Skip to comments.5 Black Swans That Could Obliterate America's Future
Posted on 02/21/2012 5:11:24 AM PST by Kaslin
Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a fantastic book on the impact of large, high impact, statistically rare events called The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. According to Taleb, history tends to swing much more than we realize on these theoretically foreseeable, but often unexpected large events as opposed to the much more predictable trajectory that we tend to forecast when we look ahead to the future.
Technically, Taleb would probably classify the events we're about to discuss as "grey swans," unlikely events that we should still be able to anticipate, but that's splitting hairs. Long story short, we should be aware that our world can change for the worse in a hurry and we should make sure we're taking steps to alleviate the danger.
Default on the Debt: This is, far and away, the scariest option on the list because all we have to do to ensure that it occurs is maintain the status quo for the next 10-15 years -- if that long. Congressman Mike Pence says we may only be a decade away from a default and Senator Tom Coburn thinks we may be less than 5 years away. By 2020, it'll take 19% of the world's GDP just to finance our debt and by 2030 it'll take 36% of all our tax revenue just to pay the interest on the debt. When people call our spending "unsustainable," that's not hyperbole. What happens if America goes bankrupt and defaults? A Depression would begin, your life savings could become worthless overnight, your taxes would explode, your standard of living would plunge, violence and instability would break out, and payments from the government could dramatically drop or stop altogether.
Demographic Assimilation: "According to a 2002 Zogby poll, 58% of Mexicans said that the ‘territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.'" Mexico, being a bad neighbor, actively encourages both illegal aliens and Mexican-Americans to have their first loyalty to Mexico. This hasn't been a big issue thus far, but we still have porous borders and there's a genuine danger that Mexico could become a failed state. What if the worst happens and we go from 10-12 million illegals in the United States to 25-40 million packed into the southwestern United States in a relatively short period of time? Demographics are destiny, which is something we taught both Mexico and the Indians the hard way, which is why it's so ironic that we think that same lesson couldn’t ever apply to us.
EMP: There haven't been any high altitude nuclear explosions since 1962; so it's hard to definitively know exactly how much damage a nuke exploding over the center of the United States would cause. A Solar Storm, which could theoretically produce almost the same effect, is even more of an unknown. However, it's entirely possible that a single nuclear bomb or Solar Storm could fry enough electronics to send us all the way back to the Dark Ages in the space of a few heartbeats. Airplanes would drop from the sky, the power grid would go down long term, the Internet would go offline, and nearly all the electronics, computer circuitry, and automobiles people rely on would stop functioning. Millions would die in a few months’ time, economic activity would grind to a halt, and people all across America would get to experience the old school "Oregon Trail" video game in real time.
Nuclear Weapons: There's always a chance that some dictator or religious nut could launch a nuclear weapon at us, but as nukes proliferate to more unstable nations, the chances of terrorists or hostile intelligence agencies sneaking those weapons into the United States will increase dramatically. This will especially be true if Iran gets nukes, because that would undoubtedly inspire Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt among other nations to also acquire nuclear weapons.
Imagine nuclear weapons going off in LA, DC, NYC, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia all in the same day. Millions would be killed, tens of millions would be displaced, it would cost tens of trillions, those cities could be unusable for decades, and it's entirely possible we would likely have NO IDEA who is behind it at first. That would seem to make our porous borders into a high priority problem although you certainly wouldn’t realize it from the lackadaisical approach the Bush and Obama administrations have taken to securing the border.
Biological Weapons: The Black Death killed somewhere between 30%-60% of the population in Europe, smallpox killed roughly 300 million people in the 20th century, and less than a hundred years ago, the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 50-100 million people. Now consider that there are roughly 20 nations that are believed to have biological weapon programs including Iran, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and North Korea. Put together hostile and/or unstable regimes with access to weaponized biological agents with terrorists (or even environmental extremists who believe the planet is overpopulated) and you have the potential for tens of millions of deaths, nationwide disruptions, and panic that could last for months or even years.
True. We'll hyper-inflate our way out of it.
See also, Weimar Republic...
I don't just laugh off stupidity anymore.
People that are dependent on the govt will believe anything, and if the govt. isn't there to take care of them they will be dangerous.
the tea party movement was a black swan.
Prediction implies control.
The internet coupling with the tea party is a black swan because the kleptocrats could not control the situation.”
I agree, but would argue that prediction only implies perception.
Perception is an ability in our species that runs the full gamut of expression. From the savant to the savage the range of perception varies in the individual and is not uniform in our species.
Within that range of expression are those who, thru all history, have seen the dark clouds when others did not.
To ignore those who are continually accurate in their precognition is, in my opinion, to restrict our knowledge base.
No idea that food needed to be delivered to the grocery stores either...
Aren’t groceries made and deliveried by little elves that live in a hollow tree?
In her mind:*sigh*
1. Electrical power comes from a wooden stick
2. Gasoline comes from the ground.
3. Money comes from
the governmentObama's stash.
Just the cookies and crackers.
Vegetables are provided by a giant green guy.
You’re right, she did not have a clue.
She was driving around so she could listen to the radio but she was about out of gas. She wanted them to unlock the pumps so people could get gas for free, the store didn’t need to open.
I see now and I guess Elsie the Cow milk, butter, cheese and ice cream. WOW! The things you learn on FR is amazing!
Bio Weapons - Countries without good healthcare will be hit harder
And there are those who want the population whittled down to 10% of what it is now, or even 1%. Some of those are very wealthy and control some politicians who can affect the level of health care available. Has anyone heard of Obama care? How about George Soros and Ted Turner?
A nuke in LA is less effective than a nuke in Yellow Stone. If that super volcano goes hot , the devastation would be far greater than nuking LA or Chicago.
If they nuke Detroit how would we know?
Not near enough by all indications.
The best prep is to be spiritually prepared.
I'm all for being ready to survive should something happen, but this world is not all there is and tragic as it is that people will die, everyone does at some point. What's really important is making sure we're ready to face eternity.
I sure do have a survival instinct and plan on doing so as long as possible and reasonable, but when my time comes, this will all be over, no matter how and when it ends and then I won't be worrying about it any more.
Here’s a link to the USGS showing an earthquake in that area in the last 7 days.
I looked on the internet and couldn’t find anything else on it. I don’t doubt your word but do find it odd that there’s no mention of it to speak of.
Here’s another one of a close up of the area.
“Not near enough by all indications.”
You may be right. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days of fasting and prayer and then he defeated sin (and Satan) on that Cross ...for eternity.
What better model could we have? Christians need to wake up and DO this!!!
I think you’re overly optimistic about the first 5. A single nuke is adequate to impact the entire continental US.
Both will take out the power grid, EMP is just faster.
Could we even get spare components for the electrical grid in the event of a widespread failure? Most of them are most likely manufactured overseas.
Yep, the thought of the “Obama’s Stash” woman was also passing through my mind.
Both your links show that earthquake.
I did find it curious that there was no mention of it on Drudge.
He left World-Wide-Cyber-War off the list.
The Chicoms or Russians could take down our electrical grid and utilities in a heartbeat.
The very big ones, there are very few spares lying around, and it would take months to get replacements manufactured and delivered in best of times. How are you going to off-load a replacement truck-sized transformer from Taiwan or South Korea into the Port of Long Beach and move it if there is no electrical infrastructure in Los Angeles and hasn’t been in weeks?
The smaller ones, there are more spares lying around, and low levels of service could be restored in many areas using them. However, if the attack occured in winter, they would not be able to distribute enough power to support all the buildings that are heated using electric-resistance heat.
Hehehe My vote for favorite post of the day. Bravo!!
I have a black swan for you. Technology will at some point eliminate all blue collar jobs and eventually most engineering and technical jobs. What happens when there are no more jobs?
I don’t know how Capitalism survives when there is no underlying employment base.
Yeah, I saw that both those showed the earthquake and find it very curious that I saw no mention of the earthquake ANYWHERE.
Maybe that’s changed by now.
Indisputably true, it's the one thing we all have in common...
PS Not yet though, I'm not finished yet.
If the Black Swans are this widely identifiable, the are no longer Black Swans, by definition.
Nevertheless, I can play the silly game : Make that SIX Black Swans.
The Sixth Black Swan would obliterate the capitals and infrastructure of every member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
the first twelve, in order of priority being...
Thirteen through 58 can be spared if they agree to unconditional surrender within 14 days...
Not that there is anything wrong with that.
I am aware of what I don't know, and question using an am/fm radio as a test of an EMP cabinet.
At a minimum, I know that a faraday cage needs to be grounded. And the range of frequencies that do damage to solid state electronics must be clearly understood, as well as the probable distance to a likely EMP pulse source.
I would spend my time better learning about the behavior of EMP and its effect on modern electronics first.
The most critical need under catastrophic conditions is portable reliable two-way communications. A healthy receiver, with no working civil transmitters is just another paperweight. I would certainly protect a few sets of those, together with a generous supply of rechargeable batteries in a proven faraday cage.
Not too many people can build a faraday cage to protect a modern automobile. Or to protect the energy grid or the gasoline supply. Even most solar panel chargers rely on "modern" EMP-sensitive electronics.
Although there is no substitute for actually reading the book, the next best thing is to see the author's actual words. From te Kindle Second Edition
What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes.
First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
Second, it carries an extreme impact (unlike the bird).
Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
** The highly expected not happening is also a Black Swan. Note that, by symmetry, the occurrence of a highly improbable event is the equivalent of the nonoccurrence of a highly probable one.*
The true ‘Black Swan’ event that no one seriously believes will happen is the *ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE*!!!
(cue sinister music)
Here’s the blurb and way to order “Biflationary Depression” on Amazon’s printer. It is cutting edge. https://www.createspace.com/3683488
(Art.) What if the worst happens and we go from 10-12 million illegals in the United States to 25-40 million packed into the southwestern United States in a relatively short period of time? Demographics are destiny.....
The author's behind the curve: we're already there with those numbers, or rather have been. It's like nailing Jell-O to a wall even to guess at a good number, because the Census Bureau, geeing to the nod of the PTB, has been drastically low-balling the number for years.
I would guess that the number of Mexican nationals in -country in illegal status (is there another?) is over 15,000,000 and that immigrated, amnestied, papered (legalized) immigrants, and first-generation "anchor babies" of same drive the total to around 30,000,000.
Recently there has been some recession of these big numbers as Mexicans bail for the old country as jobs dry up in the recession, so "your guess is as good as mine -- and maybe better".
WAG: a couple million "former illegals" with papers and voting rights are probably actually still illegal, slipping by with fraudulent documents and phony claims on citizenship. Not exactly a solid foundation for patriotism in the later generations.
An emerging issue is that generators have purposively made excess (standby) generating capacity go away. It's all about cost control and all that green-eyeshade stuff that minimized the number of boats on the Titanic, for example. It made sense because the Titanic was unsinkable anyway, so how can you defend burdening the shareholders -- of whom J.P. Morgan was the leader -- with a frivolous expenditure? You're going to tell Morgan he has to spend money on excess lifeboat capacity? Good luck with that!
What? What happened with that? I don't remember that.
Got link? Would like to read more.
The reductions needed to stop the fiscal bleeding would set off huge riots. Pols know this and won’t go there.
Well, I am trying. Fasting for two weeks now, how much longer do you need it, 'cuz I'm getting weak?
It’s a “listen”, not a “read” ... about 12 seconds in:
That’s why I keep saying “No matter what anyone does, much unpleasantness lies ahead”.
Who needs a black swan when you have a black Marxist.
Who needs a black swan when you have a black Marxist.
Thanks for the link...
Jobs are people doing favors for each other - 'money' is the way we keep track of those 'favors' - the bookkeeping.
"Jobs" are people doing favors for each other - 'money' is the way we keep track of those 'favors' - the bookkeeping.