Thursday, September 22, 2016

Time and the Principle of Imminent Collapse

Investors and bankers assert that time is money. Time may as well be money but so is money both a wealth and a debt. Debt may indeed be a form of negative money but there are two types of debt: one is currency and the other is physical need.

Monitory debt is the borrowing of cash with a promise to repay after some period of time. Physical debt arises when infrastructure needs are not addressed in a timely fashion. A simple example is a fleet of two vehicles with useful life of 5 years. The fleet owner must replace two vehicles every year in order to not let the average fleet age exceed 5 years. If the owner does two vehicles every year, that replacement schedule will go on indefinitely. If the requisite two vehicles are not replaced a physical debt is incurred that must some time be repaid. One could wait for all 5 years to pass then make the expenditure for 10 vehicles all at once.

The first plan works well for anyone who plans to stay in business for a long time such as generationally.  The second plan works well if the current owner expects to bail out of the business and leave the ruins for someone else to handle.

Now we need to extend this concept to the millions of miles of water mains and customer tap pipes that are buried under our city streets and roadways. Most water mains are publicly owned and will be replaced at ratepayer expense at some time in the future. With a 30 to 50 lifecycle for water mains, between 1/30th to 1/50th of the total miles of pipe need to be replaced every year for there to not be a physical debt building up that will reach epidemic proportions as all the pipes and joints become a day older for every day they are not replaced. Since we are talking millions of miles of pipes we ate likewise talking about hundreds of thousands of miles of pipe every year.

Sewer lines are likewise publicly owned and must be maintained by the governing municipalities. The most common cause of urban sinkholes that suck down entire street intersections is a collapsed sanitary or storm sewer line deep under the street that has been in place about a month too long. The collapse starts deep underground when the collapse occurs. It progresses unseen until it reaches the surface and surprises everyone with a gaping hole it the street. It is then that politicians vow to get it fixed as quickly as possible so that traffic may resume its carefree flow.

Gas transmission lines are usually privately owned and operated but they cannot escape the ravages of time and the Principle of Imminent Collapse. Corrosion, earth movement, frost heaving, weld and metal fatigue have caused nearly half of the 7,763 volatile liquid and gas pipeline failures since 1986. The other half is from excavation neglect and the mysterious Other Cause. This article is not an indictment of the fossil fuel industry but rather one of the ubiquitous need for regular pipe replacement and maintenance. Both will necessitate an increase of operating costs, but someone has to pay the monitory debt or the physical debt. There is no such thing as a free lunch. (TINSTAAFL)

The big infrastructure debt that we have been incurring during the past few decades is the highway and bridge category. Our tax base via the motor fuels tax on cents per gallon has not been raised since 1985. The Federal 18.5 Cents per gallon has become woefully inadequate as more and more vehicle miles driven increases at the same time as the fuel efficiency has double to tripled over the years.  In 1973 a car that got 11 mpg and be driven 20,000 miles per year would have paid $612 in tax at the 1985 rate (same as today). That same driver today in a car that gets 24 mpg pays $154 for the road he uses. The roads are wearing out. The bridges are 30 years older since the last time the tax rate was increased. someone needs to pay for the maintenance and replacement.

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How People Fight Back

When two men get into an argument and one of them makes a fist and swings, the other usually tries to deflect the strike and makes a fist to strike back. The goal is to be the "last man standing."

When two or more men gang up on another it is not a fight but a beating that is intended. Unless the lone recipient of the violence is a master at martial arts, he's going to get the beating. He may even look for an object to yield as a weapon. He may have come prepared to defend himself with a concealed weapon such as a knife or handgun.

The complexity of conflict continually escalates up through conventional warfare to battles between highly weaponized military forces and men in tents in the desert. Whereas the heavily armed military use the brute force of their armaments, the vastly weaker adversary must use deception, surprise, innovation and outrageous acts.

In the film "Battle of Algiers" the captured Algerian fighter was being interrogated by the French military.  The man was part of a bomb attack where the explosives were secreted in a baby carriage. The French officer was outraged by the fact of their enemy using the cover of the carriage in their fight for independence from the French Colonials. The Algerian replied, "You give us your airplanes and we will give you our baby carriages." In short the Algerians were using whatever tools and weapons they could muster against the vastly larger French military.

How long the victim of violence will hold off fighting back is an unknown quantity. Bullies in the school yard are often surprised when their quarry finally strikes back and devastates the bully by a factor of 10x or more. The victim had reached that point where a measurable commensurate response is out the window. Sometimes the victim seeks a response that involves far more than the actual bully.

It has been suggested for how to create terrorists is to bomb, kill and maim a person's family and neighborhood and there be no remedy and no stopping the next attack. A man gets angry quite easily when justice is not forthcoming.

Here in the US we have been having a terrible season of police killings of minority persons where the city or state refuses to indict the killers, indicts and drops charges, or takes the killers to trial only to fail to convict. Such outcomes are viewed as being nearly 100% of the time. This leave no room for remedy. The question is how long will any demographic stand down and accept that police are being given the right to kill people of your demographic with impunity. How long will it be before minority persons "use their baby carriages" against the superior armed militarized police?

Cities in America are very fortunate that protesting angry people only riot, burn cars, and loot stores in their venting the frustrations created by unjustified police killings of unarmed black men. It is fortunate they are highly armed and inclined to shoot back when the confrontations erupt.

The fact of police killing of citizens is make even more egregious when the statistics are viewed.

The news reports show a black man getting gunned down within seconds of police confrontation while a white man is negotiated with and arrested (or not) for greater alleged violations after hours of confrontation. Black men who only were minding their own business get arrested for "resisting arrest" when there was no arrest-able infraction in the first place. Black people who were seeking the assistance become the suspect/assailant who gets arrested and or killed by the police. Black people who get shot by police who were looking for someone else who has an outstanding warrant. The reports that show the utter disregard for the injured and dying police shooting victim who is allowed to die. The videos of beefy police officers descending on a black suspect and suffocating him or kicking and punching him mercilessly while other officers stand around and watch the assault. The considered opinion is these officers are heavy users of steroids for body-building and may be manifesting "Roid Rage." Then the police unions refuse to be drug tested for any illicit drugs which may be contributing to their violent behaviors.

We as a society are creating the conditions for a major rebellion here in the US. When the guilty go unpunished anger will be intensified. Back in the 1970s there arose the assertion that criminals were getting away with their crimes. They were "getting off on a technicality." They were getting mere hand slaps from liberal judges. So as a response, state legislatures enacted a barrage of statutory minimum sentencing requirements and the so called "three strikes" rule that could put a man in prison for life for stealing a pack of cigarettes. Charles Bronson became a celebrity for his five Death Wish movies where he is the reluctant vigilante killing all the very ethnic-looking bad guys. Dirty Harry movies also became popular.

Everyone in this country knows there is a police violence, police shooting epidemic going on, even though there are a few conservative minded people who have raised denial to an art form. If nothing is done to stem the tide of violence and death at the hands of police officers we will be creating a class of terrorist who will take it into their own hands to obtain their notion of "justice."

The tinder is dry. The wind is blowing. It will only require a spark to set a conflagration going. The Principle of Imminent Collapse asserts that it only requires a nudge to bring down a volatile system.

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