Of Canaries and Coal Mines

2012 June 3
by justrand

I have heard and read in numerous places of late that “Greece is the canary in the coal mine…we must save Greece!!”

Um…those saying/writing this do not understand the “Canary in the coal mine” metaphor.

Imagine this scene in a coal mine:

The canary that the coal miners have brought down with them stops chirping and falls off its perch, unable to breathe. The compassionate coal miners immediately attempt to revive the brave canary, pumping its little chest and even trying to blow air into its little beak. They cover its cage with some sheeting and open a canister of pure oxygen under it…reviving the canary!!


Nope. No offense, canary, but you’re NOT A PET! You’re not down there to amuse the miners. If you can’t breathe, then real soon THEY won’t be able to breathe! So while you’re expiring the miners will be running for their lives!!

The miners COULD put some plastic over the cage and open a canister of pure oxygen…and the canary would revive!! In other words, they could actively DISABLE the warning system that the canary represents! Result: dead miners!

Heroically “saving” Greece (and Spain, et al) will just ensure that the miners (aka: the rest of Europe and the U.S.) wind up asphyxiating.

A canary in your home is a pet…enjoy it! A canary in a coal mine is an alarm…listen to it!!

56 Responses leave one →
  1. 2012 June 3 5:21 pm

    Great analogy, get out of the mine before the whole sumbich collapses.

    Greece is just the deuce of spades in a large house of cards.

  2. 2012 June 3 5:40 pm
    mulletover permalink

    Eight weeks vacation, retirement at age 50, government-provided health care…..

    All the while, the canary is gasping.

    It’s all right. “Just go out and buy a thingamajig.”

  3. 2012 June 3 5:43 pm
    mulletover permalink

  4. 2012 June 3 5:49 pm
    justrand permalink

    As a systems guy I know that you need to find and correct the Root Cause when a system or process goes awry.

    Simply addressing the SYMPTOMS is at best costly…and can actually be a prescription for disaster.

    As mullet notes, what’s wrong with Greece is obvious…but no one wants to fix it, and OUR Moron-in-Chief wants to freaking EMULATE it!

  5. 2012 June 3 5:54 pm
    justrand permalink

    O/T on my own thread…

    Just read an interesting book that centers around Biotic vs. Abiotic oil

    I come down on the side of deep oil being ABIOTIC…and almost limitless


  6. 2012 June 3 7:22 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    My guesses —

    * Greece will exit the Euro. To not do so would consign one generation maybe two to an economy more akin to Zimbabwe. Their parliamentary system could not function under a protracted arrangement as this. Exiting will permit a devastating steep depression followed by regrowth over a shorter period of time.

    * Spain is more worrisome. They have 5x the economy of Greece. One of their biggest banks is already on the ropes. $82Bn Euros have already exited Spain to points Nordic. The silent bank run continues. The Spanish central bank does not have the resources to stem the tide. Nor does the ECB.

    * Considerably more freaky is what happens with Greece’s exit? If the Euro lets them go what is to prevent Ireland, Italy and Portugal to follow suit? At that point is the Euro worth it? The only players that could continue to be a Euro partner would be Germany, Sweden, Norway, and a couple of the former east bloc countries. That looks more like a Pan-Germanic League than a Euro. Yes, France will be a basket case shortly with the New Socialists in charge.

    * Europe’s problem? Hardly. The top US banks have $602Bn in CDS and derivatives exposure. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/u-s-banks-tally-their-exposure-to-europes-debt-maelstrom/ Does not sound like a lot of money till you realize that the total market cap of the ten largest tanks is only a little over $1Tn. (see chart) http://topforeignstocks.com/2010/05/24/the-largest-13-us-banks-by-market-capitalization/

    * But wait it gets worse. The top 4 of those banks above hold 1 in 3 retail accounts across the country. The director of the FDIC warned that the corp is almost insolvent and could not handle a large depositor shock. A repeat of the Lehman debacle is ready and waiting should the european banks call in their markers on CDS’s.

    Sorry to be a harpie of bad news….

  7. 2012 June 3 7:33 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    JR – I remember reading years ago about Biotic vs Abiotic oil, it seem to make sense that it was Abiotic given the heat and pressure within the planet. Given that wells that were thought to be depleted that are still producing (in some cases increased production) makes one question the premiss of Biotic. And yes, it is almost limitless.

    The canary in the coal mine. I don’t know if you remember the movie “Abandon Ship” with Tyrone Power (1957). A case of an over loaded life boat with an advancing storm. Who do you save and who do you not save?

  8. 2012 June 3 7:33 pm
    justrand permalink

    Thx, drdog…you confirmed my decision to drink heavily 🙂

  9. 2012 June 3 7:36 pm
    justrand permalink

    Gnqanq that is a great question…and there is a great simulation based on that. Ultimately you MUST SAVE those who will help you survive!

  10. 2012 June 3 7:58 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    There are things one can do to prepare —

    * Get your deposits and accounts to a credit union. Or at a minimum a regional bank. Check this list regularly — http://problembanklist.com/ Make sure who you are dealing with is not on that list.

    * Own some silver. Not for investment, but for hard currency purposes. Own enough to last you a month of expenses.

    * Have a food plan. Make sure it can tide you over for at least a month.

    * First aid kit and how to use it.

    * Plan to store water. We have an exposure in our national water supply system. Most water treatment plants do not store more than 2-3 weeks of chlorates. Should distribution be disrupted potable water by usual sources could be a problem.

    * Hone your bartering skills. Trade maybe more important than cash. That of course presumes that you can get to an operable ATM which might be doubtful.

    * One last thing to remember. When the SHTF the government will not save you. They will be having their own sets of problem to deal with. The Greek government did not step in to help its citizens, still is not. Expect the same treatment here. Remember New Orleans and how the police acted.

  11. 2012 June 3 7:59 pm
    mulletover permalink

    Greece will probably implode in the not too distant future. If a rescue package doesn’t materialize, they may exit the Euro resulting in lower per-capita income, high unemployment and high inflation. To keep up with their obligations, higher tax revenues would be imposed on Greek companies. The catch here is many Greek companies are already fleeing to the Balkans seeking more stable markets and lower tax rates.

    I guess the rescue package then becomes a foreign aid package.

    Hope and Change.

  12. 2012 June 3 8:05 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    My guess is when the Greeks exit they will immediately repudiate all debts or redominate them in drachmas. The drachma will of course collapse to 1:10 against all currencies and as a consequence so will the debts.

  13. 2012 June 3 8:10 pm

    The cradle of democracy will then elect a commie gubmint.

  14. 2012 June 3 8:11 pm
    drdog09 permalink

  15. 2012 June 3 8:18 pm

    hemorrhoidus demokratus

  16. 2012 June 3 8:22 pm
    mulletover permalink


    Interesting you mentioned the vulnerabilities in municipal water systems. I’ve been thinking about a rainwater collection system for my vegetables, herbs, and potted plants, etc. I guess it could be a backup for human consumption as well, filtered and treated with clorox or whatever.

  17. 2012 June 3 8:38 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Judge Andrew Napolitano

    “I believe we have a one party system in this country, called the big-government party. There is a Republican branch that likes war and deficits and assaulting civil liberties. There is a Democratic branch that likes welfare and taxes and assaulting commercial liberties.”

  18. 2012 June 3 8:39 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” – Thucydides

  19. 2012 June 3 8:43 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. – Lord Acton

  20. 2012 June 3 8:45 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    The more laws and restrictions there are, the poorer the people become. – Lao Tsu

  21. 2012 June 3 8:52 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    “It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to bear the cost.” -Murray Rothbard

  22. 2012 June 3 8:58 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    Mullet – just my 2 cents on rain water collection. What type of roof? If shingle, what type of chemicals from the shingles may be going into your water collection system?

  23. 2012 June 3 8:58 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    “filtered and treated with clorox or whatever.”

    Get yourself one of those turkey fryer set ups if you don’t have one already. Use it to boil a large quantity of water efficiently when the need arises. Clorox is not effective against certain buggies.

  24. 2012 June 3 10:30 pm
    justrand permalink

    if you want to know how rain-water collection is done…look into HOVE. Hawaiian Ocean View Estates. One of the wierdest places!!!

  25. 2012 June 3 11:22 pm
    Wylie E. Coyote permalink

    Speaking of “wet” places:

    “Anyone familiar with the phenomenon of the tragedy of the commons will very likely realize how it is evident throughout some of the most attractive places around the world − Santiago, Chile; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway and the rest. Because governments can always float bonds and finance the projects of their leaders with debt and money printed for them, there is rank and massive profligacy afoot in these places. Another reason this can go on is that in certain parts of the country, indeed the world, citizens are quite happy to assume debts they are not ever likely to be called upon to pay back. Shops, restaurants, hotels and such are nicely designed and built as a testimony to the good taste of the planners. Never mind that in time there will have to be some kind of adjustment so that those who come up with the services that make all this feasible can be compensated (so they can feed and clothe themselves). The resources for the time being come from tax revenues and borrowed funds, so few care much about the burdens created, the cost that must in the end be covered by the citizenry. Sure, there are always a few who speak out and protest the profligacy but too often they are regarded as party poopers, spoilers of the fun so many are looking forward to.

    The fact that most of the expenditures are carried out on the backs of millions who do not live in the places that are being spiffied up so nicely, people who work in rural areas − in plants and factories, on docks and farms and other areas where the hard work that earns some real funds is being done − doesn’t bother the ambitious planners in whose minds these beautiful downtowns around the world, including in Seattle and other parts the beautiful people like so very much live, are conceived.

    The dreamers basically think, “These are such nice ideas that it would be a shame not to make a try at implementing them, never mind the ultimate cost to millions who have to give up their own plans in consequence.” It is all in support of our communities, after all, right? And elites know best what is worth being built, right, never mind who must pay in the end, right? (Kind of like in contemporary Red China where so much of what is being displayed is aimed for the foreign visitor, mostly at the expense of the millions living rather poorly in the hinterlands.)”


  26. 2012 June 4 5:15 am
    bc3b permalink

    The canary in the coal mine. I don’t know if you remember the movie “Abandon Ship” with Tyrone Power (1957). A case of an over loaded life boat with an advancing storm. Who do you save and who do you not save?

    That’s an easy one GN. Throw all the liberals and Democrats overboard and save any hot chicks (beauty queens, NFL cheerleaders, ice girls, etc.).

  27. 2012 June 4 5:22 am
    bc3b permalink

    If you are big into the stock market, keep your seat belt fastened. It looks like it gonna be a bumpy ride.

  28. 2012 June 4 5:26 am
    bc3b permalink

  29. 2012 June 4 5:49 am
    justrand permalink

    bc3b…I just looked at the Asian markets, they got hammered overnight, and Europe isn’t looking too good either!

    gonna be a tough day on Wall Street AND Main Street.

    And ALL, every bit, because George Bush came back to the White House!!!! Curses!

  30. 2012 June 4 5:51 am
    TLS permalink

    Great thread JR. The analogy of saving the canary is perfect.

    Friday I was on a field trip with my daughter’s Kindergarten class and I listened to another mom who is a gov’t employee saying that she has to retire next year because of her pension system. She got retirement at 20 years and then a percentage was added to her retirement each year until she reached 100% pay at 30 years. So after next year, she is “working for free and wasting her pension”. She is 51. All I could think was, we are Greece.

  31. 2012 June 4 6:05 am
    justrand permalink

    thx, TLS…and excellent real life example, of which millions of such examples abound across America.

    Tomorrow in Wisconsin we will see if Americans still know how to respond to a Fire-Alarm.
    Old School: (1) get everyone to safety (2) locate and try to put out the fire!
    NEW School: (1) try to shut up that DAMN NOISE!!! (2) Blame Bush for the fire!

  32. 2012 June 4 6:12 am

    Republican branch that likes war and deficits and assaulting civil liberties~~~napoli

    What “assault” would that be??? ( there is no civil liberty to force society to accept and legitimize sexual perversion)

    Vietnam~demokrat–kennedy/johnson (ended by nixon)
    gulf wars-demo/repub.

    Affirmative action–demokrat
    Quotas ————demokrat
    anti smoking——-demokrat
    food restrictions—demokrat
    no medical choice—demokrat
    minimum wage——-demokrat
    union thuggery—–demokrat
    gun control——–demokrat
    attacking religion–demokrat

    The attack on civil liberties is much more extensive
    on the demokrat side then the GOP side.

  33. 2012 June 4 6:15 am
    bc3b permalink

    TLS: Interesting. 51 is the retirement age in Greece.

    San Jose is trying to do something about reforming its pension problem:


    Pensions and other benefits got blown out of sight durning the dot.com era and that was nearly 20 years ago.

    Kalifornia and Illinois are in the worst shape.

  34. 2012 June 4 6:16 am
    drdog09 permalink

    BC, 27,

    I exited the stock market 5 years ago. Between the 9/11 situation fall out and the weirdness of Quant trading it got too unstable for my tastes. But then I am much more risk averse than say Eph might be, which is fine, different boats for different folks.

  35. 2012 June 4 6:18 am
    bc3b permalink

    JR –

    Good work!

    I hadn’t connected Bush returning to the White House with the bad jobs report and the market tumbling. Here all this time I thought Obama was at fault. Stupid me! Bush is to blame. See if I ever vote for him again!

  36. 2012 June 4 6:20 am
    drdog09 permalink


    It is typical of State legislatures. When there are boom times they ratchet up promises as they are flush with revenues not thinking that there will be another lean time. Same with pensions. The pension board say they can afford a 4% annum increase in COLA because the stock portfolio is rocking at 15% ROI. Then the SHTF happens….

  37. 2012 June 4 6:25 am
    bc3b permalink

    Just my opinion. The market had been over-performing because the media has been over-accentuating positive financial news and under-reporting negative economic news to make “Fearless Leader” look good.

  38. 2012 June 4 6:25 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Interesting if true — http://michellemalkin.com/2012/06/04/developing-msm-trend/

    I saw the segment with Kasich. He did not fall for it.

  39. 2012 June 4 6:28 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Okay…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/cyber-search-engine-exposes-vulnerabilities/2012/06/03/gJQAIK9KCV_story.html

    Course the ISC certed security dude in the back of the room is looking for new underwear….

  40. 2012 June 4 6:28 am
    justrand permalink

    bc3b: “Bush is to blame. See if I ever vote for him again!

    Excellent, Comrade!! Your re-education appears to be complete! 🙂

  41. 2012 June 4 6:29 am
    justrand permalink

    drdog, the Iraqi oil production is dramatically up, and the NYT give all credit to (wait for it)…OBAMA!!

  42. 2012 June 4 6:35 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Oh Jeez! Guess we should expect that. I mean these guys are fighting to keep a defined pension plan from NYT that will be worthless should they carry the day. So Obama being the cause of Iraq’s fortunes is ok by them. Course the dipshits fail to consider or report that most of the oil is going to red china.

  43. 2012 June 4 6:41 am
    justrand permalink

    the latest mantra from the Left: the economy is only faltering because the Republicans are ROOTING for it to falter!

    That’s right, Republican negative vibes are the REAL problem!

    Ya know, I enjoy watching sports on TV sometimes, and will sometimes yell at the TV something like: “BLOCK THAT PUNT!!!” And sometimes the punt DOES get blocked!!! While I am happy for the outcome, I never assume that MY shouting at the TV had anything to do with the punt getting blocked.

  44. 2012 June 4 6:44 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Interesting observation, germane to last weeks foibles by the WH — http://www.humanevents.com/2012/05/25/romney-obama-and-the-2012-preference-cascade/

  45. 2012 June 4 7:11 am
    bc3b permalink

    AIG Chief Sees Retirement as Late as 80:


    Unless you are employed by the government.

  46. 2012 June 4 7:24 am
    bc3b permalink

    Don’t Know if this is true; not good if it is:


    That’s why it’s important to elect conservatives to Congress.

  47. 2012 June 4 7:56 am
    drdog09 permalink

  48. 2012 June 4 7:58 am

    post 46. the rominator needs to quash that crap ASAP.

  49. 2012 June 4 8:00 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    New dem/media mantra:

    “Republicans rooting for Economic Failure!!!”

    Here is a bit of news from RP news service:

    The economy has already failed

  50. 2012 June 4 8:02 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    B3, your #46. The Tea Party is already doing this.

  51. 2012 June 4 8:11 am
    drdog09 permalink

    The Little Red Hen version 2012

    “Who will help me plant my wheat?” asked the little red hen.

    “Not I,” said the cow.

    “Not I,” said the duck.

    “Not I,” said the pig.

    “Not I,” said the goose.

    “Then I will do it by myself.” She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.

    “Who will help me reap my wheat?” asked the little red hen.

    “Not I,” said the duck.

    “Out of my classification,” said the pig.

    “I’d lose my seniority,” said the cow.

    “I’d lose my unemployment compensation,” said the goose.

    “Then I will do it by myself,” said the little red hen, and so she did.

    “Who will help me bake the bread?” asked the little red hen.

    “That would be overtime for me,” said the cow.

    “I’d lose my welfare benefits,” said the duck.

    “I’m a dropout and never learned how,” said the pig.

    “If I’m to be the only helper, that’s discrimination,” said the goose.

    “Then I will do it by myself,” said the little red hen.

    She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share but the little red hen said, “No, I shall eat all five loaves.”

    “Excess profits!” cried the cow. (Nancy Pelosi)

    “Capitalist leech!” screamed the duck. (Barbara Boxer)

    “I demand equal rights!” yelled the goose. (Jesse Jackson)

    The pig just grunted in disdain. (Harry Reid)

    And they all painted ‘Unfair!’ picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

    Then the farmer (Obama) came He said to the little red hen, “You must not be so greedy.”

    “But I earned the bread,” said the little red hen.

    “Exactly,” said Barack the farmer. “That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle.”

    And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, “I am grateful, for now I truly understand.”

    But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the ‘party’ and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled. ‘Fairness’ had been established.

    Individual initiative had died but nobody noticed; perhaps no one cared so long as there was free bread that ‘the rich’ were paying for.


    Bill Clinton is getting $12 million for his memoirs.

    Hillary got $8 million for hers.

    That’s $20 million for the memories from two people, who for eight years repeatedly testified, under oath, that they couldn’t remember anything.


  52. 2012 June 4 8:31 am
    justrand permalink

    great story, drdog…of course, within two years the entire barnyard starved to death

  53. 2012 June 4 8:41 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Dr. By now the barnyard is full of Sh!t.

  54. 2012 June 4 8:52 am
    bc3b permalink

    Michael Leavitt, the man named to head Romney’s transition team, is the former governor of Utah, former head of HHS and a member of the Church of Later Day Saints.

    Not a wise move IMO.

  55. 2012 June 4 8:53 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Only in America could a barnyard be full of SH!t yet starve to death! 🙂

  56. 2012 June 4 9:36 am
    drdog09 permalink

    Check out the map — http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/obamas-2008-donors-dont-give-in-2012

    Donor drop off, 2008 vs 2012 for Obama to date.

    PS: What disturbs me, reading the article is that those interviewed are pissed because they did not get MORE of the Obama Stash.

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