It’s Kondratiev, Stupid.
A lot of things have happened since my last entry. For a while I was waiting for election results that never came. Please read on for the interesting story of how the Tomkins family ran into a similar situation and how they handled it. My advice is for everyone to calm down, take a breather, put your gloves back on, pick up your stick and start firing hockey pucks again. As many as possible.
The advancement of the Tomkins Cove Quarry coincided with the introduction of steam energy to society. Trains came first. Then boats and ships. Even factories. Fulton introduced steam to the New York harbor in 1807. A trip to Albany soon became routine by him, various competitors and the whole industry with ships that became increasingly reliable and faster. Governor Clinton’s Erie Canal opened for business in 1825. Horse drawn barges reduced the cost of eastbound freight by 1000%. The dramatic increase in commerce cemented New York State’s moniker, The Empire State.
The coal fired West Shore Railroad passed Tomkins Cove circa 1867. The Tomkins family had introduced steam to the quarry at least three decades earlier. Grinding rock is a tough business. Horses could not keep up with the need to meet an insatiable demand. The only usable fuel back then was coal, and it was available from river traffic. Steam energy was employed to grind rock, move belts and whatever. Several education institutions opened providing engineers to assist the uptick Kondratiev cycle. MIT first in Boston, then RPI in Rensselaer, then CCT in Potsdam, NY. By the late 1800’s it was time for the quarry to electrify.
To whom would you go to for electrification back then? Tom Edison, of course, inventor of commercial electricity via direct current (DC) as well as the light bulb. In a method, seemingly lost to history, Edison came up with a steam boiler, steam turbine, DC generator and various motors to operate the quarry. Having been involved with modern crusher design, I admit it was an amazing feat; figuring out how to crush rock with DC.
About the same time a young Nikolai Kondratiev was studying economics at St Petersburg University in Mother Russia. By all accounts he was a good student, likeable and he freely intermingled with other economists. At the local cafes and vodka mills revolution was in the air. An acquaintance, Vladimir Lenin, asked him to do some pick up work. It seems Vlad had big plans, needed something checked out and didn’t have the time to do it himself. He was convinced a communist society would, long term, be a better society than a capitalist one. Nikolai worked on it but could not prove a communist world would be better. He found a cycle that appeared in earnest once every 70 years or so that was dependent on technological progress. Eventually the cycle was named for him. Sure, more than half the time Communism is better but Capitalism is better in the upswing. Much better. The cycle, though related, is largely independent of the economic cycle. Vlad was not completely pleased but they saw no such upswing coming and he proceeded. Afterwards, Nikolai was given a couple educational related assignments. Later, in 1923-25 he was forced to write the book on bootstrapping the masses such that they can feed themselves. A book that Chairman Mao obviously missed.
Kondratiev kept writing. By 1928 he needed to be arrested. In 1930, jailed. He kept writing until a guy, whose name rhymes with Staleen, took him to Kommunarka shooting ground in 1938. There upon, with some ceremony, he was shot to death at age 46.
But what does this have to do with the price of rock in Tomkins Cove? Not much today. We are out of rock. Tomkins Cove was always technologically driven and the Kondratiev cycle is coming back. I’d like to make this clear: Kondratiev knew capitalism was best and he paid a dear price for his belief. Our present situation is not a problem between North and South, it’s not a problem between Red and Blue, nor does it involve any Race, Sex or Religion. Quite simply it’s the Coms vs. the Caps and we (by default) are Caps.
Don’t think for a minute that the Coms don’t know about Nikolai. They know their party is over. Of course, no one can reasonably be sure we entered an upswing for it can take a few decades to figure that out. Oh sure, market technicians will tell you they are all over this. My favorite Telly Savalas line delivered with his usual cigarette flair was when he asked Det. Crocker who advocated saving something for a rainy day, “What is this, the morning dew?”. Our Bill of Rights is a shambles. The affects of the pandemic have altered life and work styles permanently. Earth is being hammered by the effects of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. Only the Caps can save the world, as we know it, and predictably the Coms are saber rattling in the South China Sea and the Crimea (Editors note: The author is half Ukrainian). We must all work together, so whether you work with hockey sticks or CO2 recovery machines, get going.