As most tech nerds know, Moore’s Law, coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, describes a type of exponential curve. He surmised that transistor surface area would halve, and processing power double, about every 18 months.
This phenomenon is why the computers that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969 occupied a building the size of a football field, and had about one millionth the processing power of a smartphone that slides into your back pocket.
Moore didn’t think his observation was sustainable indefinitely. He originally posited that it would be a trend that continued over the ensuing decade, but then it just kept going and attained that “law” status. He still thought it would taper off in the early 21st century and around 2015 or so, it looked like hard limits to miniaturization and the laws of physics itself, with electron leakage and quantum effects, would put an end to it.
But new methods of increasing computing power evolved: the advent of 3D transistors and neuromorphic computing revived the law, and the “Singularity is Near” crowd like Ray Kurzweil now hold Moore’s Law to be immutable. Because it will continue forever, they preach, we will soon achieve transhumanist bliss, as we turn the entire Universe into computronium
(I’m not exaggerating about Kurzweil’s beliefs, but I did go off on a tangent. If you do want to know more, you can tune into my recent podcast interview with Joe Allen, author of “Dark Aeon: Transhumanism and the War Against Humanity” on BombthrowerTV).
Hockey stick curves tend to hold up, often longer than anybody reasonably expects, …until they don’t.
I am writing most of this issue as we head into the final weekend before another episode of performative theatre called “Government Shutdown.” The last time we were here (three months ago), I wrote, “There is no such thing as the debt ceiling”, which became literally true as the government shutdown impasse was “solved” by simply suspending the debt ceiling until 2025.
Since June 1st, the US government has added over $1.7 trillion in fresh new debt.
On January 1, 1835, the US President Andrew Jackson paid off the national debt in full, giving the country a clean slate. A fresh start. From there, racking up that first trillion dollars in debt was a centuries long process: it took 146 years. The last trillion took about 36 days. With the United States government’s burn rate currently humming at $100 billion per week ($10 million per minute), we’re about three weeks away from notching another trillion and on track to add six trillion this year.
Do you see the resemblance to Moore’s Law now?
In order for that to be sustainable, the semi-conductor industry came up with new scientific breakthroughs that practically altered the spacetime continuum in order to maintain the relentless march of technological progress. Alas, this other feedback loop, the runaway debt spiral, is something else altogether.
Like Moore’s Law, there were brief periods when it looked like the parabolic climb would level off or break down. To be sure, there never came another US president who would do anything zany like paying off the national debt. Eisenhower was the last president to actually reduce the debt, and even if you take those “Clinton Era Surpluses” at face value they look more like a slight wobble or 2 perturbation on the overall trajectory of a ginormous, multi-generational debt supercycle:
I ask this with all sincerity:
What is the game plan here? pic.twitter.com/P8fhMyrw5C
— Phil Bak 🎩 (@philbak1) September 16, 2023
(The Clinton surpluses didn’t actually reduce the national debt, as the government all but raided social security funds and issued more debt to itself – so the national debt went up then too.)
What’s the monetary comparison for hitting the barriers of physics and having electron leakage derail your chip compression? US debt interest payments are now as much as military spending:
US national debt interest payments are now equal to military spending. US military spending is more than the next 10 countries combined. We will have to decide soon between being bankruptcy and being the (unelected) world's policeman… pic.twitter.com/3BNHz54CeC
— Joshua Kagan (@JoshuaKagan1) September 13, 2023
As Anthony Pompliano (“Pomp”) notes, this happened before, in the late 90s – but the situation is different today:
“As the graphic shows, we previously found ourselves in this situation once before in the last 1990s, but that was more than 20 years ago. Interest rates have been relatively low compared to historical norms during that period and military spending exploded thanks to two forever wars.
Since the withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan, you would think military spending would have come down, which coupled with high interest rates in the last 18 months, would create a scenario for military spending and interest payments to equal out. But the really scary part is that US military spending is higher right now than it was during the two forever wars. The wars ended, but the spending accelerated.”
For a hegemonic global Empire that presumably wants to stay that way, spending as much, or on their way to more, money on debt interest than the military can’t be sustainable. The debt has been growing faster than the economy for over a decade, but now it’s really starting to widen. Chris Martenson over at Peak Prosperity was early on this, talking about it back in 2011 or so, it’s finally showing up in places like CNBC.
The US national debt is growing faster than the economy, per CNBC: pic.twitter.com/rIo35v60zq
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) October 2, 2023
Read the rest in the October issue of The Bitcoin Capitalist…