When will things fall apart?

As I look through articles about the clear unsustainability of our current system, the most common comment from readers of sites like ZeroHedge, The Burning Platform and others is: “We KNOW things are going to hell. That doesn’t help. Tell us WHEN it’s going to break!”

I get the attraction of a big event that causes some kind of dislocation. And yes, it feels weird to say that, since I’m not actually looking forward to experiencing such an event: It’s going to be really unpleasant for everyone. But it’s partly a “let’s get it over with” kind of feeling, like waiting for a doctor to pop your shoulder back in, and it’s partly an “I told you so” kind of feeling, so you can show all those people who thought you were Chicken Little that there actually, really, truly is something wrong.

The problem lies with idea of looking for some event as the trigger, when in reality it’s a process – a slow one. It’s like an untreated cavity: You get to a point where it’s too late to save the tooth, but the rot hasn’t hit the nerve yet. At some point the pain will force you to the dentist, where you’re in for some deep drilling or a total removal. But we’re not there yet.

But make no mistake, we’re on our way there. We have $20 trillion in actual debt, plus tens or even hundreds of trillions in unfunded government liabilities. We have entire industries – autos, education, healthcare, finance – that have grown beyond their means through false promises and free money. We have total political discord, with the idea of “common ground” and “national interest” as quaint memories. And there are countless other indicators of dysfunction and rot.

When will the rot hit the nerve? I don’t know. But there’s no doubt that it will, and every day before then is a day to enjoy and a day to prepare.

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