spacer.gif (46 bytes)

mmmfileslogo1.JPG (23259 bytes)


spacer.gif (46 bytes)

1995 -1996 

Chuck Jorgensen Dec, 1995

News Note: "The summer of 1993s multibillion dollar Missouri and Mississippi River Valley floods were the worst in living memory."

News Note: Jan 8, 96, "A monstrous, crippling blizzard . . . . For the cities from Washington to Boston . . . the greatest snowstorm . . . since careful records began 125 years ago" (NYT).

Good News & Bad News
The good news about us humans is that to the extent that we are reasonably reasonable, rational, open-minded and intelligent, we do learn from experience, and the younger we are the quicker we learn. The bad news is that too often the experience is limited by our personal memory or life span.

If something traumatic happened regularly every one, five or ten years, after the second or third time, we’d adjust our routine for that day, or week, or season. For example, most people building or living on a flood plain would learn to either mover to higher ground, or invest in the necessary defensive measures.

However, if the event happened only every 30 or 50 years, or 100 to 500 years, as in the case, apparently, of major California earthquakes, Mississippi River floods, and "snow storms of the century," for just three examples, individuals would not be able to remember the exact circumstances of the previous episode, or, more likely, did not live long enough to incorporate the event into their individual consciousness and planning.

The Old Ones
In tribal, non literate, traditional societies, the "old people" and a rich oral tradition functioned to educate the group concerning the larger natural and spiritual world to which it belonged. As a Lakota maxim asserts: "A people without history is like the wind on the buffalo grass."

The closest thing we have today to "the old ones", those who guarded and transmitted the lessons of the past, is history itself. After all, we do have reasonably good records of the past 200 years in the industrialized countries, most particularly in the United States. Why not check out those records and see if some reoccurring set of conditions are in fact happening?

History as Bunk
I know too well that History has been so often misused to propagate a particular secular or religious creed, left, right, up, down, and around the corner, that its very credibility has been questioned. And for the past 20 years, everyone previously neglected has successfully demanded their fifteen lines in the history book. Thus, history as history, and not some therapeutic activity designed to enhance group self-esteem, has been generally dismissed as a guide to our present and to our future.

Many people under 50 have been especially assaulted with utter nonsense in the name of history, propagandized in the name of some higher good, or overwhelmed with such minutia that once again the forest has been obscured. And as a result, too many younger people have joined old Henry Ford in believing that "History is bunk."

An Era can be said to be at an end
when its basic illusions are exhausted.
- Arthur Miller

Our Choice
Nonetheless, as we humans are periodically forced to remember, failing to learn the hard lessons of the past necessarily condemns us to repeat its mistakes. Equally self destructive is the ignorance of the past that isolates the individual historically, compelling that person to confront the present as uniquely threatening, and the future as personally hopeless.

Remember,the future is happening in any case. That much is certain. We can either allow it to happen to us, or we can act upon and shape it. The choice is ours, as usual. mmm

NEWS ITEM: On May 23, 1992, and with the National Debt already at 4 trillion dollars, and with the annual interest payments some 10 times what the federal government spent on education for the young, G.I. Generation Lee Iacocca told a graduating class of Generation Xers at John Hopkins University, “My generation did something to yours that was never done to us or to any other generation. We didn’t pay our debts.”

For several years, Kirt Sechooler and I had been meeting almost weekly to work on his technocycle model of industrial development. I had even taken a sabbatical to seriously investigate what had been written in regard to British and German industrial development, to see if Kirt’s cycles of technology model had implications beyond the United States’ experience.

Collapse of the Left
At about that time, came Mikhail Gorbachev’s candid admission that the seventy-year Soviet experiment in socialism had failed, quickly followed by a flood of dismal information from the other east European “socialist” states. The emergent reality of the late 1980s dealt a severe blow to what had been Marxist influenced models of economic development and history. More, the rejection of the planned-economy model precipitated a sort of born-again interest in laissez-faire, free market, capitalism, classical liberal theories and writings.

What Sechooler and I had already discovered in our research and studies was that neither the now rejected left nor the newly empowered right had any real knowledge or understanding of the history of the very economic processes they had either hoped to direct or to now set free. Indeed, even among those somewhere in-between the two poles of left and right, we found no evidence of any historical-based convictions. As a result, we began writing and attempting to get our ideas published.

And then came two events that settled any doubts as to the historic and moral necessity for the two of us to plunge ahead in alerting the literate public, particularly those under 50, to our historically based model. The first event was the 1992 publication of the very profound William Strauss and Neil Howe’s Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. Their pioneering generational model for United States social history when added to Kirt’s technocycle model of economic development instantly synergized into our now expanded paradigm for the next century.

Alan Greenspan & CSPAN
The second event was actually a several months long experience of watching testimony being presented on CSPAN by purported expert after expert, government, business, academic, union, and private citizen. Specific details and recent economic and business facts aside. I realized that not a one who I saw and listened to indicated any grasp of the larger, historical processes that were now ending. But it was Alan Greenspan who finally demonstrated and forced me to confront the fact that no one in charge had a clue.

On numerous occasions in the recessionary months of 1991 and 1992, and along with millions of other Americans, I watched Alan Greenspan on CSPN regularly testify before and answer questions from various U.S. House and Senate Committees and Sub-Committees’ members. Greenspan and the Federal Reserve could change the amount of money in circulation, as well as change the short-term interest rate, the cost(s) for whatever money business and individuals wish to borrow. He was (is) someone of no small significant political-economic power, yet someone who had achieved his Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve System, the United States’ version of a Central Bank, because he was thought to be one of the very best we had for that extremely important job.

In addition to wielding the real and direct power to expand or constrict national economic activity, Alan Greenspan’s general economic credibility and knowledge had already become legendary for that time.. Senators, Representatives, citizens --all wanted to know his thoughts on the very difficult times America was experiencing; what was the cause of the recession; and most important of all, what if anything could the national government do to ameliorate the circumstances?

"Senator, I Do Not Know the Answer"
During one particular committee hearing, Greenspan answered a question about the then current, and very extreme, economic decline being experienced by the economy in general and particularly its impact upon the growing unemployment of so many white-collar/middle-management Americans. He responded to one question about the nature of this unemployment with the answer, “Senator, I do not know the answer to that question. I haven’t seen anything like this in my entire life.”

While I had never been a particular fan of Greenspan, I truly did believe that he was smarter than that. His statement exposed a very shallow knowledge of American economic history, one bordering on a naiveté certainly more expected from a college undergraduate rather than the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the nation’s Central Bank. Think about it: “I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”

Libraries, Books, Reading
Whatever happened to libraries, to books, to reading and studying history? America stands on the threshold of the Third Millennium, and we are supposed to rely on the memories of “the old ones,” even such a prestigious “old one” as Alan Greenspan? A profoundly major characteristic separating industrial and emergent post-industrial societies from tribal, pre-literate and pre-industrial societies is the continuous written record of the economic changes through which those societies have moved. This is most particularly true in regard to the past two hundred years of industrial development in the United States.

And here we had an admission of historic ignorance, an intellectual nakedness, by one of this country’s foremost political-economic authorities. To make such an admission, and then not to be challenged on it by any Senator on the committee, or (to my knowledge) by any member of the Congress, the academic community, the national or international press in the following days --all demonstrated to me how truly imperative the research being done by Sechooler and myself really was.

NEWS ITEM: In 1996, the U.S. National Debt reached $5 trillion, and on March 29, 1996, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted to raise the National Debt limit to $5.5 trillion. At 7% interest, that is close to $400 billion per year. They are still not paying their debts. mmm

| Home Page | Who Are We | Beginnings | Present Dilema | Central Economic Task of Our Times | Demographic Configuration | End of Industrialism | End of Liberalism | Republican Dilemma | Stagnant Incomes |

Comments | MMM Files | to the top