Who Should Be Giving Thanks This Thanksgiving?

Not the wider public.

Our financial system is broken. Our political system is broken. Oligarchs and their cronies reap easy rewards — bailouts, crony capitalism, corporate handouts, liquidity injections, favourable “regulation” (that puts oligarchs’ competition out of a business) — while taxpayers pay the bill.

But no such thing lasts forever.

Thanksgiving is very much the day of the black swan. Nassim Taleb used the example of a turkey fattened up for Thanksgiving as an example of a black swan phenomenon. The turkey sees itself being fed every day by the turkey farmer and assumes based on past behaviour that this will continued indefinitely until the day comes when the farmer kills the turkey. Nothing in the turkey’s limited experiential dataset suggested such an event.

But Thanksgiving also commemorates the end of pre-Columbian America, a huge earth-shattering black swan for the people of the Americas. The day before the first European immigrants landed in North America, very little in the Native Americans’ dataset suggested what was to come.

In a globalised and hyper-connected world, drastic systemic change can occur faster than ever before.

All it takes is the first spark.

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14 thoughts on “Who Should Be Giving Thanks This Thanksgiving?

  1. Aziz, I am an avid reader of your blog and most of your insights are smart and well articulated. Recently though you have gone a bit into the deep end where conspiracy bullshit is waiting. Please take a vacation or something because now it’s just rambling.

    Same with your comment section. Before some responses were insightful but now you seem to cater to the wrong audience of zerohedge. I am not going to invest everything in guns and gold and move to the middle of nowhere to wait for the inevitable split of the union and you shouldn’t either.

    • I don’t think I am advising anyone to invest in gold or guns (although I do think storing food and water and backup power is generally a good idea — see Hurricane Sandy, and gold and guns have certainly gone up in price in real terms in recent years).

      I am predominantly a theorist of fragility. When I see fragilities, I talk about them. The current economic and political reality of oligarchy and cronyism is dysfunctional and fragile. It’s not a “conspiracy”. The oligarchy and cronyism of which I speak just an opportunistic mess perpetuated a mixture of well-intentioned delusion as well as greed, selfishness (see my post yesterday for the epitome of this — http://azizonomics.com/2012/11/21/george-osborne-big-banks/)

      Students of fragility, metastasis and emergent phenomena like myself readily note that fragile and dysfunctional things are prone to break, though.

      • As a student of “fragility, metastasis and emergent phenomena,” you should readily note that as technology advances, the need for complex social organisations also increases, and vice versa. You should also note that, given that an increase in complexity we are also faced with increases in the potential jarring impact of disruptive “black swans” to the “stability” of the complex system, and you should also note that so long as society and technology continue on their course toward ever greater technical achievement, the potential repercussions will continue to become more devastating to humanity and life in general. “Talking about” fragilities without recognizing their underlying cause does little to advance any movement toward changing the fundamentals that have engendered the f’d up system we have today. What do you propose we do when our system “breaks?” Rebuild it? Perhaps with a little more “equality?” Get the factories up and running again? Maybe with gold as money rather than credit? Yeah, that will work out just fine.

    • Razor, your emotions cut deep, but your ideas are dull and impenetrable.

      Don’t worry so much about other people as you are only putting your own fears on display.

    • Fair point, but if I found the conspiracy pages back in 2000 I would have been freaked out and bought Gold.. And be well ahead.

      Now the system is more bizarre than ever so I would say things definately will get worse before they get better.

      I assume their is going to be no resolved partisan issues before January so i am betting on a fiscal collapse. Most Corporations won’t be investing before then either, so look out for negative GDP reports.

      I am still betting the Yuan will become the Global Reserve Currency. If the Politicians in the USA can’t resolve, then China has to come to the rescue.

      AUD is still very strong so it suggests many people are nervous.

      I for one always stock up on non food goods , things you can;t grow, like stuff in the non grocery section (Batteries, soap, cleaning products, etc etc) They never deteriorate and it is always prudent, especially with such an inter connected world.

  2. Yeah, a globalised and hyper-connected world wherein “drastic systemic change can occur faster than ever before” sounds like a real good idea. On with progress of the techno-industrial system!

  3. Decentralisation? Gee, I can’t wait until everyone has the capability to produce biological weapons in his own home. Good thinking.

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