Yellow Vests

Yellow Vest

What would happen if we all put on yellow vests and protested in the streets?

Governments would panic and hand out printed money since that’s their only option for providing more stuff in the short-term. As a consequence, the riots would stop, CO2 emissions would immediately increase, and a few months later currency destroying inflation would begin, which would increase social unrest and enable a despot to take over (a la Weimar), who would attempt to increase prosperity with war, except this time war will not help because we’ve already burned all the good booty, and we would enter a scarcity death spiral since war will deplete faster the resources we are fighting over, and finally a few decades later, runaway climate change would take out whatever is left of civilization.

What if governments responded by taxing the rich and redistributing wealth to the poor?

Most of the wealth of the rich is locked up in assets that do not circulate within the economy. If these assets were liquidated and redistributed the poor would immediately spend their new wealth which would dramatically increase inflation because there is far more paper wealth than real wealth in our economy. As inflation destroyed the currency, social unrest would increase leading to the same death spiral described above.

Dammit you’re depressing! What the fuck should we do then?

6 thoughts on “Yellow Vests”


    Gov Brown thinks it’s time to let folks know that being comfortable might not be possible anymore-

    “This IPCC report makes unmistakably clear that the world must radically change. It must decarbonize and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity. The big powers – the United States, China, India and the European Union – must show the way. We can do it but only if the deniers, the skeptics and the comfortable wake up to what the scientists are telling us.”


  2. Tim Morgan on the real reason French citizens are angry…

    “If you subscribe to the conventional and consensus interpretation, economic issues would seem to play only a supporting role in the wave of popular unrest sweeping much of the West. You would concede that the seemingly preferential treatment of a tiny minority of the very rich has angered the majority, and that some economic tendencies – amongst them, diminishing security of employment – have helped fuel popular unrest.

    Beyond this, though, you would note that economies are continuing to grow, and this would force you to look for explanations outside the purely economic sphere. From this, you might conclude that ‘agitators’, from the right or left of the political spectrum, might be playing a part analogous to the role of “populist” politicians in fomenting public dissatisfaction with the status quo.

    If, on the other hand, you subscribe to the surplus energy interpretation of the economy professed here, your view of the situation would concentrate firmly on economic issues.

    Though GDP per capita may be continuing to improve, the same cannot be said of prosperity. According to SEEDS (the Surplus Energy Economics Data System), personal prosperity in France has deteriorated by 7% since 2000, a trend starkly at variance with the growth (of 12%) in reported GDP over the same period.”

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  3. “What would a wise society do?”

    Who can say since no such society had ever existed, nor will. Some have been less stupid and brutal (at home), but much of that is circumstantial. It’s much easier to play better nature of our angels when energy & resources are cheap and abundant and the ruling class is less corrupt.

    What choices do the overlords have? Bread and circuses or the authoritarian boot on the neck.

    Same as it ever was. Power NEVER gives itself away or shares, except upon pain of death and even that don’t sway many of them.

    The Only Thing, Historically, That’s Curbed Inequality: Catastrophe

    Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities.


    1. I think you’re wrong on this point. The election of Trump is proof that citizens can still elect someone that the elite don’t want in power. Of course in this case the citizens chose to use their power to elect an idiot who is not acting in their best interests, which is yet another issue related to denial.

      We will probably soon lose our democratic power because we are not appropriately using this power, so in the long run you will be right, but there is no one to blame except ourselves (or more accurately our genes).


  4. Dr. Nafeez Ahmed here explains why Europeans are pissed off. Note that both the citizens and their leaders are in complete denial of what’s actually happening to them, and this denial is making their situation worse.

    “The energy turning point is unequivocal. In the years preceding the historic Brexit referendum, and the marked resurgence of nationalist, populist and far-right movements across Europe, the entire continent has faced a quietly brewing energy crisis.

    Europe is now a ‘post-peak oil’ continent. Currently, every single major oil producer in Western Europe is in decline. According to data from BP’s 2018 Statistical Review of Energy, Western European oil production peaked between 1996 and 2002. Since then, production had declined while net imports have gradually increased.”

    “It is telling that while some demands are compelling, there is no semblance of understanding the real planetary crisis beyond banal tropes about Big Banks. The French state has responded with its own violence, firing water cannons and tear gas on protestors, arresting over a thousand people, and threatening to bring in the French Army.”

    “This is a microcosm of what can happen when states and peoples both fail to understand the deeper dynamics of a failing system: everyone responds to what is in front of them. Protestors blame Macron. The French state cracks down on violence. Politics becomes militarised, while scepticism of the liberal incumbency across the political spectrum finds vindication.”

    “France’s riots therefore did not come out of the blue. They are part and parcel of a wider process of slow-burn EROI decline in which the returns to society from economic activity are being increasingly constrained by the higher energetic costs of that activity and productivity declines of the ageing centralised industrial-era infrastructure and technology. It was only a matter of time before the average person began to feel the impact of that squeeze in their day to day lives. Macron’s tax hikes were not the cause, but the trigger. They lit the match, but the tinder box was already fuming.”

    “Earth system disruption does not inevitably result in destabilisation of human systems. But if human systems refuse to engage and adapt to those disruptions, then they will be destabilised. As long as Britain, Europe and their citizens continue to obsess myopically on the symptoms rather than the causes, we will be incapable of responding meaningfully to those causes. Instead, we will fight with each other manically about the symptoms, while the ground beneath our feet continues to unravel.”

    View at


  5. A government that borrows more money than can be repaid from taxes is effectively printing money, although for a period of time the illusion of normalcy can be maintained. Let’s come back in a year or so and see what happens to inflation.

    “Macron’s sweeteners are coming at a cost,” Berenberg Economists Kallum Pickering and Florian Hense said in a research note Tuesday.”They add up to 10 billion euros or slightly more, equivalent to 0.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). On top of the already announced 4 billion to cancel the fuel tax hike, this could push the 2019 deficit from 2.8 percent to 3.4 percent of GDP unless offset by savings, which will be difficult to find,” they noted. France’s debt-to-GDP will likely rise beyond 100 percent as a result of the concessions too.”


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