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.