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North Korea at night: it’s the black hole surrounded by civilization
credit: military bases.com

In September of 2021, I wrote Fragile Civilization, High Stakes.  That article was occasioned by a four hour power outage in our medium-sized Wyoming town, a thankfully rare experience.  Recent events, including our meat puppet President’s serial labeling of half and more of Americans as enemies of the state, have me thinking about that year old article, and more.  So for your reading pleasure and discomfiture, an updated version.

It [the year past outage] was, for us, and I’m sure for most folks, merely an inconvenience.  Businesses lost four hours of income, people had to do without gasoline if their tanks were dry—gas stations had no power to pump fuel, and no power to run cash registers–and for folks without an outdoor, propane BBQ grill or a fire pit, dinner had to wait.  Our hospital and other essential facilities had generators, and fired those up, reminding Mrs. Manor and me a generator might not be a bad idea–for brief outages.  Readers of this scruffy little blog used to reading the following day’s post at 1700 had to wait a bit.  But for most people, it was no big deal.

As Mrs. Manor and I sat on the front porch in our rocking chairs—never imagined we’d ever do that, but we had a front porch just sitting there–we chatted with neighbors, and all reflected on the fragility of our civilization.  Out here in Wyoming and in much of Flyover Country, an extended power outage would not be nearly as catastrophic as it would be in many of the blue states, particularly major cities.  That is partially because we have retained the rule of law, and should dimwitted politicians try to degrade it, we would set them straight damned quickly.  Failing that, we’d establish the rule of law ourselves.

Not only that, we would band together to help each other.  Would people who would work together to maintain order do less?  No one would be starving or in need of fundamentals if any of us could help it, and we could.  Wyomingites retain that frontier ethic.  We’re not all that far removed from our pioneer roots, and we know life can get hard, fast.

But because of our advancement, our prosperity, our general ease of living, Americans take much for granted.  Far too many Americans have taken the next step beyond that and become entitled.  They don’t expect to work for what they have, they expect others to provide it.  Most Wyomingites don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from, or about having to fight off hostile tribes, though they see the possibility of having to do that again, possibly soon.  Only occasionally do we reflect on how fragile civilization–all that we have built over generations–actually is.  We have climbed out of tribalism, the ravages of common diseases, and are far better able to deal with nature than ever before, regardless of what the climate change cracktivists say, but we could lose it all gradually, then suddenly.

A loss of electricity in a major city for even a week and life would quickly devolve to the meanest state of nature, and the survival of the most vicious and conscienceless.  Virtually everything upon which we rely to conduct the daily business of living depends on inexpensive, universally available power: electricity and fossil fuel.  Yet, a significant portion of our population tells us we’re in a marvelous “transition” to a “clean energy future’ which, even were it possible, would make power expensive, scarce, and in places, virtually unobtainable.

In reality, we’re not “transitioning.”  To be sure, our Democrat/Socialist/Communist self-imagined elite will wreck the economy and worse pursuing the non-existent threat of “Climate Change.”  These are people who make their own reality and try to force everyone else to live in it.  But in real reality, we don’t have the minerals and other substances necessary to build all the solar panels windmills and electric vehicle batteries necessary to bring their fevered nightmares to reality, and even if there were, those energy sources are intermittent and unreliable.

For another dose of real reality, we need only visit the People’s Republic of California, a one-party state, where Maximum Leader For Life Gavin Newsom, who is using a considerable amount of the world’s petroleum reserves on his hair, has recently banned all conventionally fueled vehicles by 2035.  Even better, California, which hasn’t built any real infrastructure in decades, is out of electrical power.  Newsom recently pulled this stunt:  

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom was slammed as a hypocrite Wednesday for wearing a fleece coat in a seemingly air-conditioned room while urging residents to ‘save energy’ amid a historic heat wave.

‘CA is experiencing an unprecedented heatwave [sic]. This will be the hottest & longest on record for September,’ Newsom said in a tweet Tuesday, as temperatures soared into triple digits in some parts of the state.

‘Our energy grid is being pushed to its max. The risk of outages is real. We need everyone to double down to save energy after 4 p.m. today,’ Newsom went on.

In an accompanying video, Newsom told Golden Staters to ‘Pre-cool your home. Run your conditioner earlier,’ while wearing a zipped-up black fleece coat and baseball cap.

Newsom pretended his home was at 78°, which he called “cool.”  Suuure he was wearing a fleece jacket and hat in that kind of heat.

Stop for a moment, gentle readers, to consider the hypocrisy.  No state imports more of its electricity than California—around 25%.  California is banning all but electric vehicles, yet is building no new power plants, and can’t possibly build enough windmills and solar plants to provide power for even their 2022 needs.  The electrical power they have available now isn’t enough to meet current needs, yet they’re plunging boldly ahead to that “clean energy future” they claim to be inevitable?  They’re already telling people not to charge their electric cars.  How’s that going to work when Californians have millions and millions more to charge?

Remember the plight of those cities without power for a week I mentioned earlier?  Imagine a state full of terribly entitled people without power.

We’re engaged in an ongoing battle between those who live in the real world of equal opportunity, not equal outcomes, and those that live in the ‘ought to be” world of equity and equal outcomes.  A world of producers versus takers, of people who design, build and distribute versus people who want what they want, right now, and if they don’t get it, will take it. People who think ahead and plan for the possible versus people who don’t plan and don’t care what’s possible.  They just want it, and right now, and it’s someone else’s job to give it to them. True, expensive handbags and flat screen TVs aren’t exactly survival supplies, but that’s equity for you.

It’s interesting that those living in the “ought to be” world always accuse those living in the real world of intending to do or doing terrible things.  On closer examination, they’re projecting, accusing realists of doing precisely what they intend to do or are already doing.

I blame much of it on the fact that a growing number of Americans aren’t readers.  Oh, we are, as a society, pretty much universally, sort of literate, though like shooting, literacy is a perishable skill, and I’ve been watching it perish, slowly, for decades.  What good is literacy if one doesn’t read, doesn’t exercise the brain, build new neural connections, make new connections in experience, ability, logic and thoughtfulness?

Another disturbing trend is the exaltation of schooling over education.  Far too many Americans are extensively and lengthily schooled, and far too often in topics of no practical use.  Their “knowledge” is applied only to the destruction of the works of people far greater than themselves, not in maintaining or building the infrastructure that gives us the leisure to enjoy the arts.  They are credentialed and qualified only to “oversee” people who are educated with knowledge of history, human nature, and things, people who can work with their hands and minds, and who, guided by reality, can quickly adapt and survive.

In the interests of political advantage—and sheer hatred–race is being used to divide us, to keep us at each other’s throats.  Only it’s not working quite as they intend.  Normal Americans aren’t racists.  They never have been.  That generation died long ago, and their prejudices with them.  The triumphs of the Civil Rights movement were among America’s great accomplishments, and all Americans of good will and actual education are glad for them. But above all, political games and racial hate mongering are conceits of advanced, prosperous nations.  In less prosperous nations, they make the streets run with blood.  Wanna be revolutionaries like BLM and Antifa don’t last long and their ends are fast, gruesome and unlamented.

So.  The electricity goes out across town.  We rely on competent, educated people monitoring power delivery systems to recognize the failure, to determine, at least preliminarily, the possible cause, and to call out technicians, people who know not only how to manipulate tools, but the theory behind the machines and electronics they fix, the physics.  To fix something, one needs to understand how it’s supposed to fit together, and how it’s supposed to function.  All of these people remain employed, earning and spending money, which provides jobs for countless others, because they demonstrate ability and competence day after day.

The technicians only get credentials when they’ve demonstrated consistent ability and competence, which is what any apprenticeship system is designed to produce.  It is they that will go out into the field in any and all weather conditions, determine the cause of the outage, and immediately repair it, or report back what equipment and parts they’ll need.  Having what they need, they’ll fix things, and mirable dictu (wonderful to tell), power is restored and normal American life proceeds after a minor inconvenience.  Unless of course, you live in California, which is speeding toward the abyss at the speed of the clean energy future.

Think, gentle readers, what is necessary to maintain our standard of living?  Without realizing it, we need more than basic reading, writing and math skills, and the neural connections and vital habits learning, maintaining and improving them built, to function in daily life.  Oh, but we have iPads and iWatches and computers of all kinds to do that sort of thing!  Right.  And if we produce generations of the credentialed rather than the capable, of people who live in the world of “ought to be” rather than reality, who is going to design, build and maintain those wonderful devices?  Who will produce the materials?  Who will transport them to the factories no one knows how to design, build or maintain?  The Chinese?

The power has gone off in America.  What comes next?  Life will devolve to a state of nature within days, weeks at the most.  It will be worse in cities, where everything depends on electricity, and there is no wood—other than homes and furniture—to be harvested for cooking.  Multi-story buildings will become unlivable within days.

There is no running water—no pumps to provide water pressure—so no tap water, and no flushing toilets.  There’s no electricity with which to cook or boil water, and no gas, which also needs pressure to get to homes.  No showers, no baths, nothing with which to clean clothing or bedding.  Disease from contaminated water quickly becomes rampant.

People try to flee to safe places, but what place is safe?  They have only the range in their gas tanks, and who wants to be stuck on a highway in the middle of nowhere?  All refrigerated food spoils within days.  There are no food deliveries, and no communications.  Yes, cell phones rely on electricity to power the infrastructure that allows them to work, and of course, there is no way to charge them.  Bye bye iPhones and iWatches and iPads.

There is no heating, no air conditioning.  Cold will kill most quickly and in the highest numbers.  Suicide rates will skyrocket.

You have a generator?  Great, until your fuel runs out, because there isn’t going to be any more, and remember, no power to pump it out of the tanks of gas stations, so whatever is in those tanks will quickly go bad anyway. You didn’t know that? That’s why we have a nationwide system of drillers, refineries, tanker trucks, railroads, pipelines, gas stations, etc. to keep a supply of fresh fuel in the tanks of local gas stations.

Money?  It exists in the computers of your bank, and the banks your employer or retirement system use.  Whatever cash you have will be instantly worthless, no more than kindling if one can find firewood..  We’ll be bartering within days.  Ammunition will be a major medium of trade.  What food exists in grocery stores will be quickly bartered away, or stolen.  There won’t be more, not for a long, long time, if ever.

Smart people will band together for mutual defense and survival.  Others, without skills or the habits necessary for survival, will try to take whatever the educated have.  The schooled won’t survive long.

Law enforcement?  The schooled will have succeeded, finally, in reimagining the police, in reimagining them out of existence.  All the systems upon which civilized people rely are gone.  Oh, there will be order of a sort, but law will depend on who has the strength and will to impose it.  There will be no jails, which are as much to protect criminals from the public as the reverse.  Who is going to want to feed, clothe and care for criminals?  Justice will be swift and final, its final application, a shovel.

People in need of medication to preserve life will die quickly.  Those on meds to prevent potential life threatening conditions will die not long thereafter.  There will be no x-rays, no MRIs, no CAT scans, none of the artificial joints, artificial lenses for eyes, none of the medical procedures that extend life and make it livable.  Minor injuries and bacterial infections will kill millions.  The days of plagues that kill millions will have returned.  Life expectancy will drop decades.

Oh, and all those people who have tormented Normal Americans, the schooled, self-imagined elite who exercised power over God and gun clingers, Deplorables and MAGA Republicans, will experience the brief, and harsh reality of the conditions they so carelessly created.   A lack of fossil fueled power will be the ultimate class leveler.  Guess that “clean energy future” won’t be so inevitable after all.  Whoever survives to write history probably won’t reflect kindly on those Climate Change warriors.

Think of everything we take for granted, and how each and every little bit of the conveniences of modern American life find their way into our homes and hands, that give us the time and space to think about how easily it can all be taken away.  Then think of how about half of our society wants very much to live in the world of “ought to be.”  If they succeed, if pronouns supplant production, if electric vehicles are mandated and the electricity to recharge them and provide all our other electric needs is “ought to be” rather than real—electricity has to come from somewhere, and not from unicorn farts and fairy dust–if our credentialed, schooled elite are allowed to employ foreign policy that assumes Islamist savages give a damn about what infidels think of them, one day the power will go off, and there will be no one to turn it back on.  Oh sure, it ought to be on, but reality tends to intrude on “ought to be,” unless those living in “ought to be” are allowed to force us all to live in their deranged, dysfunctional fantasy world, in which case we pretend everything is fine because it ought to be–for a short, ugly time.

Maybe the stakes of the culture war are higher than we thought?  Maybe it all can be taken away in the blink of an eye.  Maybe, just maybe, we ought to concentrate on what really matters, on what it means to be an American, and on what we need to do to make American citizenship, once more, the most valuable commodity in the world.  Maybe, just maybe, we ought to concentrate on education–never schooling–and real reality.

History reverberates with the screams of those who didn’t.