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The Blowtorch Summer: A Prelude to a Dark Winter II
From:
Albert Goldson --  Cerulean Council Albert Goldson -- Cerulean Council
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Saturday, May 29, 2021

 

 

Source: Wallpaper Flare
Evermore people are enthusiasticallyembracing greater freedom of movement with the arrival of warm weather andnationwide loosening of restrictions in public venues due to increased vaccinationsand falling Covid positive rates. For these brief few blissful weeks it mightseem like the Old Normal good old days déjà vu even amongst the “rubble” of aplethora of permanently closed businesses and leisure venues.

As the pandemic recedesto the background of mainstream media and inoculated people’s consciousness,the emerging brutal reality is that certain dynamics are converging that willdefine this New Normal post-pandemic era for the next several years.

Hyper Inflation &Meteorological Madness

The “super cycle” pricesurge in raw materials and commodities are raging through the system and are alreadyadversely impacting the cost of all consumer items due to a severe supply &demand imbalance.

With respect to food emergingsevere droughts globally will continue to super-charge food prices not only forthis spring and summer rather through 2022 because droughts are impacting next year’splanting season.

The followingcomparative charts presented by the US Drought Monitor underscores the severityof the crisis-in-the-making that could lead to a national crisis. The year-on-yearchart provides disturbing comparisons of drought conditions in May 2021 (first chart)to May 2020 (second chart) – a mere one year apart.

 

Drought conditions inthe US May 19, 2020:


In North America these severe droughts are adversely impacting thebread baskets of the US and Canada. According to US Drought Monitor, droughthas adversely impacted 88% of the US West in 2020 compared to 40% in 2020against limited water irrigation.

The California snowpack is a mere 4% or normal and the bigreservoirs are at less than 50% capacity. Furthermore the West, particularlyCalifornia, is vulnerable to another season of severe firestorms, nature’sscorched earth policy.

The severe drought crisisis global causing agricultural havoc. The Food andAgriculture Organization of the UN 6 May 2021 reported the 11thconsecutive month of food price increases.

One overlooked fact isthat climate change has been used as a convenient excuse for water insecuritywhich has increasingly imperiled California and the US West for decades.Historically this region has experienced dry seasons and droughts. But the region’sdwindling water supplies are due to the explosive economic development through populationand industrial growth that ranks California en par with the same population andGDP as Italy.

Hurricane Season

On the opposite end ofthe meteorological spectrum the Atlantic Meteorological Oceanographic Library,the research laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration organization,has provided their assessment of projected and intensity of hurricanes thisseason as depicted in the following chart entitled Unpredictable Danger:Hurricane Seasons Since 1967.

According to theirforecast they predict 6-10 hurricanes this year with 3-5 of them to be become majorhurricanes rated Category 3 or higher.

Ironically the onset of the hurricane season provides a deluge of rainfallin most areas that don’t suffer from water insecurity - nature’s perverse grossmisallocation of resources.


These intense storms willalso disrupt the fragile supply chain for goods & services as highways,roads, regional power grids will be compromised.

Starvation in the BreadBasket

The following aredynamics that will exacerbate the explosive increase in food prices with actualfood shortages, not just logistical problems.

The continuing laborshortages at food processing plants and truck drivers to haul these food goodsto supermarkets present another kink in the supply chain’s critical path.Furthermore some drivers refuse to haul goods because higher gas prices haveresulted in loss of revenue for the haul. Exacerbating the risk is the shortageof spare parts.

Many large agribusinesscompanies such as Kroger are closing food stores in the midst of increased foodinsecurity for millions of citizens. According to their spokespersons, theclosings are due to those supermarkets’ poor financial performance.Interestingly not only are those supermarkets located in poor communities,their elimination will create additional food deserts forcing the community eitherto spend monies for transportation in search of healthy food or purchase junkfood from local businesses.

An alternative source forthese poorer communities is food banks. However they are close to the breakingpoint in meeting demand and will collapse should food sources dry up.

In a potential prescient scene from the dystopic classic filmalmost a half century ago SoylentGreen (1973) we could see riots at these food banksand distribution centers sites when there is an announcement that the foodinventory is exhausted.

For the wealthy, well-prepared or the clever, one can still enjoy anatural, healthy meal as depicted in SoylentGreen with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson.

New Army of Homeless Families | End of Eviction Protections

On or about 30 June many states are issuing eviction proceedingsagainst residents who have not paid rent. This might create a new army ofhomeless people and families whose only fault was working in the ‘wrong’industry and job when the pandemic arrived. The following article entitled EmergencyBans on Evictions and Other Tenant Protections Related to Coronavirus provide a comprehensive explanation and charts by state concerningthis matter.

Grid Vulnerability

Most people think of power grids becoming overloaded during extrememeteorological conditions combined with high demand and more recentlycyber-attacks. However physical attacks have occurred as far back as2014.

The Wall Street Journal article dated 5 February 2014 entitled Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential forDomestic Terrorism when a San Jose substationwas attacked for almost 20 minutes by a group of gunmen. The short embeddedvideo within the article provides a comprehensive overview of the attack andsubsequent follow-up investigation that went nowhere.

Officials have revealed that a physical attack on a substation isfar more effective in bringing down the grid than a cyber-attack because itinvolves the destruction of hard to replace specialized equipment.

Chokepoints are Choking Economies

·        In February a freakish arcticstorm literally froze Texas operations, a leading energy producer and hub, forseveral days.

·        In March there was the unprecedentedshort-term blockage of the Suez Canal by a super-size container ship, acritical global commercial waterway.

·        In May a cyber-criminal groupheld the US East Coast hostage with a ransomware attack that shut down theColonial pipeline.

The next major event may not be short-lived or immediatelyrecoverable as the aforementioned ones. For this reason it could result in anurban security crisis, a different type of pandemic that cannot be resolvedwith a vaccine. It may be a merely question of time that another event couldbreak the proverbial camel’s back.

Violent Crime

The following chart entitled 2020 Saw Unprecedented Murder Spike in Major US Cities provided by New Orleans crime analyst Jeff Asher, compares thepercentage change in homicides from 2019 to 2020.

The report added: “The U.S. alsoexperienced its most violent year in decades with an unprecedented rise inhomicides. The Gun Violence Archive reported that more than 19,000 people diedin shootings or firearm-related incidents in 2020, the highest figure in overtwo decades.”

Updates for America’s two largest cities by comparing the firstquarter of 2020 to 2021, shooting victims rose 43% in Chicago and 78.6% in NewYork with just the borough of Bronx increasing 165.7%!

The following chart provided by the FBI entitled How Americans Are Murdered (2019) examinesthe particulars of how Americans are murdered with firearms, not surprisingly,dominating the methods used:

As the economy worsens the most disturbing upward trend on the“street” level will be the following:

·        Mass Shootings: As jobs shrink those who are laid off are at risk of becominghomeless, distraught or mentally unstable (with or without their medicationsdue to lack of health benefits) and violently take out their frustrations inthe most heinous ways at their former place of employment and/or residence.

·        Domestic Violence: The cracking of the already fragile family unit will result ingreater physical violence, including murder, in the home. Because of theworsening economy women will be unable to afford to leave and move elsewhereunless they can seek sanctuary with family and friends.

·        Random Street Violence: The reduction in public health services will result in evermorecitizens unable to secure medications and other social services. Cast adrift onthe streets, their mental instability will only worsen as they become desperateand aggressive.

·        Petty Crime/Shoplifting: Although there are jobs available for the unemployed they payminimum wage or slightly above which doesn’t allow them to rent a cheapapartment. With “food & shelter” unaffordable the homeless populationincreases exponentially.

Disincentives to Work with Incentives to Riot

This may seem contradictory yet the government’s generous extensionof unemployment benefits on top of stimulus monies disincentivizes the workingpopulation to seek employment. For this reason businesses are suffering fromworker shortages. For certain industries such as warehousing, they are alreadyaggressively installing high-tech automation which not only maintain operationsbut replaces most workers while maintaining a much lower overhead. Once the unemploymentbenefits end far more workers will be on the short end of the employmentmusical chairs game and fuel the upward crime trends.

Summer Blowtorch Weather | Mob Mindset

After the short-lived party, hot and probably hotter than normal weatherwill push desperate people to do desperate things. The vintage-aged andvulnerable grid could result in blackouts, rolling blackouts and brownouts.Food will become a luxury for many including the dispossessed middle classwho’ll join their lower socio-economic brethren and engage in whateveractivities necessary for the purposes of survival.

When it comes to survival, even the good citizens will resort toextreme violence if challenged coming between them and whatever they needparticularly food. In 1906, AlfredHenry Lewis, an investigative journalist, lawyer and novelist, stated, “Thereare only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.”

From a demographic perspective the coddled Millennials, GenerationX and Y have no real-life experience of the street violence and warpedeconomies of the 1970s and 1980s. Self-absorbed and entitled, psychologicallysoft vs earlier battle-hardened generations they are disconnected from theadvice of their Boomer parents and relatives who are the living memories ofthat arduous era.

Furthermore even the mainstream and social media will not be immuneas journalists fall into that youngish demographic by failing to communicatethe daily and long-term challenges to their readership. In other words withouta reference of how to harden one’s mindset the psychological stress to copewill be enormous.

Globally local enforcement has been overwhelmed by increasinglyviolent protests. Domestically they are legally neutered by recently passedlaws that make them personally liable for any lawsuits claimed by a civilian.Depending on the country security reinforcement whether the military, NationalGuard or National Police, greater firepower, more lethality. For exampleFrance’s National Police is answerable directly to the Minister of Interior.Finally, protests can be triggered by faraway incidents such as global protestsover George Floyd’s death.

Initiating Your Prepper State of Emergency

The government and mainstream media have aggressively pushedforward the narrative that the worst is over and that the New Normal will notbe that different from the Old Normal while eschewing economic red flags suchas inflation, real estate bubbles, rising violent crime, among others. The simultaneousgrowth of these trends represent an unstoppable momentum that will notdisappear in the short-term.

The surfeit amount of information provided by the long-term,pre-pandemic, online prepper community to the general public has not goneunheeded however far too many people are in denial that chaos is dancing on theprecipice and can be triggered by either a domestic or international incident.

From a personal perspective preparedness is key going forward notonly through this spring and summer rather well into the winter months. Yourpersonal state of emergency should always proceed the government’s state ofemergency because the only person ultimately responsible for you and yourfamily’s safety is you.

  

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 


 

 

 



The dystopic perfect storm is unfolding in India withrecord-breaking daily new Covid cases and deaths that may continue unabated throughthe rest of 2021 buffeting the South Asian country of 1.4 billion inhabitants.

A little over a year ago on 17 April 2020 I published anarticle entitled IndiaBracing for the Covid-19 Viral Contagion which articulated the multitude ofpowerful interwoven factors that will compound the pandemic’s spread, depth andduration which are being played out as forecast resulting in untold humansuffering.

This present-day article reintroduces those factors with updatedsupporting charts and documentation to provide a comprehensive overview of thiscalamity. The factors discussed are as follows:

·        Socio-Economic Demographics

·        Healthcare Primer

·        Pollution

·        Food Insecurity

·        India’s Civil, Political & Press Freedoms

·        Dystopic Socio-Political Fallout

 

Socio-Economic Demographic Primer

According to the 22 February 2020 IMF report, India has theworld’s 5th largest economy as measured by nominal GDP. Nonethelessit faces a daunting task in containing Covid-19 virus because of its socio-economicprofile, public health infrastructure, shortfall in medical preparedness, pollutedenvironment and government whose policy and decision makers are politicalloyalists rather than experienced technocrats and specialists.

According to the June 2017 report India’s Smart Cities Missions these are some critical data. Of the totalpopulation of 1.4 billion:

·        380 million are urbanized (31%).

·        833 million are rural (69%).

·        632 million live in poverty – 25% of the world’spoor.

·        Almost two-thirds of statutory towns in Indiahave ‘slums’ and a total of 13.75 million households live in them.

·        About 36 per cent of households in thesesettlements do not have basic facilities of electricity, tap water, andsanitation within their premises.

·        India also records the world’s largest number ofhomeless persons (at least three million in urban areas according toindependent estimates).”

·        Historically there is a large rural to urbanmigration in search for work.

Water scarcity [especially potable] and urban density by thelower socio-economic classes including many migrant workers, make it difficultto maintain sanitary conditions, good personal hygiene and social distancing.

Health Care Primer

The following are key points discussed which I paraphrasewith respect to India’s health care dilemmas from 12 June 2019 article entitledIndia’sAiling Health Sector in the publication The Diplomat:

·        Over 50% of healthprofessionals in India — including doctors, nurses, paramedics, and midwives —do not have proper qualifications while 20 percent of adequately qualifieddoctors are not part of the current workforce. Of the currently working healthprofessionals, around 25 percent do not possess the necessary qualifications aslaid down by professional councils.

·        The geographical distribution is a problem with two-thirds ofdoctors, nurses, and midwives working in urban areas where only 29 percent ofIndians live. In many villages, the density of healthcare professionals lagsbehind many African countries.

·        India’s low spending on healthcare. Despite being the world’s fifthlargest economy, public health spending has languished at under 1.5 percent ofGDP, one of the lowest rates in the world. For comparison, the United Kingdomshelled out 9.6 percent of its GDP in 2017 on health. The United States’ healthexpenditure is 18 percent of GDP.

·        The high cost ofmedicines in which an overwhelming 70 percent of healthcare expenses in Indiaare paid by Indian patients out of their own pockets, one of the highest ratesin the world.

Not only has the paucity of testing kits and testing resultedin the grossly under-stated numbers of infected, there are fewer medicaldoctors per 1,000 inhabitants despite India having the world’s 5thlargest GDP and few health equipment & supply resources to grapple with theviral conflagration.

Far more embarrassing is that India is the leading producerof generic vaccines yet is having enormous difficulties in producing enoughanti-Covid vaccines for domestic distribution which will unnecessarily prolongthe crisis. At present only 3% of the population has been inoculated.

The following 19 March 2019 chart entitled TheCountries with the Highest Density of Doctors provided by OECD highlightsthe dearth of doctors in India per 1,000 inhabitants:

Pollution + Novel Virus = Lethal Combination

India’s high pollution serves as an accelerant for thespread of Covid-19 amongst a wider demographic. According to the IQAir Report, India has 14 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world.In the following chart entitled Study:Pollution Kills 8.3 Million People Annually from the Global Alliance OnHealth and Pollution published 20 December 2019.

The high Covid-19 infection rate for infants and youngpeople should not be a mystery to the medical establishment and researchersbecause for decades from birth the autoimmune systems of Indian urbanites hasbeen compromised manifesting in underlying health issues such as hypertensionand respiratory problems.

Specific to cities the following chart provided by IQAir is entitledIndia Has The Most Polluted Cities on Earth of which 14 are Indian, 3 arePakistani and two are Chinese.


The explosive conflagration how Covid-19 is spreadingthroughout Asia can be viewed in the following chart entitled NewCoronavirus Waves Sweep Through Asia provided by John Hopkins Universityvia Our World in Data:

This viral conflagration specificto India vs the world can be contributed to the aforementioned environmentaland healthcare shortfalls. The following chart entitled IndiaEmerges as the World’s Covid19 Hotspot, provided by Our World in Data providesa powerful visual image of the present-day trend

Food Insecurity

India’s food supply chain is a double-edged sword. Indiarequires millions of highly labor-intensive work for harvesting andtransporting foodstuffs. However the methods in combatting a pandemic throughlockdowns and social distancing threatens India’s ability to feed itscitizenry. The Wall Street Journal article 8 April 2020 India’sFood Supply Chain Frays as Workers Stay Home, provides a background summaryon how India feeds itself:

·        India’s food industry is highly fragmentedconsisting of millions of small farmers, selling through millions of middlemenwho then deliver to millions of tiny shops.

·        Every food industry is labor intensive includingthe wheat industry, high mechanized in western countries.

·        Already there are fewer farm workersparticularly for the current wheat harvest), fewer trucks arriving to load anddeliver foodstuffs to distribution warehouses and fewer warehouse laborers tounload and reload foodstuffs for local delivery.

·        The entire process is labor-intensive becausewheat is harvested by hand, sacks of foodstuffs are unloaded and loaded ontrucks using lines of men not forklifts, and local deliveries of perishableitems are done by bicycle, not refrigerated trucks.

In summary the pandemic has made a robust food industry thatprovides employment to millions into a fragile one - an industry dependent onmillions of people for face-to-face transactions making social distancingimpossible to maintain.

With hundreds of thousands infected and additional prolongedlockdowns, it begs the question as to not only how India will feed itself butagainst a commodity price “super cycle” which has dramatically raised the priceof food stuffs.

Suppression of Democratic Freedoms

In the world’s largest democracy by population, PrimeMinister Modi’s government is trying to suppress criticism of the government’shandling of the pandemic by using emergency powers laws. They are specifically targetingTwitter because of its extensive use in India for communication. Acomprehensive overview of the battle between government and freedom ofexpression is in the Reuters article dated 26 April 2021 entitled IndiaAsks Twitter To Take Down Some Tweets Critical Of Its Covid-19 Handling.

According to Freedom House, India was classified as only“partly free” with respect to state of freedom for access to political rightsand civil liberties. The following chart entitled TheState of Freedom in the World provides a global view.

In lockstep with the deteriorating state of freedom is thedeteriorating state of press freedoms including social media. Thefollowing chart provided by Reporters Without Borders entitled The State ofWorld Press Freedom classified India as a “difficult situation”, a profoundfall from grace for India unlike Russia and Brazil which have the sameclassification but that are far younger democracies still hobbled by longhistories of autocracies and dictatorships.


Dystopic Denouement

The most disturbing trend is indicated in those last twocharts in which state freedom is classified as “partly free” and press freedomsare classified as “difficult situation” which represent just one step from awayfrom the classification of autocratically ruled China. This means that the democraticprotections afforded to the Indian citizenry and the press have been degraded tothe point of being a whisper away from de facto autocratic rule.

As the viral surge worsens Modi, the quiet megalomaniac, isalready losing popular support. According to Morning Consult, a US data group,Modi’s approval rating has declined precipitously from 74% in late March to 65%as of 4 May. If such a trend continues then Modi’s re-election odds for the2024 national elections will decrease considerably. For this reason he may imposedraconian measures to retain his political power in the form of an indefinitestate of emergency or worse.

Already the underlying dystopic elements are in play totrigger a potential violent socio-political fallout – perhaps widespread civilunrest - particularly against the backdrop of the Modi administration’s aggressivepre-pandemic discriminatory policies against non-Hindus and enthusiastically enforcedwith violence by a de facto militia of true believers.

If India should collapse into the depths of autocracy, alongwith China’s 1.4 billion population, the two autocracies would represent almost40% of the global population of 7.4 billion and leave few countries in Asia,notably Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore as strong democracies.


© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

Image from Time Magazine
Demographics | Minorities Defined

For the purpose of this article on workforce diversityperspectives, the word “minority” will be used to describe any worker who is anon-Caucasian and/or female of any racial/ethnic background, non-heterosexual andhandicapped.

Workforce Diversity | Failure to Launch

Despite the ground-breaking 1960s legislation that legallyprovided greater opportunities for minorities to obtain higher education andconsideration for employment in private industry, the comparative present-day,21st century figures are abysmal by any measure. If the governmentprovided an equally favorable financial or tax-based legislation for any otherreason and a private entity was unable to markedly increase profits and marketshare, the CEO and upper-management would have been fired.

The Curse of Educational Finance

When one barrier is lowered, such as formerly discriminatoryadmissions practices in higher education, another is erected such risingcollege tuition that is unaffordable to most minorities except withhard-to-secure generous scholarships or fellowships.

The following chart entitled Average Total Debt ofGraduates Who Took Out Loans provided by US News, provides the disturbingincrease in tuition costs over a 10-year period from 2009-2019.

Supporting the challenges of paying for a US universityeducation the following chart entitled TheUS Has The Highest Tuition Fees provided by the Organization for EconomicCooperation and Development (OECD) and provided by Statista, an onlinestatistical firm:


 

Furthermore there has been an emergence of a different typeof student loan financing entitled “income-share agreement”. As articulated in TheNew York Times article dated 25 March 2021 entitled ANovel Way to Finance School May Penalize Students from HBCUs, Study Finds,the loan is paid through the deduction of a pre-established percentage of astudent’s income after graduation for a fixed period of time. In thisunregulated field the interest rates are not determined by the individualstudent’s ability to pay rather based on the collective of students in theircommunity which means an African-American student might pay more interest thanhis Caucasian counterpart even if they have the same paying job.

For this reason many minorities have no choice but to pursuean undergraduate degree from less known and less prestigious universities withconsiderably lower tuition rather than apply to an expensive top-tieruniversity. The post-graduation reality is that top companies strongly prefergraduates from top-tier universities which eliminates a large pool of intellectuallyqualified minorities.

Tuition costs represent almost insurmountable financialpeaks. If one managed to climb Mount McKinley for an undergraduate degree, K2is the graduate program. The number of scholarships and fellowships are so fewas to be meaningless to make a difference. Let’s not forget the scandal inwhich wealthy Caucasian parents, many of them celebrities, paid far more to a“coach” to get their children into elite universities than the tuition itself.The practice is probably more widespread than reported.

For this reason, the pipeline of qualified minoritycandidates for upper management positions are dramatically dropping to atrickle because a graduate degree is a perquisite for the next level. It’s notthat there’s a lack of minority candidates with experience and brains, rather thepipeline has already been deliberately sabotaged at the source.

As Dr. WPS Sidhu, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Schoolof Professional Studies for Global Affairs, and panelist stated in the 7February 2021 in the “Confronting Race & Colonialism in World Affairs”webinar, “Inclusive in what? Classrooms are a place of privilege.”

The Corporate Serpent’s Silver Tongue | “Divide &Conquer”

It’s an open secret from the street to the penthouse that thereare highly educated and experienced minority employees whose progress up thecorporate ladder and careers have plateaued disproportionately to their Caucasiancounterparts because private industry has deemed it so.

Even the definition of “minority” has widened the field toinclude the physically handicapped (of all races) and women. Insidiously this hasincreased the pool of Caucasian candidates under this revised definition andeffectively “crowded out” and considerably reduced the odds forAfrican-American and Hispanics because of the limited available upper-levelpositions. For this reason a Caucasian female and Caucasian handicapped or Caucasiantransgender person “qualifies” under this definition leaving African-Americanand Hispanics on the outside looking in through an agonizingly transparentbulletproof glass ceiling.

The pool of non-Caucasian talent was never lacking ratherthe composition. For several decades the influx of thousands of Chinesestudents – over 200,000 in the US – has been a lucrative cash cow for highereducation institutions who pay the full tuition price. As a double bonus these highereducation institutions can statistically claim that they are achieving theirobjectives of minority enrollment. Meanwhile American-born students,specifically African-American, Native American and Hispanics without such sovereignstate financial support are still in the back of the bus.

The failure of diversity programs has statistical support througha study by The Financial Times in their 1 April 2021 article entitled Shareof Black Employees In Senior Us Finance Roles Falls Despite Diversity Push,as presented by the media platform Remarkboard. [The above link also includes apodcast of the article]. In brief “African-Americans account for 13% of allfinance staff and the sector’s biggest ethnic minority.” However in senior jobstheir share fell from 2.9% to 2.6% from 2007 to 2018. Meanwhile there are moreexecutives of Asian descent in senior manager positions even though there are50% more African-Americans workers in this sector.

The definition of “minority” is more inclusive which hasincreased the pie, but there are thinner slices for certain minorities specificallyfor African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans because corporations arefavoring certain minorities over others.

Like the Covid-19 virus variants, higher education andprivate industry have their legal variants – a rebranding - to maintain thestatus quo and blatantly use “diversity theater”, the tactic of recruiting,hiring and promoting “the best & brightest” amongst minority candidates. Thesefarcical beau geste public relations campaigns have historically beenreactive and legally defensive, never proactive and socially progressive afterprotests on discriminatory practices began literally knocking on their doors - andsometimes smashing their windows. Symbolically the exterior windows of theirvenues are often broken and replaced but the interior bulletproof glassceiling never cracks.

This is why corporate have disingenuously supported BlackLives Matter (BLM) shamelessly after-the-fact by tasking their behavioralspecialists in public relations to construct a customized social umbrellaliability policy with the intensification of protests, destroyed property andpossible boycotts. This damage control campaign featured slick public relationsproductions brimming with mostly smiling non-Caucasian faces that supposedly confirmtheir commitment to diversity.

High profile positions occupied by minorities such as formerPresident Obama and select Fortune 500 CEOs are notable but merely an illusionand clever imagery misdirection as signs of progress towards a nation of meritocracy.But composition of minorities in the “bread & butter” governmental and corporatedecision-making positions are unchanged while controlling the trickle ofqualified minority candidates for top level consideration.

Because the spigot of this pipeline restricts the number ofqualified minorities available to vie for upper-level positions, the present-dayfew in number is not a threat. Those that don’t make the cut to the C-suite are“kettled” into pre-designated departments established as the new corporatediversity work camps, highly paid but with no decision-making “teeth” orresources to accomplish the department’s mission in search of not just unicorns,rather purple unicorns.

The creation of diversity positions and departments is anadditional administrative layer for the purposes of misdirection andobfuscation of the corporate personnel structural problem.

Even when those minority candidates get on the so-called“short list” for final interviews, final selection at this level isqualitative, not quantitative because those on the “short list” are alreadyqualified. A perfect case study is the exquisite theater of the absurddemonstrated by the continued hiring of Caucasian NFL coaches despite thesurfeit of qualified and experienced minority candidates.

For this reason the simmering frustration and anger ofminorities continue unabated and spillover to the streets as the pandemic hasexposed the blatant and open governmental and private industry discrimination, corruptionand record-breaking inequities as quantified by the Gini-index.

WORKPLACE | MINORITIES’ DOUBLE BIND

One standard practice for discouraging minority promotionsto the upper-management ranks is unethical and discriminatory practices that aredifficult to prove. It’s the corporate practice similar to law enforcement’stactic of arresting a suspect who’s a minority under dubious circumstances. Althoughhe’s eventually acquitted of all charges, he now has an indelible arrest recordwhich prevents him from future employment consideration.

In the corporate work this creation of obstacles forpromotions begins at the lower levels which represent the double binds. On onehand the supervisor gives a minority worker an assignment with a specificobjective. During the project the worker takes the initiative and achievesbeyond the objective of the project without utilizing more resources thanallotted and well within any financial or legal risks.

Instead of congratulating the worker, the supervisorreprimands the worker not for exceeding the objective, rather bynot following instructions and halting at the original objective. A slightvariation is reprimanding the worker for trying to “reinvent the wheel” as thepresent system operates fine.

This perceived micro-“insubordination” might be communicatedon performance reviews stating with the misleading comment that the workerdoesn’t follow instructions despite the huge corporate benefits provided by theworker.

On the flip side the same minority worker who reaches theobjective and halts is “reprimanded” because he didn’t take theinitiative and achieve more with the allotted resources and within thefinancial and legal risks. Again the variation on this undeserved criticism bythe supervisor is that one can’t continue to do things the same way and must becreative and innovative to achieve a greater competitive edge.

Once again this micro-“insubordination” is memorialized inthe performance review stating that the worker is intelligent but fails to takethe initiative. You can feel the discriminatory presence but cannot provide adefinitive legal proof.

The performance review has always been an onerous and fatallyflawed politically-laden tool, even when contested, that determines theemployee’s company-specific and often career path. The performance reviewdocument, counter-signed by management at various levels, is the most hated andodorous pile of corporate excrement ever created.

This is one of many clever tactics that enables upper-managementto forcibly sabotage the career trajectory of talented minorities. Instead theyshuffle minorities laterally between departments, a perverse corporatepurgatory, which is a far easier practice to justify nowadays as corporationshave flattened their hierarchy thus conveniently reducing availableupper-management positions.

The No-Win Double Bind Challenge | Career Check Mate

Quite a number of these minorities have professionally anddiplomatically challenged their supervisor’s judgements by requesting them toexplain the differences. Supervisors are flummoxed and tongue-tied becausethey’ve never been challenged in this manner. Just by engaging in thisprofessional query is a career killer within the organization which takesvarious forms such as being sent off to corporate Siberia – literallyphysically set apart from everyone else – assigned to less challengingassignments. These are the consequences one pays for greasing the corporatemask that falls off and exposes their unfiltered and brutally ugly intentions.

CORPORATE OBJECTIVES

The reality is that the corporate supreme priority is notprofit rather power & control which goes against the interests of theshareholders, customers and community. Profit is important but is incorporatedinto the shadows of power & control in a way that they’re almostindistinguishable. But when forced to make a distinct choice, power & controlis the priority since profits can be regained later – a near-term cost of doingbusiness on their terms - while loss of power & control is far moredifficult to recoup.

Corporations maintain the status quo by engaging in creativepersonnel accounting by shuffling minorities to the back of the bus (backoffice) while including them in the overall head count to assuage governmentsand activist groups. If they hold up in public audits and demonstrate somemeasure of “best efforts” through recruitment then legally they’re protectedeven though they’re breaking the spirit of the law.

Cagey Corporate Conspiracies

The pitch-black side of diversity is when a corporationappears to be enlightened by hiring a minority at the highest level such as CEOat the tipping point when the corporation is about to face a crisis such as asuddenly turbulent marketplace.

This pandemic period is a perfect example of extreme stressand turmoil creating the ideal environment for a political set-up. A minority candidateis provided the opportunity to succeed yet lacks the usual resources andsupport in the pre-pandemic era to right a sinking ship which compounds thepossibility of failure. When the firm crashes and burns the minority CEO suddenlybecomes the fall guy and conveniently removed. This trend was astutely articulatedin The NY Times article entitled Womenin Power Are Set Up to Fail, published on 12 December 2008.

The Big Tech Terror on Diversity

Big Tech has become a powerhouse in an astounding shortperiod of time dominating the early 21st century. Its exponentialgrowth and demands for highly-skilled technical workers has resulted in apaucity of minority workers. As with the corporate finance sector, minorityworkers are heavily represented by those of Asian descent.

Interestingly one might assume that the Millennial agedleadership would be more progressive than earlier leadership generations whowere unaccustomed to working and living amongst non-Caucasians Fascinatingly, theMillennial leadership mindset is little altered because minorities are disproportionatelyrepresented possibly lower than during pre-Civil Rights corporate America.

The broader picture and dramatical increase ofdissatisfaction among all tech workers can be viewed in the following chartentitled TechWorkers Unite! provided by Collective Actions in Tech and presented by Statista.

The perverse irony is that Big Tech aggressively marketstheir products & services as unifying and egalitarian yet which are increasinglyprivacy-invasive. Further their steep prices are out of reach of manyminorities particularly during the pandemic when many of these minoritystudents were unable to attend school remotely. For this reason they fell evenfurther behind their counterparts.

How It All Plays Out

Against the backdrop of explosive governmental debt, businessbankruptcies, restructurings and downsizing, there will continue to beconsiderably fewer available middle to-senior level positions for minorities tocompete. The snail’s pace increase in workplace diversity continues to lag furtherbehind the faster paced demographics of a growing educated minority populationin America. This means that the social pot will continue to boil at dangerouslevels while big business waits for sufficient economic recovery and businessconfidence to create opportunities.


© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security.

 

Image from CNN International
The Calm Before the Storm

First the good news. Distribution hiccups vaccinations arecontinuing along while the loosening of social distancing restrictionsthroughout the country results in more commercial openings. Furthermore the newadministration is behaving normally (aka reasonably predictably) while thestock market is enjoying a powerful record-setting upward surge.

Now the bad news. These positive trends represent the calmbefore the storm as powerful undercurrents threaten to derail the economicrecovery as America strives to achieve a modicum of pre-pandemic (new) normalcy.The troika of potential trigger-point events are as follows:

1.   Political Stability: a newly electedelderly president whose mental acuity has been justifiably questioned as farback as his nomination.

2.   Urban Security: the George Floyd trial isa lightning rod for potential urban explosiveness on America’s streets thatmight last for months.

3.   Food Insecurity: this fragile logisticalsystem continues to function under enormous stress and any compromise orbreakdown can result in civil unrest throughout the country.

POLITICAL INSTABILITY

When President Joe Biden officially took office in Januaryhe became the oldest US president in history at 78 years old. Even to anuntrained observer, it’s doubtful that President Biden’s mental acuity meetsthe requirements of a Commander in Chief particularly during the mosttumultuous period of American history since the Civil War. Managing a present-dayhydra-headed crisis would be taxing even for the youngest, most intellectuallyand psychologically robust of former US presidents.

This is not a criticism of Biden’s experience and ability tolead particularly as Obama’s Vice President for 8 years. Rather he’s not theBiden from 12 years ago. His recent physical missteps in boarding Air Force Oneare symbolic of his health concerns. As the elderly elder statesman his abilitymay soon be limited to that of a cardboard cutout, which is not what Americaneeds today. To put it bluntly, he’s the wrong man in the wrong place at thewrong time.

The unspoken truth is that the Biden-Harris duo are notparticularly popular nor widely adored – and this is just among Democrats.Their attempt to recapture former President Obama’s rockstar credibility, statusand magic amongst the Democrats is not forthcoming and never will. Without it,they will struggle mightily to galvanize support and healing amongst America’s badlyfractured political and societal elements.

Because of his elderly condition it would not beunreasonable that Vice President Kamala Harris could assume some or most ofBiden’s responsibilities soon than later. It would not be surprising if the present-dayPresident-Vice President dynamic was initially pre-planned as a dual-leadershipdynamic while Harris undergoes an accelerated succession grooming program.

Should Harris rise to the presidency, whether in a temporaryor permanent capacity, she will face a series of daunting problems, none ofwhich has anything to do with the pandemic or economic recovery:

·        A woman (misogyny).

·        A woman of color (racism).

·        A woman whose parents were immigrants (more racism,nationalism) – accusations that she’s a foreign agent at the highest levels – aTrojan Horse to replace Biden at a moment’s notice.

·        A woman whose husband is Jewish (racism,anti-Semitism) and supported by any number of ludicrous Jewish conspiracytheories.

With respect to the far-right and nationalists, formerPresident Obama was an unacceptable aberration. Should Harris assume the presidencyor assume presidential tasks, her mere presence for the aforementioned reasons wouldsend them over the edge.

Dieppe in DC

How this scenario might play out leads back to the Januaryinsurrection at the Capitol building. Tactically the assault was an overwhelmingsuccess in breaching security and merely a warm-up for things to come. Thelessons learned by the mob which included many experienced (ex)-military, lawenforcement and other security professionals parallels the Allies’ August 1942Dieppe raid in France against Nazi German defenders.

In an historically little-known amphibious operation, the objectivewas to send 10,000 mostly Canadian troops to the northern port of Dieppe,France, hold it for 24 hours, disrupt German operations and return to the UKfor the purposes of intelligence gathering particularly how the Germansrespond. Although many men were lost in this limited pre-Normandy operation,valuable intelligence was obtained on German defenses than enabled the Alliesto adjust and successfully launch D-Day 2 years later.

This doesn’t mean a future assault on the Capital building especiallysince security has been fortified and placed on high alert, rather on any othermunicipal, state or federal building with organized assaults and long-termoccupation. Law enforcement has been struggling with on-going security “operations”on the Northwest urban battlegrounds where the more disenchanted members of thecitizenry are now well-versed and experienced in violent tactics.

GEORGE FLOYD TRIAL | AMERICA’S WEIMAR GERMANY GENESIS

The trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused ofmurdering George Floyd, is heading full speed on the “road to perdition” as yetanother American Shakespearean tragedy potentially on a massive scale. Althoughthis is legally a local matter, the trial has powerful domestic and residualinternational implications that puts the American justice system on trial whichis viewed or perceived as a moral bellwether.

As fictional hedge fund owner Bobby Axelrod in the TV series“Billions” explained, “No one leaves a negotiation happy.” Whatever the verdictall sides will claim that a gross injustice has been perpetuated by the fascistor Communist cabal of elites.

Protests on an unprecedented scale will follow throughoutthe country overwhelming law enforcement, and inevitably the National Guard,lasting for months throughout the summer and early fall.

The new trend is that there may be larger and more directconfrontations between large groups of politically diametrically opposed groupsrecreating a 1920s Weimar Germany in America with an aging late 70s PresidentJoe Biden just as late 70s German President Paul von Hindenburg.

FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN | THE DELICATE LATTICE

This is the proverbial elephant in the room, an emergingdilemma that impacts everyone. The emerging confluence of fragile supplychains, dramatic food price increases far exceeding inflation and food waste againstthe backdrop of massive job losses creates a desperate situation for Americans.The February month-on-month employment figures comparing 2020 to 2021 indicatesthat the US is still short 9.5 million jobs which makes making food purchases amatter of survival, not just clever budgeting.

Global and domestic supply chains woes will continue withstark vulnerabilities despite vaccinations and easing of restrictions. It wasjust as fragile for many years before the pandemic thanks to demands forgreater cost efficiency in providing highly-competitive pricing through “justin time” deliveries.

Disruptive forces such as a pandemic and record-setting meteorologicalstorms severely compromise this delicate lattice of logistical operationscausing extensive delays, increased costs, and eventually a considerable dragon economic recovery.

Back in the day, robust and efficient logistics weretraditionally America’s strength however within a couple of decades it hasbecome it’s Achilles heel.

According to the UN Food Security WorldFood program food insecurity in developing world nearly doubledto 265 million citizens in 2020. Not only are millions of Americans lining upat food banks but also in Western Europe, notably France, Europe’s secondlargest economy after Germany. The societal and health & safetycrisis now parallels those same dilemmas in emerging countries.

The following chart entitled Global FoodPrices on the Uptick provided by the Food & Agricultural Organizationof the UN (FAO) and presented by Statista, an online statistical firm,underscore the shocking spike in food prices which are devastating to thosesuffering through job losses and with limited income.

Furthermore the above chart supports my prescient article ondramatic food price increases published 15 October 2020 entitled TighteningFood Supply Chain to Spike Prices.

Food price increases have been running well ahead ofinflation, often into double-digits. More disturbingly food companies have shrunkthe quantity of food within the same packaging with unchanged prices, far fewerchoices and stubbornly low inventory. The inevitable meteorological disasterssuch as droughts in the food belt and wildfires in California pushed foodprices upward even further. Finally the crisis is exacerbated by store closuresdominated and dictated by agricultural behemoths turning food deserts intowastelands, areas where food availability was unaffordable and now could beunobtainable.

The following chart entitled TheEnormous Scale of Food Waste provided by the United Nations EnvironmentProgram (UNEP) to which the US is behind China and India.


Although China and India occupy the top two positions, itmust be noted that they are the world’s most populous countries each with 1.4 billioncitizens. The more revealing statistic (the figures highlighted in yellow) isthe estimated food waste per capita. For the US when one converts 59 kgs to lbsthe US wastes 130 lbs of food per capita.

Additional figures not in the chart but included in the FoodWaste Index Report 2021 by the UNEP is that the US food service sectorwastes 141 lbs of food per capita and 35 lbs per capita in the retail sector.

For this reason we see the disturbing disconnect betweenAmerica as the world’s breadbasket while millions of Americans suffer from foodinsecurity while still wasting food. It’s like filling your vehicle’s gas tankwith outrageously priced fuel with a leaky gas tank.

Against a landscape of food insecurity privateagribusinesses and its affiliates are a de facto oligopoly providingdonations and often directly or indirectly operating food banks. These are the samecorporations that influence food prices and ironically force many low-incomeand newly low-income consumers to become dependent on food banks from which theseagribusinesses receive exceptionally generous governmental tax benefits.

Because of the conflicting economics the food supply &demand formula fails as a predictive indicator of price and level of riskbecause food supply & demand are “managed” by the private-publicpartnership. For this reason, this arrangement erases any credibility ofso-called official projections or assurances by private industry and government.

This flawed and technically corrupt operational and economicmodel endangers the public health & welfare and requires an overhaulrequiring political will, something rarer than a do-do bird. These factors area witch’s brew that could provoke violent civil unrest regardless of politicalaffiliation as underscored in my article originally published almost a year agoon 28 April 2020 entitled ImpendingFood Shortage to Provoke Civil Unrest. The vaccines will assuage the fearof Covid-19 itself, but not the aftermath of a parallel man-made crisis

 

© Copyright 2021 Cerulean Council LLC

The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that providesprescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments ongeopolitical dynamics and global urban security with counter-intuitivesolutions.

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