Shifting Baselines

May 5, 2011

Current Events

Often times I stop and marvel that almost everyone else seems to be unaffected by what, to me, are alarming headlines:  The S & P Rating for US Debt Downgraded to “Negative,” Alliances of Foreign Nations No Longer Trade in Dollars, China and Japan Sell Off Large Quantities of US Treasuries, Almost 300 Banks Have “Failed” in the Past 2 Years, National Debt Rises to $118K Per Taxpayer.

Those things are quite noteworthy to me, yet most people are just going about their business as if those things aren’t important.  How can that be?

A Case in Point

Recently, the answer finally struck me.  I was reading about how so many Japanese people near the ruined nuclear reactors were reluctant to leave their homes.  The author said that he attributed it to the gradual carefully worded releases of information by the government that lulled the citizens into complacency.

They had initially been told that there was no problem with radiation leakage, then a small issue but nothing to worry about.  Next, just as a precaution, those who live within X distance may want to stay indoors, and so on.  And remember that the country had just sustained a massive earthquake.  In the course of a week, “normal” had changed so much that the little increments no longer alarmed them.

The author suggested that if the people had been told up front that the reactor was damaged and the effects of the possible radiation leakage were impossible to predict, they would have wisely fled the area.  But the constant and gradual statements by the government dulled their senses to reality.  They achieved the government’s goals by not creating panic and mass exodus.

The “New Normal”

I think the same thing has happened in the US with regards to our economic situation.  We constantly hear updates about how the politicians are still arguing over what cuts should be made and the new figure for our national debt.  Those numbers are so enormous that we really can’t appreciate what they mean.  And the problems have been passed along for so long now that continuing to postpone the consequences seems plausible.  I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to as “shifting baselines.”

Insidious Inflation

Inflation is a good example.  It is a slow creeping most of the time.  The cost of the things we buy is steadily going up, but just gradually enough that we don’t take much notice of it.  If the price changes a few cents a month, it hardly catches our attention.  It’s only when gas goes up $.10/gallon in a week that we take notice.

I think a lot of things are that way, but we need to stop just accepting the “new normal” and take notice of what is going on.  Our national debt and general out-of-control spending habits are no less dangerous than that Japanese nuclear reactor.

Educate Yourself

Please do your own research.  Read up on the unsustainable system we have in place now.  Take steps to shield yourself from what we feel is the inevitable breakdown.  Don’t be one of the millions of people who will be caught off guard and unprepared.  Take action and protect yourself by laying in a supply of food, toiletries, and medicines.  Get trained in skills that will serve you well long term.  Please don’t be lulled into complacency.

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9 Comments on “Shifting Baselines”

  1. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    Unfortunately, getting ready for a crash seems like the only thing the average person can do. We have the Peter Schiff’s and the Chris Martenson’s who can get the word out there, but if those guys aren’t able to sway opinion then I fear we – the little people – have very little say in what goes on in the government.

    What can we do on a personal level? I don’t own 100 cable channels, my cell phone is a Trak Fone and I don’t even know where it is half the time. My truck is paid for and I don’t own credit cards or have any debt. If I can’t pay for it with cash I don’t buy it. But the average American living the dream is in debt up to their asses!

    I agree that the one thing we can do is prep. Excellent post.


    • Joe Says:

      There’s an interesting parallel between the average American family’s finances and the U.S. government’s financial status. For the most part, both seem to be overextended, buying what they think are the necessities of life all the while going deeper and deeper in debt. Neither seemed to be too concerned about creating an austere budget and having the discipline to stick to it. A little pain up front with a huge reward down the road.

      So, as you said, Jarhead, for those of us on the sideline watching the train slowly wreck, the best thing we can do is to brace for the impact.



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