As general economic conditions deteriorate in the United States and around the world we hear politicians and bureaucrats increasing using fire analogies in reference to the financial and economic meltdown. Almost every day we hear politicians, reporters, and economists making statements like, "We have to put out the fire now, or that there is a fire raging through our financial-economic system."- As it turns out these analogies are well founded because both fire and man are part of nature.
Because man is part of nature his social behavior is subject to natural periodic cyclical processes of creation and destruction. Fire is a regenerative force in nature that periodically removes waste products that build up in natural ecosystems on a regular and periodic basis. In a similar manner, regular natural periodic recessions remove excesses and rot that build up in financial, economic and political systems during boom times.
Most natural ecosystems are adapted to light cool fires that burn out dead debris and brush every one to three years. There are some ecosystems that naturally cycle in longer catastrophic cycles in the Arctic and in Australia , but most natural ecosystems use fire to regenerate every several years. The large trees in the forest are protected by insulating bark from light cool fires, while the roots of grasses and herbs are protected by the topsoil and quickly sprout back after a light fire has passed.
Because man is part of nature we can also see these same natural periodic cycles in the growth and collapse of man's social systems. In boom times all manner of social rot builds up from outright fraud and deceit to excessive unrealistic expectations of future unlimited growth and opportunity. When man's social systems are allowed to cycle naturally, economic, financial and political bubbles are allowed to collapse in small limited recessions removing the social rot. The limited recession, like the light fire in the forest ecosystem, removes the excesses from the social system that then leads to economic expansion once again.
As mankind learns and evolves there is a tendency to make false assumptions about both nature and social systems and to begin attempts to improve on nature and social systems. Again this is a learning process and mistakes are bound to be made based on these false assumptions. In the case of fire at the beginning of the past century some folks got it into their minds that fire was bad for the environment and began attempts at fire suppression through the U.S. Forest Service.
Over the past century fire suppression got better and better, but with the suppression of fire, debris began to build up in the Nation's forests to catastrophic levels resulting in catastrophic wildfires that could not be stopped and that burned up the whole forest. The wildfire that consumed Yellowstone National Park was the result of the fire suppression policies set forth decades earlier. Ironically Yellowstone burned because the same incompetent people that were involved in the suppression of light natural fires finally realized that they had created a power keg that was about to explode. They tried to control burn but just as incompetently let the controlled fire get out of control.
Coincidentally over this past century mankind has also learned how to suppress limited frequent economic recessions. This suppression of limited natural occurring recessions that remove economic, political and financial rot and excess has resulted in a catastrophic accumulation. This has created the conditions for a catastrophic collapse of global social systems beginning with the global financial system. Like with fire the collapse is exceeding the ability to suppress because the rot accumulation has become so great. We can now expect the financial meltdown to continue into the global economic and political systems with increasing disastrous consequences.
The same mistakes made with fire over the past century have been made socially. We need to learn from these mistakes rather that throw even more monies into suppression efforts. Unfortunately suppression also creates powerful special interests that fight efforts to understand these mistakes and re-balance the system. These entrenched interests demand even greater efforts at suppression which will eventually result in naught. Monies should be saved to rejuvenate the system after the collapse is complete.
Huge societal excesses, deceptions, fraud and other rot has built up since the great depression of the 1930s and now is threatening yet another great depression. As with Yellowstone National Park in the past, today's political, economic and social leaders are actually bringing to fruition their greatest economic and social nightmares. Again ironically their economic remedies to control the situation are fanning the flames.
Much of the rot in society has to do with the concentration of power in all social systems. Today's leaders are continuing to try to prop up the large institutions responsible for this mess with funds siphoned off from the taxpayers. This is being done either through an overt direct increase in taxes, or from a covert hidden tax of future hyper-inflation.
While recessions and depressions may be naturally occurring rejuvenating forces like fire, these great depressions are the result of mankind's misunderstanding of the natural role of recessions and the economic cycle. Often our initial attempts to control nature and ourselves backfire because of our misunderstanding and irresponsible interference in natural processes.
After this financial, economic, political and social collapse from this catastrophic super cycle of our own creation, our social systems will recover and be rejuvenated just as is happening with Yellowstone National Park. Instead of getting the pain in small regular stable doses over time we have elected to take the pain all at once and in one huge dose. The problem is that this destabilizes the whole social system causing a huge restructuring of human activity in a short period of time. When we look back on this collective experience we may discover that a whole way of life has now truly gone with the wind.