Southern politicians–and consequently the underlying cause of the South’s desire to seek independence and state rights.

The insights gained from the Civil War Crisis are that compromise and moderation are discarded. The firebrands control the field. The Prophets push for an all out war to settle the pressing issues of the day. They are willing to sacrifice the young in their moralistic fervor to satisfy their vision of the future. The final verdict will depend on the strength, judgment, and wisdom of the Prophet leaders during a Crisis.

2012 Election – Crisis Leader Sets Stage for Dark Days Ahead 

  

Nomad (Gen X)   Prophet (Boomer)   Prophet (Boomer)

  

Prophet (Boomer)  Nomad (Gen X)  Prophet (Boomer)


 Artist (Silent)

By 2012 we will have reached the 7th year of this Crisis. The linear thinking media and supposed “thought leaders” are convinced that the worst days of this Crisis have passed. They believe that the Federal Reserve and Government leaders have taken the proper actions to avert a Great Depression. They will be shocked when the Crisis deepens and gets far worse than today. Every action taken by our leaders since 2005 has  worsened the Crisis. Rather than letting the culprits of the financial crisis fail, they have propped up these criminal institutions with taxpayer funds. By not accepting the pain early in this Crisis, these leaders have ensured that this Crisis will be more tragic, brutal and wrenching. The mood of the country continues to darken, even as the mainstream media and government cheerleaders falsely insist that things are getting better.

By year 7 of the American Revolution Crisis, George Washington was on the verge of defeating the British at Yorktown and bringing that Crisis to a positive conclusion. The Civil War Crisis had concluded with Union victory by year 5. The Great Depression/WWII Crisis was in a lull period, with GDP growing by 13% in 1936 as government spending and personal consumption surged. The economy gave the appearance of recovery because FDR’s New Deal programs created make work schemes using government funds. Americans know the 1930s as the Great Depression. As proof of how meaningless GDP calculations are versus how real Americans are affected, the GDP increased by 63% in the four year period between 1934 and 1937. Despite this phenomenal growth, the unemployment rate remained at 17%. In comparison, GDP has advanced by only 5.1% from the bottom in the 2nd quarter of 2009 until today and the unemployment rate on a comparable basis is 23%. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the 1936 election over Alfred Landon in one of the greatest landslides in history, with 523 electoral votes to Landon’s 8.   

The current Crisis appears to be in a lull similar to the 1930s. Government actions can mask deeper problems for awhile, but pressure continue to build. The problems did not go away. The bad debts did not disappear. The Wall Street criminals are still free to loot the American middle class. No one has been prosecuted for the greatest financial fraud in history. The National Debt continues to balloon by $4 billion per day. The USD is slowly being replaced as the worldwide reserve currency. Political ideologues have taken control of both parties. Worldwide trade tensions and social contract broken promises are leading to riots and chaos across the Europe. The onset of peak cheap oil is raising prices for fuel and food and setting the stage for coming resource wars. Fundamentalist religious leaders are pushing for a religious war between Christianity and Islam. The extremists are gaining control of the agenda.

The sudden shift in mood has occurred. The hard working middle class of this country are frustrated, angry and feel betrayed by their leaders. The American people are fed up with all politicians. The liberal ideologues and conservative ideologues have staked out immovable positions on social, financial, and foreign trade issues. Compromise is as likely as it was in 1860. The Tea Party will not compromise. Their agenda is to change politics in Washington DC. They will be a thorn in both party’s side. The possibility of the Tea Party becoming a 3rd party is quite possible. This brings us to the 2012 Presidential election. The current configuration of Congress guarantees that absolutely nothing will get done in the next two years. Both parties will ignore the looming disaster of debt, devaluation, and depression as they position themselves for the 2012 election. The Crisis has not yet entered the regeneracy stage. This is the stage where the country unifies behind a leader and deals with the sudden threats that previously have been ignored or deferred, but which are now perceived as dire. The likely threats are the National Debt, a currency collapse, the Christian/Muslim conflict, Peak Oil, the rise of China, or more likely a combination of some of these issues.

Strauss & Howe‘s words regarding the approaching Crisis, written in 1997, are eerie and haunting:

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability –  problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.”

As I try to assess the next phase of this Crisis, I have been seeking guidance from previous Fourth Turnings. At this juncture, the Crisis seems to have aspects of the Great Depression/World War II and Civil War Fourth Turnings. A financial crisis morphed into recession, much like the 1929 Crash and subsequent recession. Like the Great Depression, government borrowing and spending has given the false hope of recovery. The difference is that  government actions have failed to generate a strong rebound in GDP and unemployment continues to ratchet higher. A landslide election victory by Barack Obama in 2012 is not only impossible; he may not even be the Democratic nominee. The 2012 Presidential election is already destined to be a defining moment in our country’s history. The future path, intensity and pain of this Crisis will be greatly impacted by the outcome of this election. The darkening skies of Crisis are likely to become more threatening by 2012.


A recent Gallup poll gives an early indication of the likely Republican nominee in 2012. The front runners (Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin) have remained static, while the firebrands (Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee) have gained ground. The move towards a moralistic Prophet summoner of human sacrifice is not a surprise. The financial and world events that lead up to the 2012 election will determine which candidate is selected from the Republican field. The firebrands are likely to push to resolve ever-deepening moral choices through military force.

November 2010: Which of These Candidates Would You Be Most Likely to Support for the Republican Nomination for President in 2012? Based on Republicans and Republican-Leaning Independents

Usually an incumbent President can be sure of re-nomination as the Democratic candidate, but Obama’s popularity is so low and his effectiveness as President has been so wanting that a challenge from Hillary Clinton is a distinct possibility. Clinton has the Prophet persona and would command the respect of Americans looking for foreign relations expertise. A failed challenge to Obama’s nomination would likely weaken Obama and allow the Republican candidate an easy victory. A potential wildcard would be an insurgent independent campaign by billionaire Michael Bloomberg. His financial background and moderate positions on social issues could attract moderate Republican and Democratic voters. Another possibility is that the Tea Party is unable to assimilate within the Republican Party and decides to nominate its own candidate. This could lead to an 1860 like situation, with four candidates vying for the Presidency. The victor in this scenario might need to be selected by the Electoral College. The next President could be elected with less than 40% of the popular vote. Could this election result lead to secession movement? Will large segments of the population not accept the election verdict?

Will America Survive this Fourth Turning?  

 

 

We are poised on the brink of the regeneracy phase of this Fourth Turning. The open question is what incident or events will lead to Americans rallying around a Prophet leader. Regeneracy during the American Revolution occurred in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. It occurred during the Civil War when Lincoln demanded full mobilization and total war after the Battle of Bull Run. The election of FDR in 1932 produced a regeneracy based upon his New Deal policies. The issues confronting our nation appear intractable. The government “solutions” to the initial phase of this Crisis have been to paper over bad debts, prop up insolvent financial institutions, defer hard entitlement choices, debase the currency in an effort to alleviate overwhelming levels of government debt, ignore the imminent implications of cheap peak oil, and waging never ending lifeblood draining wars on terror. Ben Bernanke, a self described “expert” on the Great Depression, and his Federal Reserve, which has inflated away 96% of the USD purchasing power since 1913, will be the likely culprit in the next phase of this Crisis. Countries around the world are scrambling to reduce their exposure to the USD. Ben Bernanke has proven unable to comprehend the most basic economic signals (housing collapse, derivatives, Wall Street fraud). He will be blindsided by the sudden collapse of the US currency.

It is likely that phase two of this financial Crisis will lead to the election of a dogmatic Republican Prophet Boomer in 2012. This person will take office in January, 2013, eight years into this Fourth Turning. They will be faced with the realization that peak cheap oil is a fact, as even the linearist thinkers realize that technology and green energy will not provide the bumper sticker solution for our oil dependent society. The devastating combination of a currency collapse, oil supply shortages, and the draining war on terror will either unify the country behind the Prophet leader in their effort to save the country or it could result in the country’s fabric tearing apart with the Federal government losing control of sections of the country. A World War over dwindling natural resources is easily foreseeable. The actual denouement of events remain a mystery. Much will depend on the leader we choose. Much will depend on the strength, fortitude, and sacrifice of the American people.

Strauss & Howe provide four possible outcomes to our current Crisis:

  1. This Fourth Turning could mark the end of man. It could be an omnicidal Armageddon, destroying everything, leaving nothing. If mankind ever extinguishes itself, this will probably happen when its dominant civilization triggers a Fourth Turning that ends horribly. For this Fourth Turning to put an end to all this would require an extremely unlikely blend of social disaster, human malevolence, technological perfection and bad luck.

  2. The Fourth Turning could mark the end of modernity. The Western saecular rythm – which began in the mid-fifteenth century with the Renaissance – could come to an abrupt terminus. The seventh modern saeculum would be the last. This too could come from total war, terrible but not final. There could be a complete collapse of science, culture, politics, and society. Such a dire result would probably happen only when a dominant nation (like today’s America) lets a Fourth Turning ekpyrosis engulf the planet. But this outcome is well within the reach of foreseeable technology and malevolence.

  3. The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.

  4. Or the Fourth Turning could simply mark the end of the Millennial Saeculum. Mankind, modernity, and America would all persevere. Afterward, there would be a new mood, a new High, and a new saeculum. America would be reborn. But, reborn, it would not be the same.

The Fourth Turning is not a prophecy of doom. It is not some sort of Nostradamus like prediction of what will happen on a certain date. The Fourth Turning is part of a cycle of history tied to a long human life that has happened before and hopefully will happen again. Our trials await. Will America respond with strength of character, wise choices, and a willingness to sacrifice for future unborn generations? It is time to find out.

 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

A time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

                                                              Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8



208 comments:

1 – 200 of 208   Newer›   Newest»
Chaos said...

It's long been my conclusion, arrived at after exhaustive reading of food books and food labels, that most people in the US are addicted to sugar. Reducing the amount of carbs, sugar and refined flour in my diet caused me to lose about 10 pounds, and they were significant pounds too, coming directly off my waist. I had exercised like a fiend for years and had always carried that weight around despite my schedule. Eating at restaurants should be done quite sparingly too, as you never know what's in that food you ordered. Must echo the importance in this field of Taubes' work...the book is long and dense, but well worth the read, as are the works of Michael Pollan. Thank you, Stoneleigh, for putting this wonderful synopsis of diet together.

Shamba said...

Stoneleigh, what you have written here in the intro is almost exactly what my GP said to me about a month ago. Except that she thought that whole grain cereals and breads were okay, if they were really whole grains.

Also, I purchased a DVD! thanks that it is available.

peace, Shamba

Stoneleigh said...

Shamba,

Whole grains might be alright for some, depending on your metabolism. I'll probably try to reintroduce them when I get where I'm going. I'll need to see what I can tolerate, and that isn't clear right now. For the time being I eat an Atkins diet, and that has been fantastic. I've struggled with this all my life, and now I feel in control again after three years.

Hombre said...

Candace - From the previous TAE post. Thanks for the link!
That link to the GOM spill was pretty potent stuff, and while I am not at all competent to judge it I have little doubt it is a good evaluation of the complications and damages involved. I will relink it here with a tinyurl...
http://tinyurl.com/2cu62vo

Now... off to read this present post! ;-)

Draft said...

Stoneleigh,

I agree with almost everything you've written. However, I'm dismayed at your citation of The Vegetarian Myth. The book is rife with poor research and anecdotes pushed as science. This amazon.com book review does a good job (in the space available) of pointing out the major flaws in that book. I found many similar flaws when I read it.

I say this as someone who used to eat meat but have stopped due to the difficulty of finding sustainable and affordable meat vs. sustainable and affordable veggies/eggs/milk. I eat a good diet (one not that different than you describe, but without meat).

Aberdonian said...

Stoneleigh,
I enjoy this blog and have found many of your comments about the financial sector very enlightening. However, I have always found your tone of certainty suspicious - most experts in areas I know in depth are usually more cautious.

This brings me onto your synopsis of dietary problems in modern diets. While there is much truth in what you say, I am afraid there are many half truths and oversimplifications in your summary.

I am going to pick on three;

1. "As over-consumption of carbohydrates promotes a state of chronic inflammation, to which the body responds by producing cholesterol"

I challenge you to provide references for these two oversimplifications and no simple association studies please. Ones that genuinely prove causation.

2. "Many people from northern Europe are much less sensitive than most, and can therefore get away with consuming a modern diet without paying the same price. This is luck"

It is very possibly not luck but due to metabolic programming in utero. While not proven, you should at least mention this literature.

3. If your simple story were correct, people on the 'Atkins' diet would all lose weight quickly and easily. They don't. It's better than conventional diets but not by much.

Shamba said...

I forgot to say, thanks for emphasizing the differences that each persons' metabolism has. WE need to be more aware of what our bodies need and don't need.

Have you or anyone ever seen a discussion of how much food they ate in say .... Ancient worlds (not including the cliched orgies of oatrician Rome) or pre-Civil War America as compared to what we eat today. I'll bet the lesser amount of food humans ate in those times was shockingly less than what wer're used to eating these days. And the variety is shockingly less, too, I'll bet.

peace, shamba

Nassim said...

As an experiment, I have put an unofficial index of articles and comments here:

rideswap.co.uk

It will always be one edition behind - so as to index all the comments

Please keep in mind that this is a rather simple effort. However, I find it useful for my purposes.

snuffy said...

Diet is extremely important.Period.You are literally,what you eat.One of the biggest battles I have w/mrs. snuffy is her desire to ensure I live forever,by eating "right",a;though "right"has many definitions.I am pretty sure stoneliegh is on the right path,as is my dear wife,[but I do have a problem w/ peanutbutter cups[small grin],and have a wicked sweet tooth.]
I try..... ...w/vegi's,carrots&salads...dried cranberries,and apples are a preferred treat though.We` eat lots of chicken and brown rice as a staple.I have been leaning to European style breads,as well as Indian Garlic Naan ,this with a matrix of vitamins and supplicates. My Dr. is Vegan,and a nutritionist type, so I get some fair advice from a different type/sort than the usual western diet.

I get sick,literally if I pay too much attention to the "debate"or hoss trading a year of poverty abatement,in exchange for a tax break for the top 2%.
Its sick.Sure got a good return on all the bastaers they bought in this election cycle.Its why I stopped my "news junkie" habit during the health care "debate"[give-away].I saw how far we have fallen,and was sickened to my soul.

Now I am ambivalent.

I know in my heart of hearts this will end badly,and the only real satisfaction will be knowing a lot of those responsible will be joining me in the flaming funeral pyre they have made of my beloved country.Survival of me and mine is all I care about now.

Too much work outside I cannot ignore...

Bee good,or
Bee careful

snuffy

Shamba said...

@Nassim, WOW!! thanks for the link to the list. Lotsa work there!

peace, shamba

Woody said...

Nassim:

Very nice tool - thanks!

If I may suggest a simple enhancement - a separate page listing ALL authors with a link to their histories.

Thanks again.

Christopher said...

Hi Stoneleigh,
I found your article on food and nutrition very interesting. It is highlights a nutritional battle I recently become more aware of. I would distill it down to essentially unrefined carbohydrates versus animal protein. The information is compelling but it is not enough to sway me to change my diet just yet.

Let me put my bias the open, I eat a vegan diet and have been doing so for about 2 years. I have been considering swaying to a vegetarian diet when interesting research pops up. Furthermore, I do live in Northern British Columbia, raised eating home cooked meals with market meats and game meats.

My reasons for becoming a Vegan and eating a Vegan diet are based in Science and Compassion. I eat as local and as fresh as economically viable (my wife and I are students) to keep our footprints as low as possible. To me, what could possibly be more sustainable than what I can grow in my own backyard? I do believe eating animal products can be done sustainably, it will just require a monumental movement to make it so.

I take it as given we agree on eating to maintain the healthiest bodies we can, especially in preparation for hard times ahead. Also, I assume we agree on eating a diet that has a low impact, and is one of sustainability and viability in terms of maximizing survival. Also, we agree there is something very wrong with current nutritional trends and information disseminated to the public.

It is the Science precedent from your article that piques me the most. I recognize your knowledge that you bring forth, but coming from a scientific background (both yourself as a biologist and myself as a health sciences student) I am a bit astonished at the lack of references to scientific literature to support the claims of the “Atkins-esque” diet you recommend and adhere to. In the interest of my time as a student studying for exams, I will also for-go extensive referencing. However, it is a blog, and such is your freedom. I will definitely read Good Calories, Bad Calories and I have seen My Big Fat Diet.

I am not an immovable object, if the evidence is clear to me that a diet high in fats and protein and low in carbohydrates (even from fruit and vegetables) is the healthiest and most sustainable diet, I will switch over in an CVD free heartbeat. However I just don’t see it yet. I have not seen or heard of research to counter the studies and literature reviews of Colin T. Campbell, Dr. Joel Furhman, and Dean Ornish. These guys are to me the “nutritional giants” who all agree on the negative health effects animal protein has on the human diet. Ornish and Furhman have also been successfully treating thousands of patients with advanced heart disease, diabetes, and morbid obesity. In addition, Dr. Gabriel Cousens of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation centre has been curing Type 2 for many years now. Especially interesting to me is Campbell’s research with Alfatoxin caused cancers and how animal proteins help to provide the ideal environment for cancer initiation and promotion. There is also the issue of animal-protein based diets having higher blood acidity and inhibiting Vitamin D activation: prime conditions for osteomalacia and osteoperosis. This is also highlighted in his research. As a trade-off for Good Calories, Bad Calories, I highly recommend reading his book, The China Study.

Also, I would like to mention that traditional First Nations diets had large components of vegetables and dried berries in their diets. Far north, the Inuit do rely almost entirely on meat but the interior and more southern Nations definitely had lots of dried and fresh fruit. Weightloss is not grounds to classify a diet as ideal in my mind. You can drop pounds just as fast by eating a 90% fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes diet with 10% fats and some animal proteins perhaps.

Thank you for your insightful website. I would purchase the DVD that seems to be getting rave reviews but again, I’m a starving Vegan student :P

Cheers!
Chris

David P said...

Wow, and spot - on.

I have been following the work of TAE, as well as others who study macro-economic and energy issues, since I "woke up" in 2008. I am impressed with the quality of clear thinking, and how so much of this resonates with the ring of truth.

I have been following the work of Art DeVany, Robb Wolf, and others in the Paleo-Nutrition community since about 2008 as well. The reasoning of this approach, as well as the clear positive impact it has had on my middle-aged health, also impresses me with the ring of truth.

However, this is the first time I have seen these two worlds combined. What concerns me is what seems a contradiction - advocating a healthier approach to eating is also advocating an approach that takes more acres (and resources?) to produce the healthier calories. How do you reconcile this?

Chaos said...

I'd also refer readers to Nina Planck's Food: What to Eat and Why. Stoneleigh is surely aware, as I am, that some vegetarians/vegans view their diet as much more than just a choice of what to eat...it begins to sound more like a set of religious beliefs, accompanied by moral outrage if questioned. I predict this will be one of the more lively sets of comments (or perhaps one of the more heavily edited).

Another thought: few businesses rely on misleading and outright deception more than the US food industry. Yeah, ok, finance is the other one. But you almost have to be a lawyer to decipher the meanings of the words used on food labels; some of them sound wonderful but mean absolutely nothing. In my view, the industry has forfeited the public's trust, and nothing they say should be taken seriously.

I mean,really,why would you buy food from these corporations when they lie to you constantly?

Grow your own, make your own, cook your own. They are all revolutionary acts.

S said...

Interesting aside on carbs and animal fats. 18 months ago I came to some similar conclusions, after researching type II diabetes ("runs" in the family) and taking a few trips through the literature.

Cut out all grain (except occassional white rice), and keep total carbs under 60g a day, I've lost 150lbs.

I don't think Type II is in my cards anymore. Good on you for spreading the word.

The Q said...

Stoneleigh writes:

"We should also consider nut crops, although woody agriculture has its own challenges"

I find heartnuts are much more adaptable to cool, heavy soil than Carpathian walnuts. Amazing trees.

In the short term, a "field-nut", hull-less pumpkin seeds are easy to grow and process. I grow the "kakai" variety; It grows well even in cool, short season climates. (These are grown for the seeds/oil) The seeds can be dried or baked. These seeds lack the tough, fibrous husk of regular pumpkin seeds. (Take care saving seeds though!)


Also, garlic can be grown anywhere in the temperate world; plant in fall, snap off the "curly-cue" flowers in late spring and harvest when the stalks start to turn brown. (If your soil is heavy, plant in raised beds) Garlic is easy to store when cured and greatly improves boring food.

Also, some might find the BBC "Tales From The Green Valley" series inspiring. Although attempting to recreate rural life in the decades prior to the English Civil War, the setup is not that different from my great grandparents farmhouse I spent my summers at when much younger. (The main difference being a cast iron stove) Living without running hot water is not the end of the world.

Robert Waldrop said...

I am glad to see your writing today on nutrition issues. I have always been overweight, and no low fat diet worked for me. In August this year, I started a low carb diet. I have lost 35 pounds, and even more importantly, normalized by blood sugar. My fasting blood sugars were running 180-220, now they run 110-120, and post meals they are under 140. Like you said, I cut out bread, potatoes, rice, oats, all of which had been staples in my diet. Instead of hash brown potatoes at breakfast, I have hash brown cauliflower, and it tastes great. I took a sip of a soda pop the other day, and my mouth puckered it was so sickenly sweet. I found a lot of support (online friends, recipes and etc) at http://lowcarbfriends.com/ . And the recipes at http://genaw.com/lowcarb/ are delicious and tasty. There's a thread at lowcarbfriends about "low carb food storage", which has been very helpful to me. For those with diabetic issues, Blood Sugar 101 at http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/ I am sure has saved my life. Thanks for having the courage to tackle this important issue and give such prominence to this alternative. PS. The Atkins Diet website has a lot of info and an eating plan for vegans and vegetarians who want/need to go low carb.

p01 said...

Excellent post! I have yet to see a more open-minded and wise person than you, Nicole. Chapeau!

Regards,
Paul

lisazahnwrites said...

Very good introduction on diet and nutrition. I eat a varied diet, some carbs, protein and plenty of fat. Trying vegetarianism 15 years ago did not work for me at all--was at my worst health and eating way too much bread in its various forms. We eat meat, eggs and dairy mostly from local, sustainable farms and for the past 2 years had laying hens chickens in our backyard. Thus, I agree on eating meat.

That said, the one thing that has managed to take away my craving for sugar has been leafy green vegetables. This past summer I became enamored of "green smoothies"--fruit and leafy greens (lots of greens) every day. It wasn't the most sustainable as I was eating fruit and greens from wherever I could get it, but I'll tell you I felt the best I've felt in years. Like a teen-ager again! I believe it was the massive amounts of nutrition in those greens that completely took away my taste for, beyond even just the cravings for, breads and sugars.

It's now too cold in Minnesota for green smoothies but I will look forward to making them again in the spring and summer when, at least, fruits and greens are more seasonable. And as I can now prepare for another summer of drinking them, I will be sure to grow, pick or buy more local produce to freeze for use in them. Berries of all types grow in our climate and work well in smoothies. I've even used gooseberries from the bush in our yard. Apples and kiwi are also wonderful. I think "green smoothies" are just a modern way to eat the massive amounts of foraged greens and fruits our paleo ancestors would have relied on in the warmer months.

RobertM said...

I too have grown tired of the chemical fodder that passes for "food" nowadays.
I became interested in changing my diet after seeing this great video called "Sugar- The bitter truth.

I can certainly attest to how powerful the craving for sugar can be, something I still haven't manged to break free from yet (despite having broken free from another sugar/carb: beer!)

bluebird said...

@Nassim - Thanks for the link, I've bookmarked it for future reference!

thethirdcoast said...

For folks looking for a easy-reading introduction to Michael Pollan I cannot recommend his, "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" highly enough.

This text can easily be read and digested in an evening. Yes, many of his precepts are common sense, but who among us wouldn't benefit from a little external guidance now and then?

Frank said...

Stoneleigh,

I don't question what works for you, but I suspect you are over generalizing. For many more people (including many of the first nations) the issue seems to be refined/simple carbs. Many non European traditional diets relied on rice, maize, potatoes, casava, etc., for much of their caloric intake.

Also, on a worldwide basis, lactose intolerance is an issue for adult dairy consumption. There's a big blotch in Eurasia -- Northern Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Mongolia where adults can drink milk, and a few ethnic groups in Africa. This leaves billions of people who can't.

nss said...

Stoneleigh,

Thanks for introducing this very important subject. Although nutrition is central, few have looked at it from the perspective of energy efficiency. Just as much of our petroleum use is wasted, so too our food infrastructure largely delivers the wrong substances, at great cost. Perhaps your expertise will begin to put this into a numeric framework so that we can better understand how little of our culture results from energy well spent.

Since April I have lost about 50 pound, using a combination of diet and exercise. The diet is a homespun combination based on "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" by Jonny Bowden, and "The Body Ecology Diet" by Donna Gates.

Donna presents a compelling case for thinking of the human body as an ecosystem that supports a vast range of microorganisms, some desirable, some not. Excess carbohydrates tend to feed internal populations of the wrong microorganisms, which seriously damages health. Dr. Bowden explains with remarkable clarity complex issues regarding fats. Generally the two books agree and complement each other. I highly recommend both.

I began preparing for health by taking steps to de-stress my liver. As a former boatbuilder I have ingested many toxins, which tend to become stored in fat. i knew that weight loss, if it happened, would place toxins in circulation, and I would feel sick from that.

To make detoxification less stressful, I eliminated both caffeine and alcohol from my diet. Nobody told me to do that, it was not in any book. But I was well aware of a daily cycle of uppers and compensating downers, followed by the reverse, that was insidious. I had been addicted to this cycle for 40 years and wanted to be free of it. It has proven to be an excellent choice.

I used to eat granola for breakfast, thinking that it was healthy. In fact it is a terrible solution to a morning meal. Now I start the day with a smoothie that contains organic kefir, ground flax and hemp seeds, bee pollen, spirulina, blueberries, and just a touch of Siberian ginseng (eleutheria root) which acts as a bat burning catalyst.

Breakfast typically follows a very early four mile brisk walk, as fast as I can go. At 64 I feel very vital and physically healthier that ever before in my life.

Dinner is based around a soup or salad. Last night I made crackers to go with a soup. The dough combined flax, hemp, and chia seeds with lentils, all ground in a coffee mill. Added to that were lots of garlic, curry powder, and and a small amount of water. The chia seeds have a unique property of absorbing moisture, effectively providing a gluten function. I rolled the dough out on coarse corn meal, then baked it in the oven on a pizza stone. I've used similar recipes to make crusts for pizza and quiche in the past.

a good source for seeds and other natural food components is Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon. I also use garlic, fresh grated turmeric, and fresh ginger as therapeutic foods in many ways. Coconut and sardines also fill important niches in the weekly food cycle. Don't believe the bad press about coconut -- Jonny has much to say on this subject.

If you and Ilargi ever come to Northern California, let's do an "efficient eating" pot luck!

Duncan Elsey said...

Stoneleigh, I did enjoy reading Good Calories, Bad Calories (recommended by our mutual friend Rod) however I did have a few concerns having read it:

Taubes says himself in the closing chapter that there have been no long term cohort studies on the impact of low carb diets, and implores the powers that be to carry one out. The only way we can assess the impact of diets is through these kinds of studies and so we cannot say that there are no long term negative effects to extreme low carb. I would recommend that people also read Eat, Drink and Be Healthy by Walter Willet, who arrives at much the same recommendations (although not so quite so anti-carb) based on such large scale studies.

Taubes is also very dismissive of exercise however there are recent studies that show a stronger correlation between exercise levels and mortality (more exercise = lower mortality) than between weight and mortality. I know we would all love to drop the pounds and do no exercise but I think that this is a plain dangerous suggestion.

Finally we are just getting over the fallacy of diets based on the assumption that “if some fats are bad for us lets not eat any fat”. Lets not replace it with a new fallacy of “if some carbs are bad for us lets not eat any carbs”. There are good and bad sources of all the macro-nutrients – sugar is not the same as unrefined natural complex carbs, just like manufactured trans-fats are not that same as virgin olive oil. If the proverbial hits the fan I will be growing a lot of spuds (in fact I already do) and by the time I have dug them in and dug them out I am not worrying about any undue weight gain!

My policy is to eat things that like what they started life as, have been processed as little as possible and has been treated with respect. I recently did 4 weeks as a complete vegan with no meat or dairy, lots of fresh veg, nuts, seeds etc and a moderate amount of unrefined carbs, and lost 7 pounds. There is no one right diet – you have to educate yourself about what ‘real food’ is and then try to eat it, based on your own values and beliefs.

kaykaypower said...

I am a long-time fan of TAE, and actually was surprised by today's entry about nutrition (seemingly so random, but obviously not). I am further surprised that no one has yet mentioned the Blood-type Diet as espoused by Peter D'Amamo: http://www.dadamo.com/ I have been a proponent for many years now and try to convince others of its value. About 40% of the population is type O blood, and carbs (generally speaking) are not their friends, nor are dairy products. I am type B, and I can eat a balanced diet of animal protein,carbs (though not most grains), and dairy products. Type A is a straight vegetarian, and type AB is part-veg, part type B diet. Read all about it, it makes total sense; the diet that each individual needs to eat to thrive is written in our genes, namely our blood types.

Nassim said...

Lotsa work there!

Shamba,

I am glad you like it. The only real work was in parsing the pages as browsers are very forgiving and almost any "HTML" you throw at it will produce a web-page.

Very nice tool - thanks!

If I may suggest a simple enhancement - a separate page listing ALL authors with a link to their histories.

Thanks again.


Woody,

My pleasure. I will be producing the report you asked for in a while. Like I said, once the data is extracted, the rest (i.e. reporting) is easy.

john patrick said...

Hi Nicole. Thanks again for the great writing.

Like some others here, I'm a vegan. But I accept that if I had to live in the wilderness I'd hunt and fish to feed the family (and myself).

For me, diet is about living sustainably and doing no harm. The same oath a doctor takes.

It doesn't bother me that a rancher/farmer raises meat and slaughters it. Because they care for the animals and choose the time of departure. What I take issue with is factory farming where the consumer is separated from the killing. It seems cowardice to have another do the killing. I realize not all who raise animals care for them. But I feel certain that a corporate agenda to raise animals is strictly profit-driven.

Yes--I am an animal, too. But I'd like to think that years from now, we'll evolve to a point where all forms of slavery/harm are recognized and diminished. If it came down to me eating or starving by taking another life. I do have a choice. And perhaps, I will choose to honor the life of another. Time will tell...

Thanks, again, I&S for the great blog.

T.M.O. said...

I don't want this to sound like an ad for Weight Watchers. However, I have followed the WW Flex Plan for about a year and half (not an actual WW member). I have found it tremendously beneficial for me.

I was always extremely skeptical of any diet plan. I've known many people who have tried them all, or worse, they tried ad doc diets on their own. The two main failings I have most noticed are: 1) restrictive diets that cut out certain foods can't be sustained (other than for medical reasons); and 2) most people don't know how much to eat.

The Flex Plan takes care of both issues. First, you can eat everything. Second, you know exactly how much to each based on your gender, age, height, and other factors.

While you are permitted to eat everything, the structure of the plan naturally encourages you to eat wholesome, high-fibre foods like fruits and vegetables. You can have that chocolate cake for dessert, but you'll have a smaller piece. And you don't have to buy the WW food.

The points counting system guides you on how much to each. I now have it down to a virtual science where I can gain or lose weight at will in a controlled manner.

Exercise is encouraged because this allows you add points, and thus eat more (yay!).

For me, the ultimate goal was learning how to eat the right amounts of both healthy and not so healthy foods without thinking about it. So far so good.

My wife has also had tremendous success with it. We work as a team, which really makes meal planning a lot easier. We also eat home-grown vegetables and fruits.

WW may not be for everyone, and it does take some effort to plan meals and track points, but for people looking to lose weight and get healthy, I'd recommend looking into it. In the end, it's basically just a systematized implementation of the age-old wisdom: "everything in moderation".

Eeyores Enigma said...

Fats are THE most important calories you consume.

Unfortunately the developed world consume mostly "bad" fats and therefore the consensus is that all fats are bad. Typical brainless logic that would be expected from the standardized education system.

Please read the seminal work by Udo Erasmus;

"Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill"

http://www.udoerasmus.com/fatsmain.htm

This is the biggest issue that is completely ignored by vegetarians and those who talk about vegitarian as a smaller carbon footprint. Plug fats into the diet and you are almost right back up there with meet eaters.

I know several farmers who do WWOOFERS and everyone of them has commented how the vegetarians can't hack it unless they are consuming constantly, particularly fats.

This is the PEAK OIL that will really hit home as all of the sources for vegetable oil, oil seed, etc. take huge amounts of inputs and irrigation. Then there is the expelling and processing, huge energy required.

This is the issue I have devoted myself to for the last several years and its a doozie.

Cheers!

GS said...

It's important not to complicate this too much.

Obese people get that way, generally, by consuming too many calories relative to what they burn off, and the excess is stored as fat. However, this process is not noticeable day by day, week by week, month by month (unless you actually take your weight and record it).

In addition, obesity has social aspects as well - the heavier people around you are, the less likely you are to notice it in yourself.

Once you gain weight, it is very hard to get rid of it. It can be done, but it's hard. Obesity surgery is an option, but it can complicate your diet after that.

Generally speaking, a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains is very good, in many ways. But let's be honest - you don't need to completely abstain from that piece of cake, you just can't have it every day - once in awhile is perfectly ok.

So, if you are looking for a magic bullet diet that will make you healthy and young forever, you will fail. Guaranteed.

Mix up your diet to include healthier foods. Monitor your weight, and make changes if it starts to creep up.

It's not rocket science, but I guess you can convince yourself that it is.

Bottom line: don't get obese in the first place.

I. M. Nobody said...

Stoneleigh,

I'm glad you got around to doing this post. It certainly has drawn interest.

@ board

If you are wondering how much good her Atkins diet has done her, she showed me a before picture. Trust me, it has done a world of good for her.

Steve From Virginia said...

Hi Stoneleigh! Thnx for talking about food: I am a vegan/vegetarian. I am not fat, I am 'prosperous'.

Do I change my diet? Yes, constantly. I usually eat beans. The idea is to move down the food chain as the top contains all the various herbicides/insecticides/hgh/antibiotics/petrochemicals and animal 'products' (recycled road kills). I dunno about carbs but I KNOW about that chemo stuff which WILL kill you.

I know because the farmers who use them must wear protective gear and follow 'protocols'.

You have to eat something.

It will take ten or twenty years to reform agriculture so it isn't the enemy of eaters. That's a long time ...

Inflation in China -- everyone sez it is gonna happen here in the US! Wrong!


Chinese hyper- inflation solves everyone's problems. It removes Chinese savings 'surplus' and transfers it to the government, it inflates the value of dollar assets, inflating Chinese sovereign reserves at the same time. It balances current accounts. It takes pressure off the Euro and the Yen. The 'people' suffer, but who cares? The Chinese would rationalize that all wealth derives from the government rather than the people. They would execute a few malcontents, mop up excess yuan and pretend nothing at all had happened.


You heard it here 1st: http://is.gd/ijJc3

4th turning: war of humans vs. the carz. PSSST: the carz are winning ...

Dr J said...

More proof that Stoneleigh is an amazing renaissance woman. Nutrition and chronic disease is my area of expertise and where I have focused my professional efforts for the last several years. I am currently working with a geneticist who has a PhD in nutritional epidemiology and I collaborate with another MD who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry. All that to say that I speak from a good knowledge of the current science. I can attest to the general accuracy of Stoneleigh's position on carbohydrates. Recent studies are telling us that people with insulin resistance have an intolerance to carbohydrates and need to avoid them almost completely. Their other alternative is poor health and polypharmacy. Most of the studies that compare low-carb and other diets are done poorly resulting in poor compliance. The analyses include data from the non-compliant subjects. These are, by design, "effectiveness" studies but the results are invariably interpreted as having been "efficacy" data. This approach muddies the water which only serves the agenda of the vested interests who don't want people to avoid carbohydrates and to discard their plethora of medications. If you can find good efficacy data, you will discover that carb restriction reverses all the cardiometabolic risk factors you can measure. Probably the best data of this type can be found in the studies published by Jeff Volek et al at UConn. Another fascinating aspect of this can be found in the work of Cynthia Kenyon at UCSF who has done pioneering work on the genes of longevity. It turns out that the gene manipulation that significantly prolongs life across species can also be achieved by restricting carbohydrates (Dr Kenyon has been on the Atkins diet since she figured this out). Not only is life prolonged but resistance to disease and other physiological insults is greatly enhanced. This probably explains why nobody in my household gets sick (and we have small children!). I have no problem with anyone who chooses veganism out of sympathy for animals. I do take issue, however, with those who claim veganism will deliver health outcomes superior to a low-carb/high-fat. Ditto for claims we were evolved to be vegan. If we were, vegans wouldn't need B12 supplements.
In terms of preparing for an uncertain future, my biggest concern is where will I get enough dietary fat. Anyone can grow acres of potatoes. Animal husbandry is more challenging, IMHO, but this is where we must go in order to achieve a healthy sustainable post-collapse diet. That and a Malthusian die-off, perhaps.

Third Chimp said...

A very simple thank you for this information on diet. I sort of knew some of it, but the dots are much better connected now. You have likely averted some real hardship, in my family at least.

Nassim said...

I have added new reports to http://rideswap.co.uk

Now, you can list all sources used by AE since it started - 1251

For any of these 1251, you can get more details of what was sourced there. For each of these articles, one gets a link to the AE page and a link to the original. Of course, some of the original links may not work any longer and there is not much that can be done about that. :)

Have fun!

Stoneleigh said...

Christopher,

My reasons for becoming a Vegan and eating a Vegan diet are based in Science and Compassion. I eat as local and as fresh as economically viable (my wife and I are students) to keep our footprints as low as possible. To me, what could possibly be more sustainable than what I can grow in my own backyard? I do believe eating animal products can be done sustainably, it will just require a monumental movement to make it so.

I genuinely sympathize with and respect the reasons people become vegan, and some people can exist on that kind of diet. Others cannot, myself included. I do eat a lot of vegetables, especially green leafy ones and salads, and I also eat a lot of nuts. I eat meat, but not vast quantities of it, as I prefer things like eggs (which I do eat a lot of) and cheese.

At home we raise our own chickens and sheep, so we provided at least some of our own proteins and fats. These animals have a reasonable amount of freedom, and eat a mostly natural diet themselves. Neither the sheep nor the chickens eat much food that a human might otherwise have eaten.

Of course I am rarely home at the moment, so I have no real control over where much of what I eat comes from. I tend to travel with nuts, cheese and 90% cocoa chocolate, so as to make sure to have something I can eat.

I recognize your knowledge that you bring forth, but coming from a scientific background (both yourself as a biologist and myself as a health sciences student) I am a bit astonished at the lack of references to scientific literature to support the claims of the “Atkins-esque” diet you recommend and adhere to.

This is a fair point of course. I have read a great deal on this topic, but do not often find that I have the time to write articles with full references and quotes. Blogging and traveling creates a lot of time challenges. Essentially, writing a fully referenced piece would take me at least 10 times as long. What I'm trying to do with this piece is to get the basic information out there, get people thinking and suggest references that they can read in order to make up their own minds.

Stoneleigh said...

David P,

What concerns me is what seems a contradiction - advocating a healthier approach to eating is also advocating an approach that takes more acres (and resources?) to produce the healthier calories. How do you reconcile this?

I think we need to do our best to be fit and healthy, and if we can do this in a way that uses fewer resources, then so much the better. Where possible we can eat locally grown food that is not produced under the resource-intensive industrial agri-business model.

We can feed our animals the kind of food they need to be healthy as well, and in doing so we reduce both their footprint and ours in eating them. For instance, chickens free to scrabble around in the dirt will eat things that not human would touch, and then turn those food sources into eggs, which are a wonderful source of protein and the right balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Stoneleigh said...

lisazahnwrites,

This past summer I became enamored of "green smoothies"--fruit and leafy greens (lots of greens) every day. It wasn't the most sustainable as I was eating fruit and greens from wherever I could get it, but I'll tell you I felt the best I've felt in years. Like a teen-ager again! I believe it was the massive amounts of nutrition in those greens that completely took away my taste for, beyond even just the cravings for, breads and sugars.

Sounds delicious. Leafy greens are a great favourite of mine, as are berries, although I have to be careful about how many berries I eat. At least they have relatively low sugar, high fibre and high levels of phytonutrients compared to other kinds of fruit. Feel free to post a link to a recipe :)

Stoneleigh said...

RobertM,

I can certainly attest to how powerful the craving for sugar can be...

So can I, and many of my relatives as well. Giving it up was soooo hard. I used to confuse sugar-craving with hunger, but not anymore thankfully.

These days I use a little stevia if I want to take the edge off a sour or bitter taste, but not much, as I no longer have a taste for much in the way of sweet things. Stevia is a natural herb extract, which is infinitely preferable to other sugar-substitutes. The chemical alternatives taste awful and all have health question marks over them.

IMO its better to get away from craving sweet tastes than to satisfy the cravings with chemicals. Sugar substitutes seem to give people the munchies. IMO this is because a sweet taste is enough to prompt an insulin response in anticipation of sugar arriving. This would drop blood sugar and promote carb cravings, which is self-defeating.

Stoneleigh said...

Frank,

For many more people (including many of the first nations) the issue seems to be refined/simple carbs. Many non European traditional diets relied on rice, maize, potatoes, casava, etc., for much of their caloric intake.

Refined/simple carbs are certainly far worse in my view. For some, cutting those out would be enough, but not for others. It depends how much of an intolerance one has developed. I do occasionally eat complex carbs in the form of starchy vegetables like chick peas or sweet potato, but I don't have too much and I try to keep the glycemic index of the overall meal low.

Also, on a worldwide basis, lactose intolerance is an issue for adult dairy consumption. There's a big blotch in Eurasia -- Northern Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Mongolia where adults can drink milk, and a few ethnic groups in Africa. This leaves billions of people who can't.

Agreed. I didn't discuss milk in this piece, but I drink very little of it because the lactose is a sugar. I am not lactose intolerant in the sense you mean, but I simply avoid sugars. I do put milk in coffee when cream is not available, but then the quantity is very small. High fat cream does not seem to contain lactose, and besides, it makes a great cup of coffee :)

I do eat plain yogurt from time to time, with flax meal when available (a tasty source of omega 3 fatty acid).

Stoneleigh said...

nss,

Sounds wonderful :)

I should probably follow your lead on the caffeine and alcohol at some point, but I do still like my morning coffee and my afternoon glass of dry red wine (or sometimes whiskey, water, lemon juice and a drop of stevia).

I am planning to come to California (the whole west coast in fact) sometime in the spring and I would be happy to chat if I end up in your neighbourhood. I need to wait until it's safe to drive over the mountains in my little car. I pushed my luck a bit with the weather out west this autumn and ended up having a few tense times on the roads. Next time I'll be more careful.

Stoneleigh said...

By the way, thank you very much to everyone who posted references and suggestions for further reading, as well as some very tasty-sounding food possibilities. There's so much good information and good food out there. Taking control of our own nutrition as much as possible is a very worthwhile endeavour.

Stoneleigh said...

Duncan Elsey,

Taubes is also very dismissive of exercise however there are recent studies that show a stronger correlation between exercise levels and mortality (more exercise = lower mortality) than between weight and mortality. I know we would all love to drop the pounds and do no exercise but I think that this is a plain dangerous suggestion.

I would never dismiss the role of exercise in a healthy lifestyle. I don't think it has a huge role in weight loss, but I do think it's extremely important. That's why I did the P90X programme for a very long time. I would still be doing it if I wasn't traveling all the time. I found it to be a great way of strengthening all the muscle groups in balance, and so being able to be genuinely tough.

Finally we are just getting over the fallacy of diets based on the assumption that “if some fats are bad for us lets not eat any fat”. Lets not replace it with a new fallacy of “if some carbs are bad for us lets not eat any carbs”. There are good and bad sources of all the macro-nutrients – sugar is not the same as unrefined natural complex carbs, just like manufactured trans-fats are not that same as virgin olive oil. If the proverbial hits the fan I will be growing a lot of spuds (in fact I already do) and by the time I have dug them in and dug them out I am not worrying about any undue weight gain!

People's metabolisms are different, so the same diet won't be right for everyone. I may eat the occasional potato, but I'll never rely on them as a major food source because I simply can't. If I eat them in any quantity, they will only make me hungrier because of the effect they have on my insulin level.

My policy is to eat things that like what they started life as, have been processed as little as possible and has been treated with respect.

Sounds good. I reckon that we won't go far wrong if we eat what we evolved to eat.

Stoneleigh said...

TMO,

You can have that chocolate cake for dessert, but you'll have a smaller piece.

For some this may work, but often only temporarily. IMO it makes a lot more sense to break the sugar addiction once and for all. Then there's drastically less chance of back-sliding and ending up in the same position all over again. I never eat cake, and never feel the need to do so anymore. I'm happier that way as I feel in control.

Stoneleigh said...

GS,

Obese people get that way, generally, by consuming too many calories relative to what they burn off, and the excess is stored as fat. However, this process is not noticeable day by day, week by week, month by month (unless you actually take your weight and record it).

People who are carb intolerant will gain weight on a low calorie but high carb diet, and lose weight on a higher calorie low carb diet. It is not as simple as calories in and calories out. A human body is not a calorimeter.

Once you gain weight, it is very hard to get rid of it. It can be done, but it's hard. Obesity surgery is an option, but it can complicate your diet after that.

It is very sad to me to see people choose bariatric surgery when their problem is a sugar addiction and there are far better ways of dealing with the issue. Those who chose that kind of surgery might not survive at all in a future where they can never eat normally again and require permanent health monitoring.

Losing weight is indeed hard, but it is possible.

Generally speaking, a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains is very good, in many ways. But let's be honest - you don't need to completely abstain from that piece of cake, you just can't have it every day - once in awhile is perfectly ok.

Speak for yourself. What you can get away with and what others can do is not necessarily the same thing at all.

Bottom line: don't get obese in the first place.

Very judgementally said. Following current health guidelines will make many people obese, because there are many who cannot tolerate that diet. I happen to be one of them. We need to challenge received wisdom, especially when it compromises our health for the sake of other people's profit margins.

Stoneleigh said...

Dr J,

Thanks, and it's very nice to see you back in these parts :)

There's a lot of research that needs doing in this field and I'm very pleased that you're doing it. I'd be happy to follow your results if they're publicly available. As you know, this issue is a very personal one for me. I may not be a biologist anymore, and I never did go to med school like I had once planned, but I am still very interested in all things biological.

p01 said...

A fine example of promoting one's ideas as a gospel of truth is the (in)famous China study which has led to this health disaster. Should be textbook example of how the one high priest "thou-shall-die-if-eating-animal-protein" Campbell has manipulated data to fit his preconceptions:
http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

Gary Taubes has his blog up:
http://www.garytaubes.com/
Read the guy's blog. This is real science and critical thinking. Question everything, especially when it's common "wisdom".

Regards,
Paul

Glennjeff said...

Stoneleigh and several members of board:

Thanks for that, solved a really big faimily health query, exactly the correct document for me to read today. I did work as a qualified naturopath for ten years but that was back in the day. That connected the dot's very nicely.

GS said...

Stoneleigh:
If I sounded judgmental, I apologize.

Is something getting lost in translation? Clearly, if losing weight is so difficult, then the best thing that people can do is to maintain a healthy weight in the first place. And the only way to do this is to...monitor their weight.

If you don't check it, you won't know if you are losing, staying the same, or gaining. Simply feeling heavier, seeing it in the mirror, or having to buy new clothes is not enough...you need the immediate knowledge that a number gives you.

This is independent from but also complimentary to dietary advice.

So basically...people have to actually check their weight regularly and make sure it doesn't go up.

To people who do this already, well yeah, ignore me because it's obvious.

But I am absolutely convinced that a good deal of overweight and obese people have no idea what their weight is, or how fast it's going up.

I've tried it myself, and it's helped. I'll check my weight, and if it's gone up by a few pounds, I can actually corellate that to eating habits/patterns or activity that I've had for the past weeks or month.

This is basically what I'm trying to get at.

Hombre said...

Nassim - Kudos, a class A-1contribution!

The Sim said...

Stoneleigh- I've been a long-time reader/lurker here at TAE; your piece above about proper human nutrition was truly exceptional. What you've described matches almost exactly the Atkins diet, which I've been following with great success (and gratitude) for almost 7 years now. I lost 50 lbs, I can run several miles without breathing heavily, my total cholesterol is 150, etc. - at 36 I'm now in literally twice as good shape as I was at 18. Thanks, you've really impressed me, yet again!

An Eaarthly Planner said...

As someone who's been vegetarian for eight years and a vegan for six (and married to a woman who's been vegetarian for eight and vegan for three), I have to contradict you. There is an implicit assumption in your rejection of vegetarian/vegan diets that there shouldn't be an "s" on the end of that word -- that it's a "diet." There are, in point of fact, many different ways to be vegetarian. One can attempt to subsist off of potato chips and coca-cola, for example; but I wouldn't recommend that.

As my wife is also gluten-intolerant, I can speak from direct experience that her diet is necessarily low in carbs and high in vegetables. She also eats her fruits in the morning to encourage them to pass through her system quickly rather than lingering.

On the matter of protein needs, as a long-time vegetarian/vegan I have a hard time being patient with those who constantly ask "but where do you get your protein?!" I get it from my vegetables, and my legumes and, yes, from whole grains. I also bicycle every day, practice martial arts, and have been the same weight since college, so I don't believe I have an energy or protein deficit. I also get an annual check up with a blood test, and routinely am told I am among the healthiest of my doctor's patients.

Obviously one cannot dispute general scientific facts with anecdotal evidence, but just as you chose to cite a book or two in favor or your perspective, I could do the same, and with just as much scientific backing.

I won't dispute your general nutritional analysis, which is superb, but I think you should be more careful when you, with the stroke of a pen (as it were), write off an entire way of life.

bluebird said...

Nice discussion of nutrition and healthy eating. I usually strive to eat this way, but lately I have been enjoying an occasional dish of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

Spouse is addicted to fast-food and he is really going to miss his daily junk fix, but he also enjoys eggs, cheese and nuts. Unfortunately, his serving size is the entire package, so I must label an extra package with my name. :)

For exercise, I still attempt to do the P90X program. Even after a year, I don't look as chiseled as the ladies in the videos, but I am 60-ish. However, I definitely have more upper body strength which is the reason I decided to do the P90X routines.

@Dr J - nice to see you posting today.

Iconoclast421 said...

If you want a more steady source of revenue, it helps to be a bit more accurate, maybe even on the right side of history? These guys will print, print, print, because they can, can, can, and the idiot public who are taxed by this do not care, care, care. Germany must exit the euro in order to even begin to alter our trajectory.

We are definitely experiencing a meltup now and it will probably continue until this $600-$900 billion in new Fed funny money is digested. It is a good thing I hedged my bearish bets with calls on Hecla mining co.

THE BAYFIELD BUNCH said...

Nicole, have you looked at "The GI Diet " (Glycemic Index)... Rick Gallop

He is a graduate of Oxford Univ. and emigrated to Canada in 1964.

Thank you for TAE, I have learned more from reading here than anywhere else although have never commented.....
Best regards to all here....Kelly

An Eaarthly Planner said...

One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier comment -- since you advocate for raising animals only on land best-suited to that (vs. cultivating food or, say, reforestation), you must necessarily advocate for (or accept as inevitable) a dramatic reduction in meat consumption in the developed countries. For the only way such high levels of meat are able to be consumed is through the factory production of "meat" which, I hasten to add, come from once-living animals.

As a vegan, I don't actually advocate for everyone to become vegan. I advocate for them to eat much less meat, believing they'll see the benefits and approach vegetarianism in the limit or, in the best case (from my perspective) adopting the lifestyle altogether.

I should also add, as an aside, that I'm friends with an omnivore who has ditched his fridge and eats only local food, including much that is grown in his garden and that comes from the farms right here in Lancaster County. He necessarily consumes little meat or dairy (only as a treat), since they can't be refrigerated, but does eat eggs, since they don't need to be.

Robert said...

Nutrition discussions from other oily sites. It is difficult to determine what is junk science in this field.

http://peakoilpetroleumandpreciousmetals.yuku.com/topic/10965

http://downstreamventures.yuku.com/topic/3863/t/Happy-Thanksgiving-to-Everybody-on-this-Board.html

Robert Wilson MD

Hombre said...

Ilargi: Thought it might be wise to insert a little warning:...
A word to the wise is sufficient!
;-)

Simply put... as it is possible, eat close to the earth, like those from whom we evolved.

T.M.O. said...

Stoneleigh,

Breaking the sugar addiction is an important pillar in long-term dietary success. If you can do that and avoid all artificially sweetened foods, I applaud you!

In my experience, the number one reason most people fail to maintain their diets is because they are denied too many of the foods we all like to eat. Temptations are all around us everyday. Eventually, most people "crack" and binge back to to their former weight, or worse.

Speaking for myself, I find I now automatically seek out healthy foods as the core of my daily diet. But I also eat some sweet foods every day and have not had any issues with control or cravings. Much of it is homemade, so the quality is better too.

In the end, we each have to do what best works for us. It seems to me that some people are more predisposed to addiction in general. But even for people who are not, eating well, while not necessarily a struggle, is a lifelong commitment.

btraven said...

Stoneleigh and others:

You may be interested in checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation.

http://www.westonaprice.org/

Gravity said...

Would it be possible to define different metabolism types or groups in a way that would be similar to bloodtype, or could such metabolism types have any correlation directly with bloodtypes? I remember reading a suggestion that divergent metabolisms might be correlated directly with bloodtypes somewhere, perhaps by a prenatal mechanism involving antigen factors, but such correlations would be evident by now.

Also, why is there so much sugar in cat food and dogfood, does their naturally meaty diet contain that much? Tins of catfood specifying 10% or more of weight as sugar, presumably the same with dogfood. I believe cats and dogs don't even have sweetness receptors, if these sugars were separately added it would be to boost the caloric content. Maybe the increasingly frequent development of metabolic syndromes in (carnivorous) pets could be exclusively attributable to unbalanced diet.

Kali said...

I love reading TAE, but this essay I found a little upsetting in the know-it-all tone, especially when it came out the you are advocating the Adkins Diet.

It truly is about moderation and eating REAL food, then an individual figuring out what foods work and don't work for THEM. I fear that some readers will take what you write as gospel (since that is the tone you write it in).

I tried the Adkins diet several years ago when a friend was evangelizing about it. I have never had health problems or been obese, but wanted to lose that 10lbs. I have never been more sick in my life, it literally felt as though it was tearing my insides apart and I ended up going to the hospital. Adding whole grains and potatoes back into my diet reversed it immediately.

Over the past 5 years or so I put on about 20lbs, and over the last year I lost 25lbs and feel better than ever. I am back to my college weight of 122lbs and have kept it off for 6 months with almost no effort. I eat nearly all real foods in moderation. The biggest change for me was completely cutting out wine from my diet and going back to drinking beer. Now when I drink one glass of wine I feel as though someone has poisoned me.

So, the real challenge is to eat real food, in moderation, and LISTEN to your own body. It will tell you the truth more than any blogger or book.

scandia said...

I apologize in advance for changing the subject to Assange.
I just read that Visa has joined PayPal in not taking donations to Wikileaks.
From my perch it appears that these companies have judged Assange guilty before he has had a trial.
I just called Visa to protest their action and enquire how/who has decided Assange is guilty of a criminal offence.
The clerk at CIBC says so far she has not rec'd instructions to deny Wikileak donations.
I'm asking everyone to call Visa around the world and raise a stink! Even better ,if they don't recant, cancel your credit card.
I for one will use MasterCard in the days ahead.Unless they also turn gaga stupid like Visa.
IT PISSES ME OFF big time that a credit card company wants to control my associations.
I am leaving shortly to make my protest in person at the bank.

Also read this morning that ATM s in Ireland have shut down to abort the bank run. Has anyone news of withdrawals in France?

Gravity said...

Was listening to Webster Tarpley's analysis of the wikileaks phantom, he suggests the wikiphantom was never an authentic platform of activist journalism, but was conceived directly by a running intelligence operation in order to cognitively infiltrate and disrupt movements for anti-establishment civil activism, and that the platform is currently being used for a limited hangout, to facilitate geopolitical machinations according to the whims of several competing state actors and agencies, by supplying and disseminating potent disinformation and antidiplomatic distractions, perchance formenting political or interstate hostilities while keeping the really dangerous secrets safe.

Assange himself is seen as a malleably mindwiped MK-ultra victim, cultish, dronish and zombified, merely a sacrifical vessel used in a cybersecurity dialectic synthesizing an eventual interweb clampdown to falsely resolve national security issues, whereby the falsified image of his enduring (unjust) persecution only strengthens his legitimacy within anti-establishment movements and thus enhances the infiltrative capacities of the wikiplatform.

Interesting theories there, could be truthful. Nontheless, the singular release or principal dissemination of classified documents may have divergent criminal implications according to their incriminating nature, such as when the documents themselves constitute evidence of criminal activity, incidentally involving evidence of treason by government agents, which may override any prerogative of national security arising from the classification of such documents.
As such, a greater prerogative towards national security may be served by preventing or interdicting criminal activity within government, particularly acts of treason, were such acts to become substantiated or evident (only) by the release of classified documents, the act of release may not itself be rendered criminal, or any further dissemination by citizens rendered autonomously persecutable, as it may be argued that it is not desirable, lawfully sustainable or legally possible for criminal evidence (of criminal acts by government agents or agencies) to be justifiably classified at all.

Tristram said...

I live in Asia, where rice forms the basis of the diet and has almost a spiritual significance. A typical family eats a dry kilo of rice per day. The older generation are all skinny as rails, and very vigorous. Every day I see skinny old ladies pedaling bicycles loaded with 25 kg of fruit. To say that carbs make people fat and tired is empirically nonsense. Refined sugar or corn syrup maybe, but grains no.

Among the healthiest and longest-lived populations on earth is found on the Italian island of Sardinia, where they don't hesitate to enjoy bread and pasta. Nor do I.

I am one of those skinny Europeans who looks down on fat people, though my good fortune is not a matter of metabolism. It involves appetite and taste. Around age 25, I lost my taste for sugar, and stopped eating it without a struggle. I haven't touched a coke or pepsi for 25 years.

Stoneleigh paints carbs with too broad a brush. Grains are fine.

scandia said...

I just made a call to Mastercaed Int'l asking them not to emulate Visa in refusing donations to Wikileaks. I told them that Mastercard has an opportunity to stand for free speech, to allow a courageous man ( Assange) his day in court. I suggested this is a moment of opportunity for Mastercard to take mega business away from Visa.I promised I would be using Mastercard in future.
The clerk took very thorough notes and I do think she will pass my comments up the decision chain.
Or they may cancel my card LOL

Frank A. said...

@Scandia,

According to a story I read at Huffington Post, both Visa and Mastercard are moving to deny donations to Wikileaks. Assange certainly struck a nerve with his promise to expose a major American bank.

Dr J said...

@ Kali - there are some things one can do wrong when starting Atkins that can lead to the problems you describe. For instance, most people do not know that carbohydrate restriction causes your kidney to release salt. This can cause hypenatremia. Many people try Atkins while restricting salt intake and drinking lots of water. That combination will definitely make you unwell. Others try Atkins while continuing their anti-hypertensive or hypo-glycemic medications. Again, a recipe for failure. Thirdly, some people try to eat very low-carb and low-fat by increasing their protein intake. Again, this is not sustainable and you will end up feeling horrible. These are common mistakes and I have even seen some of them in the published research on low-carb diets.

Dr J said...

@ Gravity - Chris Gardener at Stanford published the A to Z trial where he compared Atkins to three other diets. The low-carb diet delivered more weight loss and better improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors but at the end of 12 months compliance had dropped off. He did some further analysis which showed that the people who did best on low-carb were those who were most insulin resistant. I spoke to him recently and he told me that his further work has shown that there is a group of genetic markers which can predict who will do best on a low-carb diet vs a low-fat diet for weight loss. I don't think he has published this yet.

Ilargi said...

To all commenters:

You should realize that Stoneleigh is A) very smart, and maybe even the renaissance woman Dr.J. says she is, and above all B) someone who has suffered through it all for many years, and has lost 100 pounds over the past two years. Put the brain power and the personal need together and you get someone who's very hard to contradict in these matters. She reads all material she can find in the way an academic would, no, make that a scientist in the Popper fallibility sense. Saying things like "a little moderation would do the trick" simply doesn't cut it on the level that Stoneleigh enters the discussion. Saying that Asians eat rice and are still thin is even further out in left field. You should read what she wrote before coming up with stuff like that.


.

Dr J said...

@ Tristram - people who eat a high-carb diet can remain relatively healthy if they do four things: don't eat excess calories, exercise a lot, don't refine the carbs and avoid fructose. In Asia, as I am sure you are aware, things are changing dramatically because these factors are changing. There are now more obese people in China than in the rest of the world combined.

In the current scientific literature, the evidence is pointing at fructose as the most likely driver of the epidemics of chronic disease. You made a wise decision to avoid it (sugar being 50% fructose).

nss said...

Another book: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

This book will teach you how to make fermented foods and drinks. Why is this important?

Raw fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that aid digestion. Good nutrition is not simply a matter of eating the right things -- the digestive process must absorb the nutrients.

Many foods actually promote damage to the intestine -- you can google "leaky gut syndrome" for more info. We are not talking about indigestion, as a pain in the stomach, but maldigestion, which leads to symptoms like bloat, gas, and fatigue. Maldigestion produces malnutrition, regardless of the diet.

Fermented foods support the healing and efficient function of the digestive system.

Stoneleigh, you might read further on Weston Price. He was a dentist in the 1920's who, after seeing the effects of sugar and packaged foods on his patients, began a study of nutrition. Many of the principles that you talk about relate to his work. There is a very active group called the Weston Price Foundation that produces much useful information.

Bon appetit!

Gravity said...

Its been announced that US students viewing or disseminating wikileaks (of classified material) may endanger or permanently harm their employment prospects with government for such 'transgressions', an outrageous attempt to intimidate and threaten citizens with enduring political persecution on an apparent discriminatory and speech-abridging basis of enforced govermental enmity with journalistic liberties and associated political activism, needlessly so, if government had nothing to hide, having properly aligned prerogatives for national security in just conjunction with civil liberties.

As usual, this is not merely unconstitutional, although any such disciplinary measures may be freely discussed within legal parameters of political speech or civil discourse, it certainly remains illegal and criminally indictable to authorise or mandate large-scale persecution in this way.

I. M. Nobody said...

Assange has surrendered to the poodle.

Truth in Chains

scandia said...

@Frank, well then we need to organize our lives to live without credit cards.
I find myself thinking of the past and how agreements/deals were made on a handshake,on one's word. How there was a network of access to funds outside the system based on letters of introduction, etc....It would be good to reinstitute these trust procedures again. For some reason I think the Arab world uses this method? Private arrangements.
And duh, I had forgotten that credit card companies and the banks are one in the same.
Time to withdraw, withhold...buy a few more coins:)

An Eaarthly Planner said...

@Ilargi,

You can't just say "she's very smart and a renaissance woman". Those things must be proved, not asserted. You're basically making an appeal to authority to ward off counter-argument, which sits rather ill with me and, I hope, others.

Ilargi said...

An Eaarthly Planner said...
@Ilargi,

You can't just say "she's very smart and a renaissance woman". Those things must be proved, not asserted. You're basically making an appeal to authority to ward off counter-argument, which sits rather ill with me and, I hope, others.


Here are 860 pages that say I don't just say that:. Come on alright, it's not amateur hour around here. Order a DVD and you can find out more. What sits ill with me is people coming in and writing this sot of stuff without taking the trouble to figure out who they're talking to.

.

scandia said...

@Nassim...great compelation of TAE. The titles are so clever and engaging,no?
@ Ilargi and Stoneleigh, how prolific you have been in only 2 years!

Kali said...

@Dr J
I can assure you I made none of those "mistakes" and researched the correct way to eat on the diet. I was in my early 30s and about 140lbs, and in perfect health. I experienced extreme GI cramping and bleeding. The doctors found nothing wrong with me, I added whole grains, rice, pasta and potatoes back into my diet and have been fine ever since. I also eat healthy portions of meat, cheese, eggs, butter, oils, nuts and all sorts of "fatty" foods.

I truly believe there is no one-size-fits-all diet for every person. People eat too much, and eat too much crap. I started limiting my portions (with the help of informally following weight watchers to start thinking more about correct portions for my height/weight), and started cutting out foods that made ME feel ill. I lost 25lbs in less than 16 weeks easily and have not felt this good in years.

sumacarol said...

Other than possibly the inuit and first nations, is anyone aware of any populations living on a similar diet to what Stoneleigh is describing? Maybe early hunter gatherers? I vaguely remember Taleb (the White Swan fellow) saying that he adheres to a similar diet.

I am furious with Visa and Paypal. If anyone has suggestions on how to work around these folks, I'd love to hear. I will start by writing a letter to both, but hitting them with something a little harder would be oh so satisfying.

scandia said...

I am recalling a comment from a year or more ago by a man who discounted the analysis on TAE because of error in punctuation.
He honestly admited he couldn't hear an argument due to grammar or punctuation errors. Tough being a perfectionist, especially an academic perfectionist.
I am one who appreciates command of language. Some have mastery some have not. I'd hate to dismiss an insight due to form.

An Eaarthly Planner said...

@Ilargi,

Since we're appealing to authority, I may as well point out I have a degree in physics and math, for crying out loud, so, while not an expert (by any means) in biology, I certainly know how to read science and science-like assertions. My wife, though, does have a background in biology and knows quite a bit about biochemistry and physiology (and is a vegan). I also have close to two decades of experience in healthy vegetarian/vegan eating living in my home, which I do not believe is the exception that proves the rule (Atkins being "the rule").

Furthermore, to assuage you, I have actually purchased the online, streaming version of Stoneleigh's presentation, and love it. As the co-founder of Transition Lancaster, I publish a weekly newsletter which makes frequent reference to the analysis published by Stoneleigh and yourself; I know that, by doing so, I have given you a few additional regular readers. So I hardly lack respect.

I will also acknowledge, gladly, that we are each individuals and that Stoneleigh's diet may work quite well for her. I wish her the best. I said in an earlier comment, though maybe somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that I encourage people to eat less meat, not necessarily no meat.

I do, however take issue with (part of) this post. Not the general nutritional information, which, as I indicated in a previous comment, I found quite well-founded (based on my and my wife's independent reading of the scientific literature). But, yes, with the assertions, based on rather flimsy evidence (at least, as cited in this blog) that vegetarianism is "bad" and Atkins-style eating is "good."

And I still disagree with the practice of self-complimenting. Let the argument stand on its own, unless its your intention to quiet people down.

I'll leave unremarked upon the "it's not amateur hour" comment.

Twilight said...

Stoneleigh - also look into MSG and the myriad of names by which it is allowed to be called. It's essentialy a drug given to make the eating experience pleasurable by stimulating (and damaging) neurons, and is part of what keeps people addicted to such unhealthy diets. As I have a reaction to it I know how hard it is to find food without it.

scandia said...

@sumacarol, re " hitting them with something a little harder", let's hope Assange has that hit ready for release.
Because of loss of income and so many needing cards to survive it isn't possible to have public protest bonfires of credit cards. I am recalling the burn the bra protests in the 60's:)
Maybe we could have CUT UP YOUR CARDS neighbourhood parties?

Tristram said...

I spent the entire renaissance cleaning stables and know nothing, except that for billions of humans on earth, the traditional diet is carb-based and the rate of metabolic syndrome on that diet is roughly zero. People who follow those diets are not "relatively healthy." Stunningly healthy is more like it. Go to Sardinia and look for yourself. Asia is ceasing to be a good example, because pollution is killing people with cancer, and people overfeed their young children, and the younger generation eats fast food and some get fat like Americans.

Perhaps Stoneleigh's advice is meant to apply only to people who have already developed metabolic syndrome. Carbs are simply not bad for people born and raised on traditional diets.

Ahimsa said...

Stoneleigh, as a long time reader and commenter at TAE, I admire your work here immensely, but I must disagree with your positive views on the Atkins diet and your demonization of carbohydrates in general. Simple carbohydrates are the evil ones -- for example, sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup so prevalent in processed foods today), refined grains such as white flour and white rice and so on. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates and starches (legumes and beans, whole grains, sweet potato, potato, yuca, etc.) are healthy for our species and most of the world derive a great part of their nutrition -- yes, protein and calories -- from them. We do not need a diet high in protein or fat, but we do need complex carbohydrates for energy, nutrition and health. We need less than 10% of the total calories needed in one day from protein, and it does not need to be animal protein.

John McDougall,M.D. explains this well here.

"This is the FULL 1 hour and 15 minute talk from Dr. McDougall at the VegSource Healthy Lifestyle
Expo in October (2010). With the permission of Dr. McDougall we are making this FULL TALK available below to watch online."


http://www.vegsource.com/news/2010/11/the-starch-solution-every-successful-culture-was-plant-based.html

I'm a healthy 59-year old female who has consumed an organic and vegan diet for the last 16 years. My vegan husband and two adult children are healthy as well. Our vitamin B-12 levels are normal. My internist is always flabbergasted at our excellent yearly blood lab test results. Our diet consists of whole grains (including quinoa and amaranth), legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, veggies, especially leafy greens (kale, collards, New Zealand spinach, etc.) and fruits. I do not drink coffee or alcohol regularly, only on festive occasions. I do drink herbal teas regularly and like non-alkaline very dark chocolate once in a while.

My family initially became vegan for health reasons, but we evolved into ethical vegans. We will not kill an animal to eat its flesh or make an animal suffer to drink its milk, which was not meant for our species to begin with.

Eating an unrefined and organic plant-based diet is good for our health, the environment and the animals.

It was great reading the comments of many well-informed vegetarians and vegans here today. I remember the days when Carpe Diem and I were the only ones challenging Dr. J's pro Atkins diet views! :)

DO NO HARM!

Dr J said...

@ Kali - I agree with you that the bottom line is that if one has found a diet that works, one should stick with it. On the other hand, I do think something odd was happening in your case based on the description of your symptoms.

BTW - I am impressed that you knew about the natriuretic effects of carb restriction several years ago since that information has been in the public domain only very recently. You must read the obscure journals.

T.M.O. said...

Stoneleigh,

In your article, you wrote "We do not need carbohydrates…"

I'm not in a position to dispute that, but haven't human civilizations always consumed grains, going back thousands of years? In fact, haven't grains always been a staple? Bread seems to have been a basic necessary food among ancient peoples.

Ancient Rome even had "corn" laws requiring the minimum distribution of corn ("corn" meaning grains like wheat, not maize). Bread and circuses, and all that.

Doesn't this suggest that humans in general are adapted to eating grains, and thus carbohydrates? I realize there is a difference between tolerating a food and NEEDING it. It just seems odd that grains have had such a long history as part of human diets, but now they are bad for us (corruption of the food supply aside).

logout said...

Stoneleigh you say:

"I was once a biologist, hence reading through the scientific literature on nutrition was not a problem."

Great, cause I was once a free thinker, but now you cure me:)

I used to look at the teeth of dogs and cows and think that because dogs have no grinding teeth and cows do, that humans, having teeth capable of grinding should eat grass as do those ungulate pals of fen and field. I sure hated that grass diet I was on.

Tristram said...

I should also note that Asians are not averse to eating fat like many Americans. Historically, they ate not much protein or oil because it was expensive, but no drop of animal fat went to waste, and they will happily eat bits of pure pork fat with their rice and vegetables with fruit for desert. Roasted baby pig with a one-cm layer of fat is a delicacy at traditional weddings. Fatty sliced pig ears is a favorite of the older generation. American demonization of animal fat has probably gone too far.

Stoneleigh said...

I would like to point out once again, that people's metabolisms are different. The case I make is for one kind of metabolism, albeit a very common one. For anyone who thrives on a vegan diet, or a carb-based diet, more power to you. I am not trying to talk you out of something that works for you. What I am saying is that a carb-based modern diet is poisoning a large number of people who cannot tolerate it, myself included. This essay explains why and how.

If you have had weight issues, you might want to consider eliminating carbs as a way of addressing your problem. What do you have to lose but the criticism of those who do not understand your condition? Why continue to put up with being judged morally inferior because your metabolism is what it is?

Dr J said...

@ Tristram - what appears intuitively obvious may turn out to be wrong. For example, consider that for millennia people intuitively thought the earth was flat. This is why we have the scientific method. Many people intuitively believe that obesity and the related chronic diseases are simply due to excess calories from eating too much or exercising too little or both. The science is actually telling a completely different story of metabolic dysfunction related to macronutrients in the diet. Gary Taubes' excellent book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" takes 640 pages (and 1200 citations) to explain this so I cannot do it justice here. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in how we got our nutritional policies so badly out of whack.

Here are a couple of other sources you might find interesting:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2100251/Jared-Diamond-The-Worst-Mistake-in-the-History-of-the-Human-Race

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/2009/12/091201_exchanges_frontier_list.shtml

scandia said...

CTV has a report that Professor Flanagan is being investigated by the Calgary police for his assassination threat against Assange. Apparenly the police received a flood of calls from Calgarians. Most encouraging development!The Conservative Party is distancing itself from Flanagan saying The Conservative Party hasn't had any association with him for years. Ha! From what I've read Flanagan masterminded the last federal election for the Conservatives.
I do think the RCMP need to take over this case, not leave it to the Calgary Police.
I have yet to receive a response to my letter to Prime Minister Harper. I am most eagar to learn his position on assassination.

Reading on ZeroHedge that the hackers have declared war on PayPal, credit cards, banks. It would be prudent to get some cash in hand to-day as the electronic banking system will be unreliable at best.

Eric Lilius said...

In the article about the Federal Reserve as the global bailout machine
http://tinyurl.com/2eclpcl
there is mention of three Canadian banks. I went to the Wall Street Journal database
http://tinyurl.com/2d856oh
and found that all five major Canadian banks got loans from the Federal Reserve through their American branches between 2007 and 2010. These are totals for that time period.
Royal Bank of Canada
$34,734,000,000
Toronto Dominion
$27,465,000,000
Bank of Montreal
$6,856,400.000
CIBC
$5,280,000,000
Bank of Nova Scotia/Scotiabank
$27,767,300,000

The database pops straight into a spreadsheet.

Dr J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loveandlight said...

I haven't even finished reading this yet, but I just want to say that I wish I could give Nicole a gold crown with the words "Totally Awesome And Pretty Much Right About Damn Near Everything" engraved on it! :-D

I. M. Nobody said...

TMO said...

In your article, you wrote "We do not need carbohydrates…"

I'm not in a position to dispute that, but haven't human civilizations always consumed grains, going back thousands of years? In fact, haven't grains always been a staple? Bread seems to have been a basic necessary food among ancient peoples.

It's a good thing you threw in the word civilizations. Prior to learning how to cultivate and process grains, apparently about 4-6k years ago, humans could not have had much use for grains. The cave walls were covered with paintings of meaty animals, not fields of wheat.

Cultivation of grain must have played a very large role in forcing civilization upon humanity. Which leads directly to the rise of the criminal bankster class. Maybe not such a wise choice on the part of our "ancient" ancestors. We have ancestors far more ancient than the ones you mentioned and they lived quite differently on a quite different dietary regimen.

I don't think evolution has yet had enough generations to complete all the adaptations and it may not get there before we see to our own extinction. Civilization is synonymous with large densely settled populations. Until recent times that made a meaty diet for the proles pretty impractical. Grains are easily transported, stored and baked into bread. That makes them essential to civilization, but not necessarily all that good for you. The upper crust seem to have tried to make sure they still had lots of meat on their tables. It's really just economics.

Dr J said...

Trying again:

http://tinyurl.com/kenyon-bbc

I. M. Nobody said...

Dr. J,

That URL works, but you might have pointed out the Ms. Kenyon's video is on the Tab marked "Ageing".

Oh, and good to see you joining in on this topic. I hope to see you here more often.

Rumor said...

Gold intro, Stoneleigh, and we're at platinum levels of useful information with all the comments. Thanks for that, and to everyone who's commented.

Scandia, I share your concerns about wikileaks, but there's little we can do to affect the process going on right now, I'm afraid. I'm hoping I'll still be able to donate a sum to them in January, when I'll have some more discretionary funds to spare, but we'll have to see what shape things are in by then. I remain confident that even without Assange, the organization will go on, and without wikileaks, other organizations will spring up in its wake. I'd prefer, of course, that these various extra-legal means of persecuting Assange and Wikileaks go away, but this is the world we live in.

In any case, you might be interested in reading this essay.

And this discussion.

T.M.O. said...

I.M. Nobody,

Leave it to you find the historical link between ancient grains and today's criminal bankster class. You're TAE's answer to James Burke. God bless you.

Just for fun, try these:
• coal tar and Goldman Sachs
• sickles and CDOs
• fossils and fiat money

BTW: Yes I did deliberately use the term "civilization".

I'm not saying Stoenleigh is wrong. Based on my own readings on the subject I heartily agree with just about everything in her article.

I just raise the question, based on the fact that humans across the planet have subsisted on a diet heavy with grains for thousands of years. Even if you don't eat grains, it's pretty hard to avoid carbohydrates since they are also found in fruits and vegetables.

Sorry, everyone has to eat what's right for them, as Stoneleigh herself said. I eat everything because I can. I eat healthy foods, I eat some not so healthy foods, drink coffee, exercise regularly (cardio and weights), maintain a healthy body weight, and I feel great. Last physical: flying colours.

Dr J said...

@ IMN - thanks for that. I have been an intermittent lurker of late. I am at it hammer and tongs at work and we have a lovely little toddler underfoot at home so my screen-time is more constrained now. This subject is dear to my heart so I am making the time at the moment.

Gravity said...

First amendment notwithstanding, government would now needlessly entertain and enforce antagonism or enmity between itself, its own interests and vital journalistic liberties and associated political activism, to the detriment of all, whereas there historically exists a perfect enmity between the conceptions and workings of civic duty, by extension governmental or statewise integrity, and all things tyrannical and treasonous.

In addition, one might prefer the arrangement where government is subordinate to, or property of, the administrative or historical entity of the state, whereas the state is then subordinate to, or property of, the sovereign citizenry, rather than the state being directly subordinate to government, and said government being subordinate to the sovereign citizenry, both ways being immensely preferable to arrangements where the citizenry are somehow made subordinate to, or rendered property of, any such administrative or governmental constructs of their own devices.

As such, release and dissemination of classified (diplomatic) material shouldn't normally threaten the integrity of the state at all, it would only threaten ill-founded government legitimacy. Revealing inherently damaging undiplomatic dealings, while not detracting from proper diplomacy, would only damage the current administration's reputation, not that of the associated state entity. Any resulting incrimination of government agents for illegal actions would only damage those individual agents as a result of their own criminal actions, which is congruent with national security, and could only be opposed to national security when securing political legitimacy is based on (sustaining) illegality. By similarly defective reasoning it could be argued that election results ought to be arbitrarily classified and falsified by prerogatives of national security whenever threatening continuity of government's political interests.

Brad K. said...

Stoneleigh,

In addition to sugar, I think the ice cube is a significant dietary threat. I first heard this discussed on late-night radio in the mid-1960's, and find little to challenge that thought.

I know my own experience with reflux disease (GERD) finds that chilling the stomach with chilled foods does, indeed, stop digestion until the stomach contents return to body temp, and then digestion can resume.

I would like to see you discuss this with Sharon Astyk (Casaubon's Book), as she promotes lactofermentation and pickling for food preservation.

I found food testing - part of applied kinesiology, a study within chiropractic care - invaluable in determining what my body tolerates/rejects each day.

@ Robert Waldrop,

After years at 310 lbs, I started losing weight a couple of months ago. I started eating bologna on a chunk of french bread, daily. Supper is often a 1/3 recipe of brown rice in a 6 cup rice cooker, either with a cup (drained) of veggies (corn, carrots, green beans, or peas that Wal-Mart sells in snack packs), or a short can of beans and weiners with the rice. Cereal or oatmeal with raisins, in water, for breakfast. Sometimes Ramen noodles with veggies. Cinnamon (500 mg), milk thistle, Omega 3, and "Visual Formula" (also from Wal-Mart) for supplements. Occasional (1-4 a month) St. Johns Wort for moderate depression. Lots of water, Honey Lemon Ginseng or decaf green tea.

Mostly I am just eating less, and eating out less.

Dr J said...

@ Brad K. - it is possible to lose weight on the diet you describe but it is not what I would consider a healthy approach and, in the long run, will not be sustainable. At your weight, I suspect you have developed insulin resistance. That means you need to severely restrict carbs and, after you stop burning off your body fat, you will need to start eating dietary fat. Get a copy of the latest Atkins book, written by Drs Westman, Phinney and Volek, all of whom are experienced researchers in this area, and stick to the induction phase indefinitely. I know this is sustainable because I have done it for over eight years now and there is no way I would go back to a diet high in carbs.

I. M. Nobody said...

Dr. J,

Stoneleigh told me a bit about you. I have no doubt that you are a very busy man. Congrats on the toddler.

@ TMO

You do me way too much honor. I loved Burke's documentaries. I cannot hold a candle to him. But, thank you anyway.

Yes, subsist was another good word to insert. Many people do survive on little more than bread, but they don't often look very healthy. Stoneleigh's case is unusual and most of us can tolerate carbs pretty well. Total avoidance of carbs would seem to be nearly impossible as it is even for her.

Happy to hear of your good health. Mine is not so good, but there has been lots of improvement once I was able to escape the hi-carb diet the hospital put me on. My recovery was in doubt until the medication finally started to work and I could chew and swallow meats, fats and vegetables. I still have a sweet tooth and indulge it more than I should, but with as little sugar as I can manage. You are welcome to the rest of my share of it. :)

T.M.O. said...

I.M. Nobody,

Tonight at dinner, I will drink a glass of homemade wine and toast your health. All the best for a full recovery. God speed.

I. M. Nobody said...

Another off topic article by the estimable Tom Englehardt to remind us of how our betters are treating us like mushrooms and of what kind of people are doing the suffering and dying in their tragic wars.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Epitaph from the Imperial Graveyard

The return of soldiers to numerous combat tours had it's counterpart in WW-II. That was the requirement that aircrews complete a number of combat missions before being replaced by new crews. On one the earliest raids by the US 8th Air Force against the ball bearing plants in Schweinfurt, 26% of the Flying Fortresses did not return. The rotation number was 50 missions and at that rate of attrition crews began to doubt they could do more than 5.

You have to wonder how many soldiers are starting to wonder if they can stay alive long enough to retire.

tycho said...

Its funny but the two ideas I hold that are the most contrairian amogst my friends, are my views on the economy and a low carb diet.
Both seem to be rejected by most of the people I discuss them with, not because of the evidence, but because people simply don't want to hear anything negative about two things they cherish (our lifesyle of consumption, and the love of sugar (and refined carbs).

I realize anecdotal evidence is always suspect, but I wanted to share my experience after adopting a diet very similar to what Stoneleigh advocates.

Changes in the last year: lost 25lbs (leaner at 39 than ever before in my life!), more energy, better skin & hair, sronger nails, no more indegestion, heartburn, or gas, not as "hungry", better immune system (sick less often), and most importantly EVERY SINGLE BLOOD MARKER FOR "HEALTH" HAS DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED! This is after YEARS of trying the low fat, high fiber, whole grains approach to a "healthy" diet.

Remember, as a species, we evolved on a diet of meat and vegtables for a 1000 generations. Whereas we switched to a primarily carb based diet only for in last 100 or so. In that context, the idea that meat and animal fat went from sustaining our species for millennia to suddenly being bad for us seems a little suspect.

Grains fostered civilization by allowing the production and storage of a nutrient (and calorie) dense food stuff. This however does not mean they promote optimal health! The main metabolic disorders of our time (heart disease, hypertension, hyperinsulemia, and type 2 diabetes) are called "diseases of civilization" with good reason.

For those looking for some good science supporting this dietary approach, I strongly recommend "Protien Power" by Dr.'s Micheal and Mary Eades.

I. M. Nobody said...

TMO,

Thank you, but a full recovery is out of the question. I have myasthenia gravis. An incurable autoimmune disease. All they can do is suppress it enough so that I can live, but not very actively I'm afraid. Unlike Dr. J, I am afforded plenty of tube time. I will add that except for the myasthenia my health has been good and so far this fall I am the only one in this household that has not had any kind of respiratory infection despite taking immunosuppressants.

Eliza said...

Stoneleigh,

Thank you for your excellent post. What a coincidence that, after being away from here for some time, I happened to visit today after finishing Taubes' book (re-reading, I should say).

I have been reading Eng and Fallon's book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, and as they recommend, I am incorporating coconut oil into my diet. I have a question for the board; does anyone have information about the fructose content of coconut water? Trying to figure out if it is okay to drink coconut water...

Bigelow said...

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, a cookbook -YUMMO!

Chronologically speaking my wife has most of you beat, she has been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 39 years.

Dr J said...

@ IMN - there is a profound relationship between immune function and diet. I have collected anecdotes from colleagues where ketogenic diets have resolved autoimmune disorders. I am not fully certain of the mechanisms but it is clear that significantly reducing carbs results in much lower levels of inflammation, reduced oxidative stress and better immune system functioning. Fructose is particularly pro-inflammatory, as are the high-omega-6 vegetable oils. These you should avoid whether you do low-carb or not. A low-carb diet is a dramatic metabolic game changer so it is not surprising that there may be immune system benefits, as well. Have a listen to the Kenyon interview and have a look at this recent article on her in the Daily Mail (http://tinyurl.com/kenyon-daily-mail). All this to say, I would encourage you to try it.

T.M.O. said...

tycho,

Good points on grains and civilization. It makes perfect sense. IM Nobody said basically the same thing.

Good for you on the weight loss and finding a diet that works. I lost 70 lbs. on the Flex Plan and no problem keeping it off.

However, I just can't win. Now, my mother (a plump, old Italian lady, god bless her) complains I have no ass.


IM Nobody,

I hear too much of this sort of thing these days, unfortunately. Too many of us getting sick. It's got to be more than the food, but I won't go there.

Good evening.

Eliza said...

Dr. J,

Glad to see you are blogging again!

What's your take on coconut water with regard to fructose?

eliza

RAP1 said...

[I’m not sure if this made it through to the comments the first time, so I send it again.]

A couple of additional points on the nutrition issue:
1. The importance of growing/sourcing nutrient dense foods
Human health is inextricably linked to soil health. Because of the way we’ve managed our soils in the US the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables has been dropping since records were first taken. On average, there has been a 63% decline of basic nutrients in today's produce as compared to produce raised in 1941. We have to learn how to grow crops with higher nutrient content. Growing nutrient-dense food begins by boosting and balancing the soil’s major minerals and trace elements. Once minerals are restored and in balance, optimum living conditions are created for the biology of the soil to thrive, and for the food we grow in it to gift us with the nutrition we need.

2. Achieving a healthy metabolism
We require minerals and nutrients in the right combination for the basic processing and detoxifying of our bodies. Without, we become weak, toxic and are more vulnerable to illness. In my opinion, we also need the right balance of the protein-carbohydrate-fats macro-nutrients. My experience with low carb dieting is that fat not only stops falling off of your body, but comes back, along with falling energy levels. I’ve been on a few low carb honeymoons! Reducing carbohydrates in your diet to an extreme level slows down the metabolism, the opposite of what you probably want to do. Body temperature needs to rise so that metabolic activity can increase. An increased metabolism burns fat rather than shunting it off for storage in fat cells. Carbohydrates, when paired with protein, keeps the metabolism stoked, provides better protein deposition into muscle cells.
Potatoes are anathema to low-carbers. Yet you can grow a potato that has 11- 12% protein, as much as human breast milk and all the vitamin C a person could need. And grown in nutrient dense soil conditions you’ll get lots of extra bundles of minerals like calcium and vitamin A.

scandia said...

@Rumor, thanks for the 2 excellent links on Assange especially the essay on intent!
You're a pal!

@Eric Lilius, those are stunning numbers re Cdn bank draws on the Fed. I am rubbing my eyes. Is that billions or trillions?

Dr J said...

@ RAP1 - I agree with your thoughts on soil. Your views on low-carb are a little off the mark, however.

"An increased metabolism burns fat rather than shunting it off for storage in fat cells."

Actually, the science on this is quite clear. It is the presence of insulin which shunts fat off to the fat cells and inhibits its oxidization. This makes sense, since we must get rid of the excess blood sugar from a carbohydrate-rich meal. Not only does insulin facilitate the burning of glucose, it also pushes fat out of the way at the same time. For people with insulin resistance, fat storage becomes the norm due to their elevated insulin secretion. To lower insulin, one must cut out carbohydrates. This, then facilitates the release of stored fats which can be burned. The metabolic rate may also go up but this is related to the correction of a signalling dysfunction related to the hyperinsulinemia and leptin resistance.

Metanis said...

Ilargi: Even though we could see this coming from miles away, it is still sickening: people on the verge of utter despair are being used as bait to get the richest 1% of Americans their tax cuts.

Class envy. Some things never change.

Ruben said...

@Dr. J.

So how many people have insulin resistance?

Bryan McNett said...

The decline of food supplies and living standards is a crucial problem - and has been for thousands of years.

There is evidence that agriculture itself is inherently unsustainable, and is the cause of grave health and societal problems:

http://scr.bi/1643CM

http://bit.ly/aA6T6u

A Fall Guy said...

I think it’s important to separate “rehabilitation from the modern diet” from “a sustainable resilient food system”.

Many westerners suffer ill health from industrial food

Rehabilitation from the modern diet mostly involves weight loss, but also increased energy and stamina, and reduced exposure to chemicals. Atkins diet may help some, but not all, as is clear from individual experiences.

Rehabilitation from the modern diet is a key step in preparing for a post-peak oil, low credit future, which will require more physical work and hardship. Stoneleigh’s post provides very useful information in this regard. As she says “The clearest factor showing a huge increase in consumption paralleling the increase in the incidence of the 'diseases of civilization' is … sugar and other refined carbohydrates”. But such rehabilitation should not be confounded with sustainable food systems that we must prepare for.

We evolved as hunter/gatherer societies, better called gatherer/hunters because archaeologies have found that in most cases, there was more reliance on gathering than hunting. That is, lots of greens and carbohydrates, and some meat.

Many, if not most, great civilizations had grain at their foundation (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, Maya, Aztec). Grains can be stored for a very long time, as long they are kept dry and free from other animals. Unlike other preserved foods, the whole grain is alive and so doesn’t lose as many nutrients. For many in the past, stores of grains (and potatoes) meant survival.

Looking forward, a sustainable and resilient food system requires us to think in terms of “what the land can provide”. We have to consider the energy required not just to grow food, but also to store and process it. The systems perspective of permaculture considers how to capture and store energy flows through a food production system, as well as external inputs (e.g. peat moss, leaves, manure, fossil fuel). I am applying this to my small acreage, which includes some sheep. While I am not entirely vegetarian, my meat intake is low in large part to keep within sustainable limits.

Given that human population has over-shot global carrying capacity, a responsible approach is to first rehabilitate ourselves from the industrial food system, then develop and support sustainable, resilient food systems that minimize energy inputs and arable land requirements.

VK said...

Whatever our present diet in relation to our ancestors, there is one indisputable fact.

Humans have never lived longer and more healthier than any preceding generation :)

Thanks to fossil fuels I might add. The best diet it seems is an oil based one.

VK said...

Google "life expectancy"

Go to list of countries by life expectancy.

Countries which consume high quantities of sugar are high on the list including Canada, Australia, US, UK etc. Countries with lower sugar consumption like my home country Kenya are well below in the list, by something like twenty years as well as other poorer countries where the popn. simply can't afford chocolates or sweet desserts.

Moral of the story, life expectancy depends more on social status, fossil fuel per capita and high sugar consumption (ok, that was me being cheeky)

VK said...

Now fructose is fructose regardless of whether it's from corn syrup or fresh fruits and even chocolates. It's the same molecule.

Now this is a handy list I found of chocolate consumption per capita


The following list shows countries with the highest chocolate consumption per person in 2005.

Germany … 11.12 kilograms of chocolate per person (up 7.8% from 2002)
Belgium … 11.03 kgs (up 24.2%)
Switzerland … 10.74 kgs (down 1.7%)
United Kingdom … 10.22 kgs (up 2%)
Austria … 9.43 kgs (up 18.3%)
Norway … 8.53 kgs (up 3.1%)
Denmark … 7.74 kgs (down 16.3%)
France … 6.78 kgs (down 2.6%)
Finland … 6.77 kgs (up 3.7%)
Sweden … 6.76 kgs (down 17.1%)
United States … 5.58 kgs (up 4.1%)
Australia … 5.31 kgs (up 22.1%)
Italy … 4.26 kgs (up 8.1%)
Canada … 3.90 kgs (no change)
Poland … 3.67 kgs (up 11.2%).

Notice that every one of the countries above have high life expectancies in relation to the rest of the world. Hmmmmm.

I. M. Nobody said...

I'm sure all Joe Bageant fans will be anxious to read his new post.

AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM?
Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga

Hombre said...

Stoneleigh - "The clearest factor showing a huge increase in consumption paralleling the increase in the incidence of the 'diseases of civilization' is not fat, of which paleo-diets contain substantial percentages, but sugar and other refined carbohydrates."

Refined being a key word, I surely agree with this, and would add that there is substantial evidence that many of our "diseases" appeared in parallel with the domestication of animals.
It seems that as our minds and habits grow more "civilized" our bodies inversely deteriorate. I have little doubt that those who inhabited this land before the Europeans came were a stout and sturdy bunch. Of course a high percentage of them fell to the diseases of the "white eyes."

We are what we eat, and what we know? ;-)

Hombre said...

I always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, haven't made it yet. But not this way... :-)

"Meanwhile, here we are, American riders on the short bus, barreling into the Grand Canyon. With typical American gunpoint optimism, we've convinced ourselves we're in an airplane."
--Joe Bageant

RAP1 said...

Dr J
Re: insulin
Sorry Dr J but I don’t see it in the way you describe. I’ve relied on the works of T.L. Cleave, Denis Burkitt, and, in particular James Krieger at http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?page_id=459 for my information on this subject. This may not be mainstream science but is a logical, well reasoned argument for understanding how insulin works in the body. You could also take a look at Matt Stone’s
Web site http://180degreehealth.blogspot.com/ if you can stand the informality.
According to these folks most people’s bodies are NOT working correctly when the muscle cells are resistant to insulin. This is where the problem lies, and there is no single piece of evidence the world over that suggests that unrefined carbohydrates consumed by human beings over the past 10,000 years has anything to do with causing insulin resistance. One of insulin’s wonderful qualities in preventing obesity and metabolic disease is the fact that it works in concert with leptin to suppress appetite, increase lipolysis/fat burning, and stimulate metabolic rate. When you return to eating lots of carbohydrates, they are very fattening until the point at which your cortisol levels fall, your metabolism rises, your insulin resistance decreases, and then… finally, your muscle cells start receiving nutrients and you begin to feel better.
The ever-popular way to deal with insulin resistance by taking carbohydrates away from a person may have all kinds of benefits in the short-term. This is because chronically-high insulin levels as a result of insulin resistance (not caused by unrefined carbs) are lowered, and many other systems are able to come into balance because of this drop in insulin. However, it is a dead end, and is not fixing the problem. Eventually, a person on a low-carb diet will run into negative symptoms of insulin deficiency. Eating unrefined, nutritious foods without severe macronutrient restriction but with an emphasis on starch to increase insulin sensitivity and lower cortisol most certainly has worked for me. This is an abbreviated version of a much longer story, and I urge you to take a look at the references I’ve given.

EBrown said...

Thanks for putting this topic out for discussion since it is important, though I hope it doesn't re-ignite the endless diet round-a-bouts of TAE yesteryear.

I have to second the clearest message that Stoneleigh delivered in the comment section. People are different in the their metabolism of sugars and in their sensations of hunger. I could eat huge amounts of sugar and starches and remain pretty thin. I spent years as a vegetarian with bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. as foundational elements of my diet and weighed the same then as I do now on a lower-carb, higher fat regime. I still eat bread and some fruit, tons of veggies, plenty of animal products from healthy animals, and the occasional beer/wine. My energy levels are slightly better when I avoid sugar, but not dramatically so. That's just the way I'm wired.

I used to think people who were over weight were weak willed. Now I would never, ever judge someone else in that way. I eat every single time I'm hungry, and often more than I "need" to satiate myself. The ONLY reason the experts don't classify my consumption as "overeating" is because I'm thin. I chronically overeat, yet I'm totally normal weight (5'10", 147 lbs). Only twisted logic can define a cause of a condition - overeating causing overweight - in such a tautological manner. For more go check out Gary Taubes' new blog - www.garytaubes.com

Glennjeff said...

Right on cue they flee their paper bullion, most amusing.

Fuser said...

I feel compelled to throw my two cents in. Having had the great honor of spending some time with Stoneleigh, I can tell you, based on the pictorial evidence she provided, that the diet she advocates has done a great deal of good for her. I hope it helps others.

I'm vegan myself and am coming from a viewpoint that factory farming is evil. Chickens should be free to roam. Cows with 25 year life spans should not be slaughtered at age 5 for someone's Happy Meal. Dairy cows should not have their babies taken and turned into veal and their milk taken from them to fatten our kids.

That said, common ground between the two diets can be found in red wine, high cocoa chocolates, and delicious raspberries.

Love you always Stoneleigh and you are always a most welcome guest!

I. M. Nobody said...

Fuser,

You said in a comment awhile back that you are in the banking biz. I'd say that at two cents you overinvested this time. Could it be a natural tendency in that biz?

If we decided not to milk cows and lets include the goats too, several consequences would flow from that. No more cheese, whey, casein, etc. Really lousy pizza and other culinary losses too numerous for my head to envelop.

Most dairy calves are not used for veal. Many females are kept for milk production. About 90% of male dairy calves are fed to finish weight for their extra lean meat. Roughly, 18 months and some take up to several months longer. If that market did not exist they would be killed at birth. If we stop milking, none of them will ever be born.

The same would be true if we all stop eating meat. No more beef breeds. I wonder if our bovine friends would appreciate humanoids advocating their extinction everywhere except India. How long any animal lives is not quite as important as the continuation of their kind. Oh, and one day we are once again going to have a very important use for those dairy steers, as oxen.

What you eat is certainly your business, but to all vegans and vegetarians, you flatter yourselves if you think you are doing the cows any favors. Since humane treatment is so important to you, try offering a little thanks to the gods for the birth of autistic cattle expert Professor Temple Grandin.

jim burke said...

I have long been a reader of TAE, and have contributed several times, most recently by ordering your DVD. This and Mish are the two blogs I key into almost daily.

I have not until now commented (didn't seem necessary), until reading "our daily bread."

I should preface this by saying that my wife and I have built a paper adobe household with our own hands, and grow most of our own food using hand tools, recycling everything through our composting humanure system, thereby steadily improving our soil. As they say, "feed the soil, and the soil will feed you". We are in our fifties, but could each pass for 20 years younger.

Sorry for being a damp rag, but this reads like something written by someone who is sedentary. If you work hard and long, it doesn't matter that much what you eat, as long as you get a wide assortment of fresh, organic foods. If you grow it yourself, it will be fresh and nutritious.

And if you're growing it yourself, you grow what does best. In our case, root crops like potatoes, sunchokes, garlic and onions do great, as do certain greens like arugula, both annual and perennial. If you work hard, carbs are perfectly fine. If you sit, carbs are probably bad.

If you're living a life out of balance, then focusing on individual factors like getting enough Omega 3s, is almost as bad as what the doctors do with isolating specific ingredients in traditional meds to get the one ingredient that will allegedly do what they all do as a team.

If you eat whole foods and work hard raising them, the vast majority of people will be free of diabetes and other modern diseases. These are "modern" diseases because they affect people who are sedentary and eat wrong; ie, those who are "modern"

Ethical Pizza said...

I have respect for your financial expertise, and I wish you wouldn't have posted about this. I have been vegan for over a decade, and I have read a LOT about nutrition as well. I could write a long post, but in general, a wholesale dismissal of veganism is a ridiculously simplistic position and always leads me to believe that the speaker doesn't know much about veganism. If you would, you would not lump the "vegan diet" all in one and dismiss it in a wholesale fashion. There are many, many ways to be a vegan, and a wide assortment of plant based foods and menu plans out there. Are you really ready to dismiss all of them as "necessarily" unhealthy? You can't be serious. (And someone forgot to tell me, my wife, and all our vegan friends all of whom are thriving.)

Any dismissal of veganism, and especially utterances by former-vegans (for example the article you link to), that is based on feelings of "what my body wanted" but fails to disclose what foods / menus that person consumed before they gave up being a vegan, have to be treated suspiciously.

Lastly, any discussion of what's wrong with the SAD (Standard American Diet) that fails to discuss the unbelievably huge increase in the consumption of animal products in the last few decades, as something that is strongly indicated by scientific research to be one of the main culprits in the public's health decline (despite the very powerful animal industry's best effort to hide this), is hard for me to take seriously.

Eric Lilius said...

@ Scandia

'those are stunning numbers re Cdn bank draws on the Fed. I am rubbing my eyes. Is that billions or trillions?"

It's billions.

The charts are here http://tinyurl.com/2d856oh
and the Canadian banks are there. The amounts are in millions and thousand millions.

Fuser said...

Most kind, beautiful, and honorable uncle I.M. Nobody,


Yes, I am in the banking biz. There is nothing here for this born and bred war-socialist to do around here but play my way up a ladder I know how to climb.

We seem to have a disagreement as to whether it is best for a species to be bred eternally as a food source or to let the lineage die. I say best for the lineage to die. Would you create a child to be turned to Soylent Green at age 5?, or would you let yourself expire?

For a dairy cow to produce milk, it must first be pregnant. You get the most profit by turning that baby into veal and sucking the milk away. Once that milk production declines –is there much reason to keep feeding the cow?

“How long any animal lives is not quite as important as the continuation of their kind.” -I whole heartedly disagree with this … I guess that’s the point.

I. M. Nobody said...

Fuser,

Flattering me won't do the trick. Some do accuse of me of kindness and I try to be honorable. I make no claims at all about beauty and at my age it hardly matters.

Veal may well be profitable, but it's not a very big industry anymore. So, I guess it's not profitable to very many and I'm not in favor of it myself.

I am, however, glad that those brave dairy farmers do suck that milk. My first born had some kind of intolerance for formula and my wife couldn't breast feed her. If I hadn't insisted on giving her cows milk, I doubt she would have made it.

So, I agree to be disagreeable.

Eric Lilius said...

This was posted on the Globe and Mail website on December 1

Big Five tapped Fed for funds during financial crisis

http://tinyurl.com/27ma4mg

scandia said...

@IMN..I was getting desperate for word from Joe what will so many significant events these days.
" tasing the citizenry must be done...its a paycheck for somebody-usually the guy who sat behind us in grade school happily eating chalk."
Diet does matter! LOL

Fuser said...

I.M. Nobody,

I am glad things worked out for your first born. Really, I don’t like to get into dietary arguments and do not judge people on them. It happened to be the discussion of the day and I wanted to weigh in –at least a little.

Dietary arguments seem to take the same form as religious arguments. As most people know … it usually goes nowhere.

Dr J said...

RAP1 - there are a lot of false prophets out there. Some of them spin convincing tales. If it make sense to you, go for it but keep an eye on your markers of cardiometabolic risk.

I think it was Margaret Mead who said: "I'd sooner change a man's religion than his diet".

I. M. Nobody said...

scandia,

Yes, diet does matter and that line had me ROFL.

The money quip though was "What kind of community comes up with the idea of tasering its own children?"

You do have to wonder what those upstanding citizens were eating in grade school. I'm sure glad they weren't serving it in our cafeteria.

@ Fuser

I wonder if dietary discussions don't always go flaming because when faced with the choice of accepting that a change of diet might be beneficial or proving that the one you are on is the best, most people get busy on the proof. As I said before, I don't care what you eat, though I hope it isn't chalk. :)

Out here we kind of like our cows and we hope to keep them around as long as we ourselves can hold out. Which may not be all that long.

I. M. Nobody said...

For those that may not bother to read Brother Bageant's opus, here is another quote that absolutely applies to the topic at hand.

The information racketeers

It is the job of our combined institutions to manage cultural information so as to deny the harmful aspects of the rackets they protect through legislation and promote through institutional research. That's why research shows that cell phone microwaves cause long term memory loss in rats, but do not harm people. Evidently, we are of different, more bullet proof mammalian material.

Our hyper capitalist system, through command of our research, media and political institutions, expands upon and disseminates only that information which generates money and transactions. It avoids, neglects or spins the hell out of information that does not.

skilo said...

Hi Stoneleigh and Ilargi,

I really enjoy the blog. Keep the good posts and insight coming.

I have to chime in here because I'm passionate about my anti-inflammatory diet (excess fat loss is a nice side effect, but not the primary benefit of an optimal, anti-inflanmmatory diet – technically and inflammation balanced diet).

The key point I'd like to make is that diet is about human performance optimization - not simply weight loss. Losing weight isn't necessarily healthy. Maybe yes, maybe no – it depends of various factors. The two coworkers of mine who had heart attacks were thinner than the average American. Being lean does not necessarily equate to healthy. One need to have a balanced pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cellular response to achieve optimal health. The amazing thing is diet plays a huge role in achieving this goal.

I'm a bit familiar with the Atkins and I'd like to point out a few things that some don't know.

1.The Induction phase IS NOT the Atkins Diet even though the typical person associates it with the diet. The latest Atkins book wasn't nearly as negative on healthy carbs as his early books. Fruits and vegetables were consumed in moderate amounts in the Maintenance phase.
2.Carbs aren't bad! Stoneleigh, I cringed when you claimed that people don't need carbs. While technically true, one absolutely needs carbs to live well, in peak health and to attain peak performance. Yes, they lied to you when they said that fat was generally bad. Don't over react and claim that carbs are generally bad. Your brain runs on glucose (blood sugar) and your body can get it the easy way (via a healthy, balanced diet that includes good carbs) or the hard way (excrete excess cortisol, throw your body into hormonal h*ll and eventually increase the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid hormones). The easy way is so much better!
3.I cringe when bacon is put forth as resembling a good dietary component. It isn't! I'm not saying one can't lose weight eating bacon. I am saying that eating lots of bacon will NOT optimize your health and wellness – and Stoneleigh, you shouldn't be touting eating bacon regularly with a healthy lifestyle. Remember, all weight loss isn't the same. When I effortlessly lost 25 lbs in about 7 months, I actually looked healthier instead of ragged like so many others who lose weight. Eating high quality lean meat or another high quality lean protein source is much better than eating bacon. Atkin's is simply wrong here. The type of fat you consume does matter and excessive bacon fat doesn't yield peak health, wellness and performance.
4.Egg yolks aren't typically good for people. They contain arachidonic acid which is the substrate for pro-inflammatory eicosanoids (a type of hormone). In short, egg yolks increase cellular inflammation – and this is bad when added to the typical inflammatory diet.

Cont'd...

team10tim said...

Choosing your battles

Stoneleigh, with great respect, I must dissent. Regardless of the veracity and accuracy of your dietary advice this campaign is counter productive. You are already engaged in one and a half losing battles of noble purpose and dubious prospects.

To be clear, your take on the financial crisis is likely correct but deeply unpopular (one losing battle) The same holds for peak oil but it is addressed with less vigor (half losing battle) Entering a third realm of contention is ill advised.

For the record I believe that you are correct on all three accounts. But spreading yourself too thin comes at a cost. Some will follow you on blind conviction and some on well reasoned understanding and informed analysis but many will turn away on knee-jerk reactions. You haven't the resources sufficient for a single war much less three.

There is a trade off between vindication in posterity and efficacy in the present. TAE is a marginal and prescient resource. Given those constraints what is the best way to proceed?

anon10 said...

Western political elites obfuscate, lie and bluster – and when the veil of secrecy is lifted, they try to kill the messenger

Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It's your choice

ben said...

i'm disappointed, too, about the dvd-rom situation. nice work katherine. unauthorized! i want one. two. might it by any chance take less than ten minutes now you've done it once?

nice work nassim!

any calorie restriction people here? opinions, dr. j?

An Eaarthly Planner said...

Apropos of nothing (but a comment here reminded me), I used to know a guy who came to work every day dressed in full-on cyclist get-up (tights, shoes, hat, everything). A friend of mine knew this fellow better and commented to me, once: "that guy is my hero. He had a heart attack and quadruple-bypass surgery, then he changed his whole life. Now he eats better and exercises and is in perfect health."

I immediately responded "wouldn't he have been more of a hero had he recognized the road he was one and changed his lifestyle before almost dying?"

I think that about sums up our situation as a global "civilization" (I used the word advisedly). We only canonize those who first hit the wall, not those who see it coming and shout the warnings.

An Eaarthly Planner said...

Also apropos of nothing, has anyone else seen this video making the rounds -- "200 Years in Four Minutes"? I confess to finding it so irritating I've actually engaged in a mini-debate on YouTube, which is almost always a mistake.

Here's my revised narrative (if I had the time, I'd dub this over the original audio):

"What we're seeing here is a case of diminishing returns. For an 1100% increase in per capita income, we get a mere 1-10% increase in life expectancy. Is it worth it? Given that, to achieve this slightly higher life expectancy, we must undermine the Earth's life support systems for all species, including us?"

What you see in this video is a prime example of lying with statistics. The method? Plotting the data against a logarithmic scale on the x-axis, but not bothering to mention that fact out loud. What the graphic actually shows is an excellent case for reducing incomes in the world's wealthiest nations to 1/10th their present levels, combined with a radical change in the social order (so as to maintain quality of life). This will enable the world's poorest nations to increase THEIR incomes 10 times, thus raising their quality of life to equality -- all for a net decrease in aggregate human impact on planet Earth.

el gallinazo said...

I won't be able to read the 150 comments (and counting) until I get back to my (off the net) house, so this may have been covered. But speaking as an only vaguely techie Mac guy, converting a computer only DVD to one that will work on a conventional TV is really quite trivial.

Loveandlight said...

@Draft: Despite the flaws of The Vegetarian Myth (owing mainly to the unfortunate fact that Lierre Keith relies way too heavily on websites and popular periodicals for her sources; you know what they say about an education from "Google U."), I still think it's a worthwhile read. The experiences of those who haven't thrived on a vegan diet should be heard, and I appreciate her advocacy of a counter-myth to the ones advocating by the Diet For A New America vegangelical crowd.

That said, it's really a shame that the author didn't do a better of job of presenting her case. Nutrition and appropriate diet are a very important set of issues, and I think she did her readers a disservice by presenting so much bad information alongside the good information. I did also come away with the impression that she is as subjective and one-sided in her "anti-veganism" (for lack of a better term) as she was in her veganism. Another major flaw in the book is that she could have told us more about what sort of diet she ate as a vegan, though she gave us a clue in mentioning the ubiquity of brown rice, lentils, and peanuts in many vegan diets.

Andrew said...

And there it is - another reason it's not safe to use cash. Keep your plastic handy, folks. There's bad chemicals in your dollar bills! Interestingly, they claim the chemical is rubbing off of receipts that come in contact with bills, but the problem is the bills having trace amounts of the chemical, not the receipts being laden with them. Hmm.

(Brought to you by CNN like no one else can.)

http://tinyurl.com/26us37v

scandia said...

There is a story in to-day's Globe and Mail about Professor Flanagan. He has now threatened a woman in Toronto via e-mail, "Better be careful.,we know where you live."
Yikes! Does he also know where I live as I have been sending e-mail to the PM and my MP and my friend network.
One can't help but wonder why Mr. Flanagan is above the law. Does he have an insurance policy, leaks of his own, about the PM and the Conservative Party. Enough that the University of Calgary has kept him on staff as well without censure.
I sent another e-mail to my MP and the PM first thing this morning. I hope other Cdns on the board will follow suit. I have a burning curiosity to know who is protecting Professor Flanagan and to what end.

Ahimsa said...

"Support WikiLeaks and Defend Julian Assange"

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Support-WikiLeaks-and-Defe-by-Dave-Lindorff-101207-722.html

Ahimsa said...

Fuser,

Thank you for standing up for our fellow Earthlings!

Do no harm!

Paz!

Shamba said...

@Estimable IMNobody,

I'm truly sorry to hear about your myasthenia gravis. May you be able to keep it at bay for a long time yet!

@ Stoneleigh, if your diet is working for you, and it obviously is with your weight loss, good for you.

This is a very interesting discussion here.

peace, Shamba

Dr J said...

@ Ruben - it is hard to get a fix on how prevalent is insulin resistance. There was a study a few years that determined that 25% of the Canadian adult population had metabolic syndrome. That rate would be higher now. Also, insulin resistance would begin in advance of metabolic syndrome but, by how much, is up for debate. I would hazard a guess that perhaps 40%-45% of the adult population is at some stage of insulin resistance.

BTW - I lost that little business card you gave me. Actually, my wife didn't realize what it was and tossed it in one of her fits of tidying my stuff.

I. M. Nobody said...

scandia,

That your professor is above the law shows where his protection comes from, TPTB. Now that JHK's Long Emergency is emerging, the gloves are coming off. In Usanistan and I will presume it's Northern Protectorate, Canuckistan, plutocrats and their trusty servants, the oligarchs and useful idiots are all above the law. For the most part, the law only applies to the peasants and peons now.

I admire your grit. Clearly you are a Fightin Finn. If I am right, I think you might be well advised to stop poking the grizzly bears. They don't like it.

Dr J said...

@ Eliza - I don't know a lot about coconut water. I gather it is about 2% sugar unless it has coconut pulp added, in which case it would have a higher sugar content and would be referred to as coconut milk. As a general rule, with the exception of stevia, if something natural tastes sweet it is because it contains fructose. Of the simple sugars, fructose packs by far the greatest sweetness punch. A good example is agave syrup which is popular because it is "natural" but which, in fact, contains a lot of fructose. This is also why high fructose corn syrup has more fructose than regular sugar, so that you get more sweetness per pound.

Stoneleigh said...

I want to thank all the people who have added such fascinating commentary and references to this thread today. This is the internet at its best.

As I say at the end of all my emails, ancora imparo :)

scandia said...

@Stoneleigh, " ancora imparo"..
A wonderful phrase! I am going to copy you and use it as my sign off as well. Hope you don't mind?
Would be an excellent motto for that true university we all dream about.

Stoneleigh said...

Scandia,

There is nothing better we could say than a committment to la lifetime of learning. No matter what we know, there is more to be learned :)

ghpacific said...

Sorry if this has already been addressed, but does anyone know how effective the gastric bypass or lap-band surgery is at curing type 2 diabetes? I remember this amazing story http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/17/60minutes/main4023451.shtml and now that the weight limit is being reduced to qualify for the procedure I may want to consider it.

ben said...

oh, good to hear, LG - the ease of conversion. (go figure.) thanks for the reassurance. scratch that request, katherine. (eek.) :o

zander said...

More good Maloney, but for some unfathomable reason, he is convinced PM's will(singularly it seems)escape the brutal crush of deflation, yet acknowledges the huge credit contraction affecting other asset classes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=419aPXb7Uhg&feature=player_embedded#!

Z.

Dr J said...

@ ghpacific - there have been reports that type 2 diabetes reverses almost miraculously after gastric bypass. There is speculation that there is something about the anatomical changes that drive this. I have a bariatric surgeon friend who tells me that the post-bypass diet is very low in carbohydrates which leads me to think that this is the actual cause. I know from lots of experience that people who follow a very low carb diet, and actually comply with it, get the same results. For an example of what a post surgery diet looks like go to:

Dr J said...

opps - here is the url for the post surgery diet:

http://www.gicare.com/diets/gastric-bypass.aspx

As you can appreciate, I would recommend doing the diet without the cost, disfigurement and risk of the surgery. Currently, the best diet resource available is the new Atkins book written by Westman, Phinney and Volek. Someone like you would stick to the induction phase indefinitely.

p01 said...

Excellent video explaining the HUGE variations in insulin sensitivity among humans:
http://vimeo.com/10705698

Inquiring minds might want to see the other parts too.
Judgmental minds might want to reconsider their gluttony&sloth positions.

Regards,
Paul

Ruben said...

Hey Dr. J.

It is good to see you back on the board. I am at rubenanderson telus net

Gravity said...

When I used the searchterm 'bloodtype metabolism', lots of (dis)info showed up, pseudoscientific, far too generalised or specific, different dietary prescriptions for various bloodtypes. Apparently, people have been prescribing diets based solely on bloodtype for some time, aided by various myths, O-type people generally being 'meat-eaters' and such nonsense.

But still, there might just be some detectable but largely irrelevant residual correlation between some bloodgroups and metabolic (dys)functioning under certain dietary conditions, but nothing that would be immediately helpful.

I did enjoy the insights and discussions here, have mostly avoided meat myself, not my thing, but I do like fish. My diet is mostly carbs, sometimes I'll eat something sugary sweet and feel physically repulsed by the thought of eating more sweetness, just can't handle more, maybe metabolic syndrome?

Mike said...

After personaly trying differnt "diets" over the past 12 years, I've found that eating a grain/carb/sugar free diet combined with adequate amounts of fat, protein and green veggies has worked the best for me. Very stable blood sugars and A1C of 4.8.

Also my friend was able to reverse her symptoms of Type II diabetes (fasting BS of 140 and A1C of 9 WHILE consuming 4 different diabetes medications!).

We are NEVER going back to eating all that whole grain crap/low fat crap. No Way!

And yes the human body is not a calorimeter. All calories are NOT created equal!

Gravity said...

That should be (mis)info, when its not purposefully misleading.

While we're on the subject, isn't it so, that when the government actually does threaten and intimidate students with a (permanent) loss of government job prospects if they dare to read or disseminate the classified diplomatic cables offered via wikileaks, it would be political persecution, and moreover a policy of (inciting) discrimination by the government on the basis of political ideology or affiliation? That's quite illegal, surely.

tycho said...

@ RAP1

your contention that "...there is no single piece of evidence the world over that suggests that unrefined carbohydrates consumed by human beings over the past 10,000 years has anything to do with causing insulin resistance."
is NOT borne out by the single greatest repository of actual evidence we can examine - the mummified remains of ancient Egyptians.

The papyrus record indicated that the diet of ancient Egyptians consisted primarily of unrefined carbohydrates, so much so that the ancient Greeks referred to the Egyptian soldiers as "artophagoi" or "the bread eaters". The rest of their diet - again according to the written history the Egyptians themselves recorded, (which goes into great detail about all aspects of life along the Nile in Dynastic times) - consisted of cereal grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, some fish and poultry, almost no red meat, olive oil instead of lard, and goats milk for drinking and to make into cheese. Sounds like a modern prescription for optimal health, does it not? And yet paleopathologists examining these mummified remains find a society (mummification was practiced across all social strata), that were overweight, with poor teeth and brittle bones, and with arteries choked with greasy cholesterol-laden deposits that were often calcified exhibiting advanced stages of atherosclerotic disease!

Think this is somehow unique to the ancient Egyptian society? It is in fact a common story whenever man has turned from the traditional "prehistoric" diet to an agrarian (grain-based) one. So much so that archaeologists consider this health disparity so predictable that when they unearth the skeletal remains of a prehistoric society they can classify them as hunter-gatherers or agriculturists by the state of the bones and teeth. Strong bones and no teeth decay = hunters, brittle bones and decayed teeth = farmers.

@ Ethical Pizza

the idea that the ill-effects of the Standard American Diet are due to the "...unbelievably huge increase in the consumption of animal products in the last few decades." flies in the face of all logic. Most experts agree that game-hunting was the primary means of sustenance for our ancestors 700,000 years ago. From that time until the birth of agriculture (8,000 - 10,000 years ago) mankind lived on a diet comprised primarily of meat in one form or another (60%-90% of caloric intake. This is a FAR greater proportion than anything seen in the last few decades, decades marked by the demonization of red meat and saturated fat. Does it not make more sense to point to the huge increase in the consumption of processed food (composed primarily of carbohydrates) as a result of the low-fat craze?

Despite our big brains, we ARE animals, animals that evolved to eat a diet based on what was available. The fact that we have since used our big brains to supplant this "natural" diet with products that we can grow, harvest and process for the convenience of our society - does NOT make them good for us!

Hombre said...

Since the board is discussing diet abd food, a good audio on transition to local food, I found on Energy Bulletin. (if posted earlier-excuse)

http://tinyurl.com/2d6xsfb

Dr J said...

Gary Taubes has launched a blog: www.garytaubes.com

He also has a new book due out in December; basically a lighter version of Good Calories, Bad Calories.

Chris said...

This is a great discussion!

I realize this is pretty basic in terms of what has been discussed here, but our family has adopted Micheal Pollan's advice ...

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

We've cut down on processed foods, and try to make a lot of what we eat. We have noticed a big difference in our health.

A Fall Guy said...

I want to add to my comment that we need to distinguish between a diet to rehabilitate from industrial food vs. a diet that is sustainable and resilient.

Consider our context of economic collapse combined with collapse of energy, fisheries, biological diversity, not to mention climate. Add to that population over-shoot.

Even if the paleo-human diet was healthier, a large-scale return to a hunter/gather society is impossible (a vastly larger population combined with depleted landscapes). A diet based primarily on raised meat has a much larger ecological footprint than one based on grain as it is higher up the food chain.

I absolutely support people to follow the most suitable diet to get in better shape and recover from industrial food. Get rehabilitated in preparation for the hardships ahead. But I personally am trying to move towards a diet that is local, resilient and sustainable. A high meat diet for all would mean that our global population over-shoot is even more dire.

I am not disputing any of the very good information on human metabolism, evolution, etc. This discussion thread has been one of the most varied and interesting I've seen on TAE. I just want to be realistic about the future.

Ahimsa said...

John Lennon - (Dec. 8, 1980)

Happy Christmas (War is Over)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvNRHrKyaX4&feature=related

Nassim said...

The papyrus record indicated that the diet of ancient Egyptians consisted primarily of unrefined carbohydrates, so much so that the ancient Greeks referred to the Egyptian soldiers as "artophagoi" or "the bread eaters". The rest of their diet - again according to the written history the Egyptians themselves recorded, (which goes into great detail about all aspects of life along the Nile in Dynastic times) - consisted of cereal grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, some fish and poultry, almost no red meat, olive oil instead of lard, and goats milk for drinking and to make into cheese. Sounds like a modern prescription for optimal health, does it not?

I had a friend who is an Egyptian consultant anaesthetist who practises in the UK. He is obese. Both his parents suffer from type 2 diabetes. He only has a very strong black coffee for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and a large meal before going to bed. He works very long hours and is on his feet for much of the day. His job is one of the most stressful imaginable as a moment of inattention can lead to a patient's death. Surgeons are constantly proposing complex procedures and only ask the anaesthetist for an opinion quite late on. When he refuses to go ahead with an operation for a particular patient as it is borderline with modern anaesthesiology, some surgeons lose their cool and an argument ensues. Surgeons tend to think that they are God's representatives on Earth. Anyway, I gave him a copy of "Good Calories Bad Calories" last Christmas and he was most upset. In fact, he did not speak to me for a while as he felt insulted. I am putting forward this tale as a warning to Stoneleigh :)

If you are interested in Middle Eastern cuisine, I would strongly recommend Persian / Turkish / Georgian / Armenian over Egyptian. The big difference is in the protein content.

I. M. Nobody said...

A Fall Guy said...

But I personally am trying to move towards a diet that is local, resilient and sustainable. A high meat diet for all would mean that our global population over-shoot is even more dire.

I am not disputing any of the very good information on human metabolism, evolution, etc. This discussion thread has been one of the most varied and interesting I've seen on TAE. I just want to be realistic about the future.

Future reality is very likely to be not quite what you seem to imagine. Even in periods of relative climate stability, local food production, especially grains, has always been periodically unreliable. As the runaway greenhouse gas emissions steadily increase planetary climate distortion, grain farming could even become economically infeasible.

The corn crop in this area on many farms was about 50% of average yields, due to a wet summer. I'm confidant this won't be the worst year we see going forward. When the weather gets really weird, livestock are going to look a lot more attractive than grain. They can tolerate some pretty bad weather. Forage crops are also more tolerant and varied than grains. Stock husbandry requires much less mechanization and fuel than grains. It's more labor intensive, which is good in the light of anticipated future employment problems.

Livestock can also be raised in places where grain farming is not practical. Empty lots in Detroit could be fenced and used to raise livestock for the neighborhood on hay brought in from just outside the city. We could raise a lot more cattle if people get hungry enough to eat grass-fed beef. And then it would not be quite as necessary to slaughter them as soon as possible. They could more economically be allowed to keep grazing until demand caught up with supply.

That can't happen overnight, but it is probably what the future will force upon us. It is Gaia that determines our overshootedness and Gaia will ultimately decide what the future population limit will be. It could well be zero.

p01 said...

Re: concerns about sustainability
Having lived my first 30 years of life in an Eastern European country I can assure you that quasi-sustainable-quasi-paleo nutrition can be achieved ( I firmly believe that agriculture itself is not sustainable, but that’s another longer-term story). It's not going to be easy, but I've witnessed it in periods of great energy shortage and general poverty (by here standards). A hard working village family can raise enough livestock and vegetables to feed itself and have surplus. It is hard work, but it can be done on an energy income. And if you’re not physically strong to begin, you have zero chances of achieving this. Then again if it’s all going “The Road” Way, maybe it’s not worth discussing after all.
Lowering the food standards (encouraging consumption of cheaper calories) only increases the population and its burden on itself (sickness) and on the environment. Community would work best. In my case everybody I know and trust is in “cloud cuckoo land” and will wake up too late or never.
Regards,
Paul

A Fall Guy said...

@ I. M. Nobody

Future reality is very likely to be not quite what you seem to imagine.

In all due respect, future reality is very unlikely to be what any of us imagine.

I didn't say I imagine an easy ride. I did say we can expect collapse and instability of many systems, including climate. Nor did I say we shouldn't raise livestock. In fact, I have sheep as well as a large garden, an orchard that is being transformed into a forest garden, and a modest size area to grow some hay and small-scale grain.

The focus of my comment was about resilience and sustainability. One key element of resilience is redundancy (e.g. more fruit trees of different kinds than you need in a good year, so you have enough in a bad year). A diversity of crops, since production may become unreliable.

One key element of sustainability is the likelihood of being able to produce food over a long time without losing soil, relying on large imports (of fossil fuel, fertilizer, whatever) or overly impacting neighbouring natural areas (e.g. taking all the litter from your woodlot may deplete soil there over time). Reducing outputs from the system requires composting everything (and I mean everything...).

A resilient, sustainable diet can certainly include meat, but in small quantities. Grass-fed cattle won't be produced in the quantities of grain-fed factory farms.

For example, chickens will likely play a large role, especially in urban areas. Suppose you want to mainly rely on chicken for meat. Can you produce a few hundred a year to eat chicken every day? A more sustainable option is to have chickens for eggs and the occasional roast chicken dinner.

I. M. Nobody said...

A Fall Guy,

Your latest comment is much more elaborated than the first. I see you do have a pretty good measure of the likely futures. Mention of factory farms is a red herring though. They will have no place in an energy starved future. Yet another bad investment.

Paul's portrait of hardy villagers raising stock and vegetables will have to be the way it is done. With grain fields sown to forage grasses lots of grass-fed beef could be raised. It does take longer, but that will at least partly please Fuser. Citizens of the future will not be in nearly as big a hurry anyway.

A Fall Guy said...

@ I. M. Nobody

Mention of factory farms is a red herring though

Perhaps I wasn't clear, but I wasn't advocating factory farms. Far from it - they produce meat at huge environmental and energetic costs (not to mention animal suffering). They may be one of the first casualties when industrial ag collapses.

You said: Paul's portrait of hardy villagers raising stock and vegetables will have to be the way it is done. With grain fields sown to forage grasses lots of grass-fed beef could be raised.

I agree completely, with the exception that "lots" should be changed to "some". To raise a grass-fed cow takes several acres of pasture on tillable land (and more on marginal pasture).

FYI Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms has quite a few interesting ideas. He calls himself a "grass farmer" because he rotates animals to maximize beneficial synergies.

Hombre said...

Tycho - A very interesting post, including some of my recent (ever-changing) thoughts on diet--with an honest historical perspective.
Sometimes what we learn or discover about ourselves is not what we were looking for.

An Eaarthly Planner said...

@tycho said:

the idea that the ill-effects of the Standard American Diet are due to the "...unbelievably huge increase in the consumption of animal products in the last few decades." flies in the face of all logic

That is a rather bold statement, especially since many many doctors have pointed to the correlation between the consumption of obscene amounts of meat and heart disease, hypertension, and premature death (among other things).

(The second article linked to above is particularly interesting; quoting from the abstract: The ... prevalence of ... hypertension was significantly different between the four diet groups, ranging from 15.0% in male meat eaters to 5.8% in male vegans....)

You follow that up with

Most experts agree that game-hunting was the primary means of sustenance for our ancestors 700,000 years ago.

And there's your logical fallacy. Whether or not that's true (debatable), someone taking that position would at least have to acknowledge the totally un-sedentary nature of the lifestyle of such paleo-humans. They were active, not chair-sitters (like us). Plus, I have a lot of doubt that many survived past age 40, which makes it difficult to judge the long-term health effects of such a diet in such a time.

p01 said...

How it was usually done:
Hogs for meat and fat: stored as sausages, smoked chunks. Almost all village families would have one. Chickens and ducks/geese for eggs and the occasional soup+roast. Richer families would have a cow for milk whose calories are stored as cheese usually. Sun-dried vegetables and tobacco. A grapevine grown areund the house usually would be stored as dried grapes and wine/eau de vie.

Regards,
Paul

Wombat Crossing said...

p01, thanks for posting the link to the China Study critique. I've had my suspicions about this study myself based on my limited education in science and nutrition.

*Humans have evolved an enzyme for digesting elastin, a substance found only in animals.
*Human nutritional needs are difficult to satisfy without some meat.
*Human dentition is adapted for eating meat.
*Some cultures, such as the Inuit, have a traditional diet that consists of 98% meat and suffer from virtually no heart disease or cancer.
*The most closely related species to humans, chimps, regularly eat insects, small mammals and reptiles in addition to plants.

Additionally, I don't think the answer is as simple as meat or no meat. As my wife advises, "If you're going to animals, make sure they were happy animals."

The typical hamburger, chicken, etc. that you find at the grocery store is an abomination. I noticed that the labels on the hamburger list the ingredients as not just hamburger, but also fat, bone, and "other flavors." In otherwords, they have to add hamburger flavor to hamburger to make it taste like hamburger. That ain't right.

Buy locally produced meat where the animals have been fed what they were intended to eat and only rarely treated with antibiotics for the occasional infection, not automatically as a prophylactic to keep the animals alive because their diet is killing them.

bluebird said...

When the tipping point comes. I think most people will be shocked and bewildered such as happens in any major disaster, be it a hurricane, blizzard, tornado, flood. But most people generally pitch in and help everyone else, at least at first. It's just that all this discussion about healthy eating, farming, resiliency, what difference is it going to make when reality sets in for everyone. As Paul says, most people are in "cloud cuckoo land".

I can be somewhat prepared to help family and friends, but there is not going to be enough food to feed all these cuckoos, healthy or not. Choices are going to be limited, and many people are not going to be able to survive. It's very troubling.

Dan said...

@ Bluebird and Stoneleigh

Hi.

2 thoughts:

1. There are all manner of localvore food movements in Vermont and New Hampshire. There is a lot of energy being put into sustaining a healthy, available food supply.

http://uvlocalvore.com/

2. Stoneleigh, you mentioned the addictive nature of refined sugars. No doubt. I would take the issue a step farther and say that we are addicted to being addicted...we are addicted to addictive states-of-mind. Greed is the most addictive state of mind, IMO. As such, making the move to smaller, off-grid, etc. is viewed by many as "giving up" or as somehow a negative choice. In my most reflective moments, viewing the addictive nature of MY greed is quite illuminating.

I. M. Nobody said...

bluebird,

The video that p01 linked earlier referenced a more complete set of videos of the interview of Dr. Connelly. I eventually found them.

He points out that humans can survive for quite long periods on very little food. He speaks of a concentration camp survivor he knew that had lived through four years in a camp and survived emaciation. Yes, that is still a very ugly reality, but it does imply that the die-off doesn't have to be all at once. It may imply that lots of people will have to go to concentration camps. Another unpleasant thought.

Here is a link to the page that has links to Dr. Connelly's full talk. Dr. Connelly on Insulin Sensitivity - Full Interview in 3 parts

logout said...

Dr. J youR mention of Hyponatremia made me go to Wiki for this:

"Normal serum sodium levels are between 135-145 mEq/L. Hyponatremia is defined as a serum level of less than 135 mEq/L and is considered severe when the serum level is below 125 mEq/L.[1]"

What I have often wondered about is how are these figures for NORMAL sodium established? Is this reached by some sort of averaging of current population sodium levels or are there other methods of arriving at these figures?

The reason I ask is that for years I had very variable blood pressure on the high side. I cut my sodium intake about 15 years ago and have had no problem since then, (BP runs 120-130 over 65-70) but my sodium levels have been described by my GP as low (not seriously, but low).

How I use salt is the reverse of what is commonly called for on TV.
That is instead of getting rid of the salt shaker I keep that on the table and use no foods with added salt. That means no canned or junk type food. I do cheat occasional with bacon but only very occasionally:)

I find it amazing the amount of salt that is in what might be called a NORMAL diet and that makes me wonder about those NORMAL sodium levels.

bluebird said...

I M Nobody - Basically that is what I am referring to, that the amount and choice of food can be very limited. Sometimes all this discussion about eating healthy, farming, carbs vs fat, vegan vs meat, etc. etc., it really doesn't make much difference when that time comes, because people will eat whatever is there, healthy food or not, meat or veggie, or not. The food may not be their preferred choice, but to survive, something will be eaten.

Eric Lilius said...

You can read about Joel Salatin,his grass based agriculture and his wonderfully radical ideas about food production in Michael Pollan's Omnivor's Dilemma. Joel is currently on a speaking tour in Australia. ABC has a video available of a very recent talk he gave on the politics of food.
http://tinyurl.com/29gybcx

zander said...

@ IMN 10.49.

FWIW, all the oldies I know who are healthy and xtra long lived have two common factors, they lived through periods of extreme food shortage, even malnutrition lite, and worked physically.
To a person, they still eat little today, but eat all sorts minus junk food, or lots of it. I'm going with them myself, my eyes don't lie and one could debate diet forever and a day.
The CRON diet looks good to me, if I followed one that is. I'm a ten+ stone neither up nor down lucky bastard weight-wise :) My UC is a bugger though
:(

Z.

zander said...

@ Bluebird 11.17.

Indeed.

Z.

Ruben said...

@Dan,


This paper suggests addiction is the result of dislocation.

The topic of this paper is drug addiction, but I spoke to the author and he feels consumerism is the same mechanism. That is discussed in a book, though I am not sure when it was/will be published.

Ilargi said...

News post up.



War is the Health of the State



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