More of the same from the cheerleader-in-chief

As I indicated in my previous post, we’ve reached the end of economic growth. I pointed to the Financial Times article that leaked the results of the International Energy Agency’s long-awaited study of the depletion rates of the world’s 400 largest oil fields. The bottom line: “Without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline is 9.1 per cent.”

Energy experts generally agree that a 2 per cent annual decline in extraction of crude oil translate to reasonably painful adaptation and the cessation of economic growth, a five per cent declines spell very painful adjustments and an economic depression of unprecedented magnitude, and a ten per cent decline means societal breakdown at a monumental scale.
President-elect Obama surely knows the dire straits we’re in, yet he has assumed the job of head cheerleader for the U.S. economy. As such, he is following the lead of his political hero and the first president to implement neoconservatism, Ronald Reagan. And, as nearly as I can tell from the shiny eyes and hopeful bounce in the steps of my “progressive” friends, Obama has a lot of believers.
Shortly after the election, Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Emanuel’s accomplishments include architect of NAFTA and Clinton’s draconian crime bill, and he’s pro-war, pro-business, and anti-labor. All signs indicate Obama will continue to push the neoconservative agenda: Go to war to get oil, the lifeblood of civilization.
Despite Obama’s likely attempts to maintain the status quo, it is becoming increasingly obvious 2009 will be the point at which declining world oil supplies will overwhelm the neoconservative agenda, thus forcing a radical change in agenda. How might this happen? How might we power down with grace and dignity?
We can start with the cheerleader-in-chief: Obama must overcome his adherence to neoconservative principles. He must dismiss the astrologers he calls economic advisors in exchange for advice rooted in reality. He must, if we are to hold together as a nation for another decade, inspire us to greatness in the form of the large quantities of courage, compassion, and creativity we will need to get through the dark days ahead. He certainly has the knowledge and the charisma to accomplish all this, and more, and he has our attention.
Declining availability of crude oil represents the greatest challenge our species has ever faced. Can we rise to meet this challenge, with or without government leadership? Can we lead, hoping our leaders will follow?
On the campaign trail, Senator Obama would have responded with, “Yes we can.”
Once he’s in office, how will President Obama lead? Will Obama tell us the truth about the dark days ahead? Will he tell us we’ve passed the world oil peak? That the days of economic growth are behind us? That unemployment will rise? That wages will decline? That suburbia is dead? Will he convince us to get back to work, or will he keep pushing the something-for-nothing fantasy of empire? Will he ditch the financial sector of our service economy in exchange for an economic system based on manufactured goods? Will he initiate public-works projects, such as railroads and sailing ports, so that we will be capable of transporting manufactured goods across the country?
Or can we expect more of the same?
If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the latter. If that’s the case, I guarantee we’ll not have anything resembling a united set of states by the end of Obama’s first term.

Comments 7

  • Obama being in office is going to “make change”. Change isnt always good but something has to be done whether its universal health care or putting a timeline on this “war for oil”. Its good to see someone initiative for this recession and the bailout should be on the top of the list for “making changes”.

  • I saw or heard mention recently that Obama and his team had been “fully briefed” on Peak Oil and its ramifications. I wonder what the quality of the briefing was and what the emphasis of the conclusion happened to be with regard to policy, government intervention, etc. For example, I think Dick Cheney knew about Peak Oil and thus convened his famous energy policy group in secret and planned wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably elsewhere and set up plans to divvy up the remaining oil resources amongst corporate friends.
    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if Barack Obama convened an open meeting to educate himself and the public on what the future holds and to discuss what can and what should be done and with what priorities. Why not invite Richard Heinberg and Colin Campbell and even James Howard Kunstler, the number one cheerleader for the cheerleader in chief. As secretive as the Cheney decision process was, it would be great for democracy and a real change for Obama to convene a very public meeting on Peak Oil before his inauguration, the sooner the better. Among other things, he could prepare the people for new expectations and lay the groundwork for a new economy. This might even involve some grand transitions, such as revamping the domestic automobile industry into a new morph involving green technology on an unprecedented scale. Why not make a transition at this time and put people to work in a new, productive, profitable paradigm!
    Of course, it is not likely to happen if Old School players make up the team and economic growth remains the principle goal.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • off-topic but wonderfully entertaining and interesting:
    I located the radio program interview with Irish-American author Daniel Cassidy and offer the link to anyone who might want to listen. I highly recommend it for several reasons and the link to the website offering the electronic file is:
    In the early part of the interview, the discussion of Irish people considering themselves to be “Irish” and not “white” includes a little discussion of the word “radical” and comments about why white middle-class culture is a dead end for radicalism. I thought Professor Cassidy had a very interesting, colorful comment that “pretty soon middle class white radicals would have no one to talk to but themselves”.
    Professor Cassidy sings a couple of old songs accompanying himself on guitar and carries out a running commentary while picking his guitar on history of the Irish and the relationships between the immigrant Irish with other nationalities and groups, including African Americans, Mexicans, etc. He mentions the mixed neighborhood in New York where Irish and African Americans mixed and where some black people “learned spoken Irish language at the breast of their Irish mothers”. This includes musician Dizzy Gillespie who came from a black Gaelic speaking family in South Carolina. Cassidy even sings a verse of the old folk song “Get Along Little Doggie” and relates it to its Irish origins and extends the verses to include Jesus and Mary and then to Mexican immigrants Jesus’ and Maria, which I thought was very interesting. He ties in all these cultures into the common “crossroads” of Irish experience.
    And he discusses why prominent African American musicians hate the word “jazz” used to describe their music. That word “jazz” comes from the Irish language and carries a connotation that was distasteful to African American musicians, as Cassidy explains in the interview.
    On a personal note, I recall over the years being asked many times what my ethnic origins are, and I would say either “Texan” (state of my birth and rearing) or I would say “I don’t know if I am Scottish or Irish, but think I am Squeamish”.
    The Cassidy interview/music brought tears to my eyes in parts and I think some others might enjoy it…
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • I suppose I’ve drank the Kool-Aid, but I’m more optimistic than you, Guy. If we’re headed for dire times, and we may very well be, better to have someone whose role model is FDR than, say, Nixon.
    If Obama is a neoconservative, then that that term has been expanded to the point of maximum meaninglessness. Perhaps a bit more by what you mean on that?

  • The evidence suggesting Regan is Obama’s Hero may be weak. From his book Dreams of my Father “…where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds.”
    I believe this maybe more attributed to Obama knowing how to talk without offending too many, especially as elections or inagurations draw near.

  • Some people believe, that Obama become president to help USA make friends with Mussulmanish world.

  • alameda homes
    absolutely agree with the authour, in fact, science is organized knowledge and wisdom is organized life