Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When the World Is Running Down

This week on Radio Ecoshock - the losing game. One in seven Americans are now officially poor. Millions are losing their homes. The "Recovery" was just a fantasy: if we all believed hard enough - the empty shell economy could stumble on forever. Now, even the mainstream media doubts our chances.

I'm Alex Smith. Our theme song this program: "When the World Is Running Down (you make the best of what's comming 'round) by The Police.

There are people who know what is going on...what are they saying? You will hear three voices on the triple crunch. Climate chaos, energy decline, and a global Ponzi economy going bust.

Stoneleigh will warn you.

Laurence Budd explains life after Peak Water.

And we chat with musician and gardener Dana Pearson, about getting out.... and getting trapped.

When the world is running down....

How bad do you think it is? A new survey from StrategyOne finds two out of three Americans expect another "recession". Forty four percent of those people, think the worst is yet to come. Only 5% of those polled really expected a recovery this year.

Real average earnings went up only 6 percent in this decade. But consumer spending increased 54%. Retail chains flourished to serve this mass delusion, as people mistook their houses for a piggy bank.

In Germany, Der Spiegel has finally reported on all those people living in their cars in Ventura, California.,1518,712496,00.html

Radio Ecoshock covered that in our show for May 2nd, 2008 - two years ago. Download our pocket advice for living in your car, if you had to.

The same program, "Radio for Troubled Times" also features off-grid expert Nick Rosen. Tips to unplug.

State and city governments teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. The State of Pennsylvania just stepped in to hold off foreclosure on it's capital, Harrisburg.

Some places cut public buses, others close schools Fridays. Streetlights go dim, police officers get pink slips, along with teachers and even ambulance drivers.

Many of the bankrupt cities spent billions on major capital projects that enriched the bankers and developers. Now they cannot cover the interest - it all sounds so familiar, from the bad old days of "development" in South America and Africa.

Arianna Huffington writes "America is in danger of becoming a Third World Country".

There is a race for who can be most bleak in establishment mouthpieces, like the New York Times.

An alarming number of Americans are just one pay-check away from abject poverty. Others don't get that paycheck at all.

In the New York Times, future-writer Douglas Copeland has a new word for us:

BLANK-COLLAR WORKERS Formerly middle-class workers who will never be middle class again and who will never come to terms with that.

Fortune, say the wise Chinese, is a wheel. It rises, and falls, for everything that lives. In fallen times, is the greatest opportunity.

Did we need those foreclosed monster houses? Did we need all those cops rigged out for terrorism in tiny mid-West towns? Did we need the financial mill-houses? What do we need?

We are about to find out.


At the turn of the 21st Century, 16 percent of Americans moved to a different place - 43 million people. Going for a new job, a relationship, or just to start again - it is the American way. With all the roads in the world, Americans are a mobile people.

All that is changing - and I think this is an under-reported story of the times. In the good old days - which was just 3 or 4 years ago - your sold your home and went wherever.

Now, millions of Americans are stuck. They can't sell because they are "underwater" - owing the bank more than their home is worth. Or because the going price seems ridiculously low. Nobody can get a loan to buy it, and who wants to buy a liability like real estate these days?

That means an end to many dreams, less social mobility. Better marry close to home. No chance to get out and find work elsewhere. I'm not sure the American economy can withstand the uncharted impacts of frozen people in frozen real estate.

Reporters sometimes drain their friends for a story. I volunteered musician and master gardener Dana Pearson to stand in. We had a casual conversation, and Dana is brave enough to let it go on air.

I want you to hear this, because there is a sub-text, for all those planning to escape from dangerous or degraded cities. You may dream of that organic farm in Canada, where the climate will still be kind to your descendents - but is that door already closed?

I want to thank Dana for sharing his story. You will hear more from our listeners as this season goes on.

And you will see more as well. Radio Ecoshock is developing a You tube channel, with selected video interviews, recorded with a new tool called Vodburner. Capturing Skype video calls becomes the new TV. More people now watch You tube than conventional television. Radio Ecoshock will be there. Watch this space.

That's right. I'm "pathunknown" - that's the name Google machinery assigned to my You tube name. I've struggled through various Google help talk, but the bottom line is: if I cancel this account, I am warned I may never get another one! And nobody at Google can change it! The help people sound like my mother "only you can change it..."

Hey, Sergey Brin - the renewable energy fan at Google - if you or your minions read this - can you help me out? Please! I don't want to be "pathunknown".

Although, maybe I should accept that Karma. Maybe my path is unknown. Maybe the direction for all of us is uncertain....

Radio Ecoshock also has a large audience of downloaders - from our web site at, and from other podcast feeders and readers. Last June, we had over 31,000 Radio Ecoshock programs downloaded in a single month.

Hello to all those around the world who volunteer to be disturbed, with the awful truth, from one of the most depressing shows on radio...

And thank you for listening.


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