Change has arrived. After all the hate-filled, mudslinging nastiness, after soaring rhetoric and hollow promises, after lies, rumor, and innuendo, after poor predictions and poorer behavior, change has finally arrived.
Yes, change has finally arrived: We’ve reached the end of economic growth.
And just in time, too. As waves of red ink from the Overdraft Ocean lap at the shores of The Check(book) Republic, the cry goes out: The economy must grow. As we find ourselves swimming through an ocean filled with predatory lenders and shylock sea snakes, the screams grow louder: The economy must grow. As the serfs in the Service Economy pay homage to the princes of the collapsing financial sector, the rallying cry overwhelms the senses: The economy must grow.
Never mind the species we drive to extinction. Never mind the air we foul, the waters we muddy, the landbase we annihilate. Never mind the world we’re leaving to our children, and theirs. Never mind the insanity of perpetual growth on finite resources.
Never mind Thomas Malthus. Or Paul Ehrlich. Or Herman Daly. Or the Club of Rome. Or, for that matter, Jesus Christ himself. The economy must grow.
Damn the torpedoes. Or, in this case, the air, the water, the land, the species, the cultures, and the future generations. To hell with all of them and their tomorrows. The economy must grow.
Looks like that problem is taking care of itself, and just in time to save a small portion of what’s left on planet Earth. But the end of economic growth brings with it a host of other problems for the animal that believes he’s special.
We cannot solve this predicament. And if you’re looking for somebody to blame, look no further than geology. Or, if you’re into that sort of thing, God.
Peak oil is history. And that means economic growth is history, too.
I cannot imagine a better politician than Barack Obama to lead this nation through the dark days ahead. But expectations are running high, and the collective disappointment will be severe. Even if Obama inherits an economy that has any life left in it — which certainly isn’t guaranteed with two months left in Dubya’s term and world oil extraction falling precipitously — all available evidence indicates Obama be presiding over heat-sucking, smoldering ruins surrounded by irate hunters instead of a warm, crackling fire ringed by contented campers. BushCo has spent eight years dumping gasoline on the fire, leaving Obama and the Dems in Congress with no fuel, no matches, and no hope for a long-term recovery. Looks like we’re in for a long winter.
The only way to get the world economy stoked up again: hyperinflation. In all likelihood, we’ll escape the smoldering ruins of a severe recession by jumping straight into the bonfire of 1,000 percent inflation.
Good times, eh?
Obama surely knows what’s coming, and he’s busy assembling his team so he can hit the ground running. The first 100 days of a presidency rarely have been so important. If Obama doesn’t draw in those who opposed him within the first 100 days, he likely won’t get a second chance. If that happens, I doubt the country will hold together as united states.
We can hope Obama will inspire us to civility in the face of hard times like this country has never experienced. We can hope he’ll slay the demons of a divided nation and replace them with saints of unity. We can hope he’ll abandon the principles of neo-conservatism — the very principles he rode into office — and replace them with a strong sense of personal liberty that is exceeded by a stronger sense of personal responsibility. We can hope he’ll rise, and take us with him, from the quagmire of personal indulgence and civic irresponsibility this country has become. We can hope his charisma will hold us captive long enough to bring us together as we bravely face a world unlike any of us expected.
The alternative is unthinkable. So let’s put our hearts and minds together to think of something else.