Now that the Fed has cut interest rates as low as it dares and the economy is still in the tank, the Fed is going public with the strategy it’s been using for the last year: printing money. ‘Cause that worked so well for the Weimar Republic. The strategy led to Germany’s fall and Hitler’s rise. In the present case, it’ll probably delay a world economic collapse for a few weeks or months. But the long-term effects will be horrific. Not that any civilized government has ever cared about long-term effects.
Ben Bernanke surely knows the consequences of printing money. But he’s stuck squarely between the irresistible force of an economy in its death spiral and the immovable object of the world population demanding economic growth. Economic growth is possible only with ready access to inexpensive energy. Lacking free will (but not freedom of choice, as I’ve indicated before), Ben is compelled by history and his unrelenting belief in empire to prop us the economy for a few more weeks, regardless of the long-term costs.
People have been calling me a pessimist lately — no, really — and, compelled by my absence of free will, I must respond. Yes, I am fully aware of the unimaginable human suffering headed our way when the industrial economy collapses. And yes, I am fully aware of the associated large-scale die-off on the near horizon (but contrary to this video, I think the demise of Western civilization dictates the continued persistence of our species, rather than our extinction). We cannot help other species and cultures, or even our own species, by extending the population overshoot with a few more years, or even months, of the status quo. A fast collapse is the most humane “solution” for which we can hope, whether we’re concerned about species, cultures, or industrial humans.
I realize there are about a dozen people in the world who agree with me. On the other hand, I cannot find much merit in the arguments of the countless people who disagree. As I understand the arguments, they can be distilled into two categories: (1) we need, and will soon find, a cheap energy source, and (2) we need to get along with each other.
Well, that’s not asking so much, is it? Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if I’ve misrepresented the arguments. I’d hate to win this argument. But if I’m going to win the argument, I’d hate to win it by employing the underhanded trick of mischaracterizing the issues.
The odds of discovering, developing, and distributing another cheap energy source in the absence of cheap oil? About a kajillion to one, if I had to give odds. Nuclear was promised as the energy “too cheap to meter,” and, of all the standard energy sources, it’s the most expensive (in every conceivable way). Now that we’re on the leading edge of the Greatest Depression, we’ll need to research and develop this as-yet-undiscovered energy source on the most threadbare of shoestring budgets. Federal and state budgets are far too constrained to spend freely on an energy dream, even if anybody could see one on the horizon (and, by the way, they can’t). When federal and state governments fail (if you look closely, you’ll notice a few of them are staring into the abyss already), and every other large entity follows (ditto), who’s in charge of realizing the energy dream? After we find the miraculous energy source, then develop it so we can put some in our gas tanks, we need to distribute it. And we need to get this done within a year, before the world’s industrial economy completely collapses into a Jello-wiggly mass of yesterday’s fantasies. You might as well put some wishing in your gas tank.
And, since energy too cheap to meter will lead to an increased human population on Earth, we need to overcome all future limits to growth, too. These range from abundant supplies of clean air and water to readily accessible food and, of course, cheap plastic crap. In other words, once we “cure” our energy addiction by producing more energy, we need to stave off war for all future resources as we continue to pile people onto a shrinking planet plagued with too many people and too little biological diversity. Staving off war in light of the burgeoning human population, even with increasingly abundant air, water, food, and I-pods, will require us to overcome 3.6 billion years of evolution. In contrast, keeping the cars running on wishful thinking is the least of our problems.
To summarize, then, here’s the agenda, to be completed within a year or two: (1) find, develop, and distribute an energy source too cheap to meter, and (2) overcome evolution.
I might be stupid (I’ve often been told as much, and I have little evidence to the contrary), I might be irrational (ditto), and I’m undoubtedly insane (just ask any administrator at my place of employment). But the mud hut is looking like a better investment with every passing day.