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Charles Shaw

Charles Shaw

Posted February 25, 2009 | 12:08 PM (EST)

The Perfect Crash Course in The Economy


By now people all across the nation (and around the world) are beginning to wake up from the string of roundhouse-kicks-to-the-head they have received as they watched the economy collapse. By now the bandits have all ridden out of town, while the Sheriff and his posse sat by and watched 'em go...even gave 'em all big ole sacks of money on their way out. The credit cards are now useless, and the health insurance just got canceled. The 401K has lost 40% of it's value, and the pension got eliminated in the new union contract. Now things are hard, and people are struggling. They're stressed out and depressed. They want to know who's responsible, and why. How can America sink into another depression? How is that possible? Things will get better, right? How did this happen? When will it end? What's going to happen?

Well, to truly understand how our economy collapsed and where it's headed from here you would also have to understand a number of other things like the energy economy, the financial, credit, and banking systems, governmental laws, structures and procedures, and a lot of statistical analysis and capitalist economic theory. And then you would need to know how these things connect to political corruption, climate change. overpopulation, peak oil, pollution, resource depletion, and species extinction. Yay, fun.

So, if you really are that much of a glutton for punishment, to get even a fundamental grasp, you'd need to hit up Netflix for An Inconvenient Truth, IOUSA: One Nation Under Debt, The 11th Hour, Sicko, The Corporation, The End of Suburbia, Oil, Smoke & Mirrors, the entire 5 disc Planet Earth series, and a dozen others. Then you'd need to head over to Amazon for a long...long...list of books like The Party's Over, The Long Emergency, Perfectly Legal, and The Creature from Jekyll Island. Let's not even contemplate a list of articles.

As you can see, the problem is that the only people with enough time to do all that are writers like myself, and the unemployed (these days, often the same). The only people with enough money to afford all the research are the ones who rarely have any time to consume it. Most people have neither the time nor the resources, and wouldn't know where to begin even if they did.

It was for all of these people and more that Chris Martenson, a former professor, research scientist, and Fortune 300 VP, created The Crash Course, a three-hour long internet video presentation that is a literal "crash course" in the economic, environmental, and societal "crashes" that are unfolding all around us. No matter who you are, you will walk away with a complete and comprehensible picture of our economic situation, and a strong sense of where we are headed in the coming years.

Martenson had one of those rare awakenings of consciousness (and, it appears, conscience) that compelled him to leave his successful career, sell his home, and move his family somewhere more sustainable. He also dedicated himself to creating a simple and effective tool for teaching people about the economy, being the kind of obsessive brainiac that is perfectly suited to the task of aggregating and distilling staggering amounts of utterly baffling information. He holds a Doctorate from Duke and an MBA from Cornell, and is a self described "obsessive financial observer."

The main claim of The Crash Course is that "massive change is upon us, and and to understand the nature of this change, we need to understand the 'three E"s -- the Economy, Energy, and the Environment.'" He accomplishes this in twenty short, austerely produced segments which average about seven or eight minutes each.

Martenson possesses an uncanny ability to parlay remarkably understandable explanations of a number of complex and arcane subjects. He covers compounding exponential growth, inflation and the money supply, fractional-reserve banking, fiat currency, government budgets and accounting practices, which he then deftly ties into environmental issues, farming practices, population demographics, cooper ore mining, and housing bubbles. His sources are vast, and include a surprisingly large percentage of official government data. His main tool of persuasion is the "hockey stick" graph, a measure of exponential growth. When Martenson overlays the graphs of all these seemingly separate crises on top of one another a shudder will race up and down your spine.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of this presentation is its credibility and lack of pretension or perceivable agenda. Martenson avoids the hyperbolic prognostications of the run-of-the-mill apocalypto, opting instead to boil down his message down to three simple points he calls his "beliefs":


"The first is that the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years. Second, I believe that its possible that the pace and/or scope of change could overwhelm the ability of our key social and support institutions to adapt. Third, I believe we do not lack any technology or understanding necessary to build ourselves a better future."

Be forewarned. This is not warm fuzzy, bliss bunny, glitter pony, kinda stuff. But Martenson doesn't just leave you hangin', he ends by laying out a kind of blueprint for beginning the transition to what is looking to be a significant and inevitable shift in our lifestyles. Despite the unpleasantness, this is need-to-know stuff, a primer for living in this new era, and you'll be better off in the end. He promises.

Chris Martenson's The Crash Course can be viewed at http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse

Special thanks to ST Frequency at Reality Sandwich for suggesting this story.