Do the media get it, or not?

Here’s an interesting story, if only to me. I submitted the piece below as a guest commentary (i.e., op-ed piece) to the morning daily in this benighted town.
The editors found it absurd, as expected. Actually, the editor who responded wrote, “there are many facts and statements in your article that appear to be wildly exaggerated” (exaggerated facts?), and asked for evidence to support a few of the statements. So I provided him a handful of links from the mainstream media, at which point he ran away. No great surprise there, I suppose. If you’re addicted to economic growth, as required by newspapers, the truth is damned inconvenient.


This is where it gets interesting. I sent the piece to the editor of the city’s progressive weekly. His response: “I’ll pass on this. There are lots of economic commentaries out there, many making these very same points.”
So, the commentary is too wacky for the mainstream media. And it’s old news for the progressive media. What’s a starving writer to do?
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Even though we’ve seen the end of $4 gasoline, at least temporarily, the economy is not quite out of the woods. Demand destruction and a severely constricting economy have driven down the price of oil and its distillates. But the resulting economic bounce has resembled a dead cat tossed off the shiny new roof at Marriott Starr Pass.
Cheap oil allowed the creation of suburbia. Cheap oil allowed us to use our houses as automatic teller machines. Cheap oil allowed banks to borrow money inexpensively and lend it slightly more expensively (but it was still cheap). Cheap oil allowed economic growth.
Those days are behind us.
During earlier recessions, demand for oil dropped severely enough to drop the price down to $10 or $20 per barrel, adjusted for inflation. Since we passed the world oil peak, the price of oil has never dropped below $49 per barrel. And although we might yet see $49 oil again, and even $2 gasoline, the price will be great: Most of us will be out of work and too poor to afford cheap fuel, even if we can convince truckers to keep delivering gasoline and diesel to the corner convenience store.
The ongoing collapse of the U.S. economy will be complete within a few years, and there’s nothing you, me, or the federal government can do about it. The FDIC has sufficient reserves to bail out fully one percent of the bank deposits in this country, but every bank in the country is teetering on the verge of failure. If the events of September 11, 2008 or September 29, 2008 are repeated, every bank in the country will fail and this country’s economic collapse will be complete within a few weeks.
It seems neither the Fed nor the Treasury Department cannot stop sunshine with an umbrella, much less interrupt the relentless tsunami of dire economic news.
During the Great Depression, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 90 percent over a period of nearly three years. This time, the Dow is about halfway to that 90 percent in the last year. Daily market swings in the triple digits have become customary, and you can expect to see the Dow at 4,000 long before it touches last month’s average of 11,000.
As one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Iceland is a mirror of, and predictor for, the United States. And, much as Europe has caught a cold because Iceland sneezed, the world economy will fall when the U.S. economy collapses. Iceland is peering into the economic abyss, and one small push will send that country into an economic death spiral. The U.S. and the world will fall off the economic cliff shortly thereafter.
At this point, the Greatest Depression is locked in. The economic picture is bound to get a lot uglier before it improves, yet we continue to beg politicians to tell us lies, and they continue to indulge us. But in the very near future, we’re going to have to face the truth as we fend for ourselves in a world turn upside-down. We’ll need to live in the world, instead of apart from it. Even here in the sunny Southwest, it’ll be a dark future for those of us addicted to electricity and running water. But the future certainly, and suddenly, looks bright for the myriad cultures and species we’ve driven to the point of extinction.

Comments 6

  • By far the best expose on the media and journalism was a speech by John Pilger. The transcript can be read at the following link:
    http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=446
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Thanks for the comment and link, Stan. This is a superb speech, and it mirrors much of Derrick Jensen’s Endgame. The primary difference is the solution each author offers, and I agree with Jensen: It’s too late to re-invent journalism, and it wouldn’t work anyway because journalism is simply symptomatic of humanity gone awry. It’s time to bring down civilization.

  • Hi Guy —
    I think I know what the major catalyst will be for the denouement of our civilization will be, and I hear it is in process now. When Mastercard and Visa are no longer operable, people will panic. I see people all the time charging groceries, meals, gasoline, everything on their credit cards. Some people pay off their monthly accounts without paying interest and thus benefit from programs that give free airline mileage, GMAC financing credits, etc and thus benefit from the transactions. But many are borrowing money in effect to pay for daily expenses and then getting saddled with minimum monthly payments at whopping rates. This is bad enough in and of itself, and many customers are now no longer to make timely payments on their credit balances. When the ongoing and increasing financial crisis shuts down this program of borrowing against the future for daily mundane expenses, people will panic very quickly and civilization will wither on the vine.
    There will be other components, for sure, to this overall process of collapse, but I see credit card collapse as a, if not the, biggie for many, many Americans.
    Ciao,
    Stan Moore

  • Speaking earlier of John Pilger, I recommend his book “Freedom Next Time”. Among other things, I believe it is very instructive to consider his analysis of Nelson Mandela’s rise to the Presidency of South Africa as compared with Barack Obama’s political rise in the U.S., which is said to offer hope to the minority children and African American children of America that someone who looks like them can actually become President of the U.S.
    Decades ago, when he was a fiery revolutionary actually willing to use violence to overthrow the social order of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was a real threat to the white ruling class. It involved apartheid, the separation of the races, but it involved much, much more. Mandela and the African National Congress were figbting for power for the African people, including their share of the national wealth. And South Africa is a very rich land with resources including gold, diamonds, other minerals, and other developed industries from which black ownership and profit sharing had been utterly prevented.
    John Pilger in his recent book reveals the sell-out that Nelson Mandela made, along with the African National Congress. A few blacks got a little power and some wealth and prestige. The African natives got an end to apartheid and the right to vote for President. Mandela got to be a world celebrity and his spend his old age as a grandfatherly figure revered by all. And the majority African people are still living in poverty and have little real power in their own homeland. A little South African boy living in Soweto can see how Nelson Mandela got to be President, and maybe he himself can one day do so, but he can also see that it did the majority only limited good.
    Barack Obama shows African American youth that if one sells out he can accomplish much. Obama is the American Nelson Mandela. He got book deals, high office, and to be a “player” in a rigged system. A few may benefit, but the majority of African Americans will have lives that continue the same as if Barack Obama never existed. Others did the heavy lifting to end America of its version of apartheid, whereas Nelson Mandela can claim credit for the pressure to life South African apartheid, but not by his efforts after release from prison. Mandela did his heavy lifting as a young revolutionary and as a political prisoner, condemned to life in prison. When Mandela got released from prison, the physical separation of the races in South Africa was ended, but not the economic apartheid. Nor has Mandela seriously worked to end economic apartheid because he cut a deal for himself, just like Obama has.
    The excuse given by Nelson Mandela was that if the industries were pushed too hard for social justice in South Africa, they would pull up and leave, benefiting no one. Obama bails out Wall Street on the grounds that the trickle down flow to the bottom would be compromised if those hundreds of billions of dollars are withheld from the billionaires in their penthouse suites. The world stands in awe at these “statesmen”. Their ascent to power in important ways ends the social revolutions that produced them, but far short of the original goals. Not a bad solution for the beneficiaries of the status quo.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • I have noticed how the media picks up relentless on the Obama assertion that a McCain admininstration will be a continuation of the Bush Administration. Obama says he can live with four more days of McCain attacks, but not four more years of the Bush administration.
    And the media dutifully report these discussions.
    But when will the “investigative” journalists begin to analyze the Obama recycling program for Bush policies and officials. Obama told us last week that Colin Powell could be an advisor in his administration. This is the same Colin Powell who payed the critical role for the Bush Administration in convincing the United Nations, the American public and the world at large that Iraq had a weapons of mass destruction program in effect and thus paved the way for an unjust war. Bush did not call a more expert potential advisor such as Scott Ritter to give that speech, and Obama has not offered Scott Ritter a job in his administration. Obama wants to recycle Colin Powell.
    The word from insiders is that Obama will likely retain Bush Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Before receiving his appointment and while on the Iraq Advisory Group, Gates said that the Iraq War was not solvable by military means. Then he got into the Bush Administration and decided to “surge” the way to military victory. Obama agreed at first that the war was not winnable by military means, and at first opposed the surge, but eventually he turned around based on the sole criteria of U.S. casualties being reduced and now he wants to recycle Bush appointee Gates, too. No wonder the Iraqis do not see much difference in how an Obama vs. a McCain victory might affect them. McCain and Obama are BOTH likely to retain Gates and to abandon concern over living conditions for orginary Iraqis under the boothill of the American military since the only important thing is that American casualties are no longer a political hot potato.
    Much of the world knows that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, not because of Al Qaeda and 9/11, but because of Unical and a long-proposed oil pipeline they wanted to build and control. The war strategy to coincide explicity with the control of lands under the route of that pipeline were in place well before 9/11 and the U.S. military was not capable of controlling pipeline routes and going after Bin Laden in the high mountains, so they focused on their real priority, the pipeline and let Bin Laden go. Now, Obama wants to finish the job and recycle the Bush policy.
    The uncomfortable truth is that Obama and the Democrats are not an opposition party to the Republicans and never were. They are a competing party, with similar goals and with the full capability of sharing personnel if they see an advantage in it. Obama is very flexible and his political recycling is not for the benefit of the unwashed masses or even of his beloved auntie awaiting extradiction in Boston.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • whatsup?
    I love to hear a future discussion by Professor Guy on current issues related to Peak Oil, oil price, oil production and related matters. OPEC is said to be talking of or perhaps implementing a reduction of crude oil production by 1.5 million barrels per day. Ostensibly this is a ploy to increase crude oil prices, since the producers certainly enjoyed the higher prices of $100 to around $150 per barrel and may have planned interim national budgets based on revenue streams in that order of pricing.
    I have a slightly different take, though I do accept the notion that OPEC and other producers (including USA by the way) would like to see higher crude oil prices. (And by the way, my understanding is that most Alaskan crude oil is sold to Japan and does not improve American energy independence as Palin and the Republicans insinuate, but the sale of that crude does help the Alaskan and perhaps U.S. economy as a profit maker).
    My take is that OPEC is strategizing to reduce crude oil production quotas because they know that oil production capacity is diminishing steadily. Also, the world financial crisis is reducing capacity to increase production through new recovery plays, meaning that diminishing of production of oil by old facilities and wells is less likely than ever to be balanced by new production of previously discovered reserves than ever before.
    My take is that the lowering of production quotas are directly related to Peak Oil and the new, lowered production quotas will become permanent and we will never see a return to the higher quotas that are being replaced with lower ones. I believe this will ultimately be accompanied by higher prices and ultimately by dramatically higher prices. I believe that Matt Simmons has not backed off a centimeter from his expectations that crude oil prices will hit the roof in the foreseeable future, with $500 per barrel within the range of predictability.
    My expectation at this point is that all the people who are developing a new comfort zone over the current oil prices are doing exactly what was done at the end of the Arab oil embargoes in the 1970’s and are fantasizing about a return to stable, long-term lower oil prices. I think they are in for a rude awakening.
    At the same time, I am a little perplezed that the Chinese are not buying up all the excess oil production and stockpiling it. It may be that the Chinese economy is in a major slowdown due to the U.S. economy slowdown and the world financial crisis. A big part of the problem for the Chinese is that a huge amount of their profits are in the form of U.S. treasuries that cannot be converted readily into Persian Gulf oil, making another motivation for the Chinese to find a way to transition away from the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency. They are stuck in a huge pickle that is sour and not like the sweet pickles I like to eat with my tuna salad sandwiches.
    Perhaps the U.S. election season is also putting some international action on hold. It is like we are in a sort of international purgatory right now, waiting for the ticket to heaven or hell to be placed before us, and fearing that hell is making space for a huge influx of unhappy inductees.
    I wonder what Professor Guy thinks of all of this…
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA