Time for a Revolution

Not so long ago, $60 oil represented a dire threat to the U.S. (hence, world) economy. Now that we’ve seen a price spike and a rapid decline down to half the current price and one-fifth last summer’s peak, Wall Street cheers expensive oil because it profits the oil companies.
You gotta love the media, loving Wall Street for loving the oil companies.

Even though the mainstream media occasionally mention the emerging reality of hyperinflation — including comparisons to Zimbabwe’s 200 million percent — they, more often than not, keep wondering when the recovery will be complete. Check any station, any newspaper, and you’ll see misguided economists claiming the turnaround will be complete this year or next. Could they really be so stupid?

Apparently so, yes. Never mind the collapse in jobs, which grows worse with every new reading. Never mind the accelerating collapse of the housing market, with no end in sight. Never mind the clear historical and contemporary relationship between low interest rates (the Fed’s ongoing strategy) and hyperinflation, or the completely upside-down nature of the bond market, which indicates more inflation on the way. Never mind the printing presses running flat out even though tax revenues are falling precipitously (if you think increasing spending as your income falls is not a problem, try it sometime and let me know how it works for you). Never mind that, despite all the fiat currency in the system, there’s still no federal money to bail out your bank when it fails. Last year, when the FDIC could backstop about one percent of the accounts they insured, the situation was dire. Now, however, when they can cover a quarter that amount, the media don’t bat a collective eye.

At this point, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Or, according to one prominent consultant for the retail industry says, if you’re not petrified, you’re not paying attention.

What the hell’s the matter with people in this country? What’ll take to start a legitimate revolution?

Do we need to have our elected officials scream “terrorist” about North Korea while ignoring terrorism in the Middle East at the hand of U.S.-funded Israel? Nope, that’s not doing the trick. Do we truly have no moral compass? Have we lost our way so badly we care more about cheap entertainment than life itself? Please, don’t answer that. Instead, let’s all go to the movies. Lacking money for that, let’s turn up the television, tune into video games, or download free porn from the Internet.

Yeah, life’s tough, isn’t it? Good thing we’re the chosen ones, blessed by gawd herself to live our bountiful lives without paying the slightest attention to suffering, dying, extinction, capitalism for the poor, or socialism for the rich.

And yet, it could be worse. We could be living in China, where the government is so conflicted they can’t decide if they should be more concerned about the U.S. destroying the industrial economy by printing money or by joining with the U.S. to exacerbate runaway climate change. Tough call: Your money or your life. Far too tough for most Americans and their politicians.

Here’s a hint, though: If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.

And while we’re on the subject of counting money, the Arctic is suddenly full of oil, according to this headline. Hallelujah, the economy is saved. Wake-up call: The source of the report is the liars eternally optimistic “scientists” at the U.S. Geological Survey. And the “journalist” admits, down there in the middle of the article in a couple cryptic paragraphs that should be the lead, that the total oil supply will meet current world demand for five years, tops. That is, if it actually comes online. He also failed to point out that Mexico’s oil exports are plummeting as the vaunted Cantarell field — until recently the second-largest in the world — is losing serious steam, and also the prediction from the International Energy Agency’s chief economist that oil prices will spike because oil companies have canceled so many projects.

Stunningly, a few Americans are waking up to the notion of an ambiguous future. Not so stunningly, the media continue to treat them as if they’re lunatics living on the fringe, although the reporting isn’t nearly as disparaging in tone as it was a year or two ago.

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now, back to the television.

Comments 16

  • I loved Davidowitz’ understatement, “Living standards will never be the same.” Gee, ya think?!? I too heard just this morning the crowing of an economist cheerfully predicting that recovery will occur as early as the third quarter of this year. Guess he put on his “sucker’s rally” cap along with his blindfold.
    In other news, my recent gardening-induced sunburn reminded me to add an aloe plant to my list of necessary medicinal plants – not that I intend to subject my skin to sunburn again, but accidents do happen. Unfortunately I cannot seem to find aloe in local nurseries, which puzzles me because 20 or 30 years ago everyone I knew had one in their kitchen window.

  • I have never heard this analysis before anywhere, but what is going on right now is very reminiscent of the Cold War, which was a military competition with low numbers of outright casualties but enormouse spending, which always profits the investor class. That Cold War has bequeathed us an economic war of competition that utilizes a major tactic of the military version, called the threat of Mutually Asssured Destruction (MAD). The Chinese have options that could destroy our economy, but in so doing, they would reap the harvest of their own destroyed economy. So, the two sides thrust and parry and there is no telling exactly what is being said by the diplomats, such as when Hillary Clinton speaks directly to high Chinese officials. I am sure there are overt threats being passed back and forth, but the pain experienced on both sides is tiny compared to what would happen if full scale economic warfare broke out. The U.S. has little capacity to save the world, but immense capacity to destroy it.
    For now, quality of life is beginning to concern the great unwashed masses, but in the foreseeable future the sustainability of life will be called into question.
    It also occurs to me that the complex interconnection between Peak Oil and global climate change will force more pain on the populace, possibly starting this summer. I would not be surprised if one artifact of increased warming and drying of wild environments will be a proliferation of wildfires in western North America and elsewhere. The day is coming when fuel to operate firefighting aircraft (planes and helicopters) will be so expensive and scarce (or beyond budgetary means in bankrupt states like California) that firefighting will be compromised. I predict future conflagrations that would not have been conceivable in past generations beginning to become more or less routine in the next few years, like repeats of the famous Oakland Hills fire of a few years ago. Oil and water will become more precious that habitat for humanity and I suspect we will see a rolling back of the human footprint in certain fire-prone areas for that reason and that reason alone.
    And then things will get even worse… We have shot ourselves in the foot and we will have to amputate in order to save life, if that is still possible. Remember Captain Augustus McRae in the film Lonesome Dove and his inglorious ending.
    Stan Moore

  • Stan, thanks for this thoughtful analysis. I encourage you to submit it, perhaps after adding another example or two, to an outlet where it will have a broader audience, such as Energy Bulletin (http://www.energybulletin.net/user) or Counter Currents (http://countercurrents.org/articles.htm).
    Wendy, your comment reminds me that many people were more self-reliant 30 years ago. Sigh.

  • “If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money.”
    Good line. I’m going to steal it. Is it yours, or are you quoting?

  • Court, I think it’s my line … but I’ve been using it so long it might have come from somebody else, a long time ago. Google turns up a similar quote from 2004 here in a post by Stan Rowe, ecologist, on the Ecological Society of America’s listserv. But Rowe puts it in quotes, as if it’s not his. I think ecologists have been bandying around this idea for a long time.

  • Howard Davidowitz is one of the few bright bulbs on CNBC.His most telling comment was”we’ll all be farmers”–he understands.
    In fact I believe Our Professor Emeritus and Davidowitz are the two smartest economists around.

  • Memo to Court:
    Nepotistic,Nattering,Nephew,Nabob of Negativism (I’m so pleased with myself for coming up with that !!) where have you been ?

  • “Lament for your world,
    for tomorrow will rise,
    as the riches are gleaned from the earth,
    death will be heard,
    lament again, for you are alive”
    I hear your exasperation Guy,
    but seriously what are you gonna do?
    What can anyone do, try mentioning
    the challenges of energy descent
    to your elected officials. They want
    to build more car parks in our
    townships here. WTF! Everyone here
    at work is talking about the size of their
    recently purchased big TVs (seriously).
    I said to several colleagues this morning,
    but there is nothing on TV worth watching.
    Why would anyone want to exaggerate the
    intellectual void that the zombie box
    represents? The nausea of our cultures ‘noise’.
    I also said that those big TVs will end up as
    land fill one day. Even the values of your friends and
    cultural kin can be the antithesis of your own.
    fellow exasperant

  • Still here, still hanging on, still trying to make the best of my corner of the world while it exists. Will do the same if it all comes crashing down tomorrow.
    I’m on call for the DAT team this week/weekend.
    So it goes, a day at a time.

  • Charlene:
    What is the DAT team ? Disaster Action Team,Dine About Town,Disability Action Team,or Dopamine Transporter?? Hundreds of acroynms listed on line,which one is yours?

  • “the earth is your own,
    bare witness to the longing,
    the parting is formed in time long ago,
    to break now is to fore go,
    lessen the burden and give life
    to the living”
    The thing I don’t get about GM
    is the fact that the 80% of chapter 11
    bankrupts fail within 5 years.
    The government wants to be seen to be
    doing something. If GM was liquidated
    the republicans would have field day at
    the next election. Perhaps its all
    political, the democrats are worried
    about re-election. 30billion + another 50billion,
    the taxpayers will never see this money again.
    80% of the company will be owned by the
    government and the unions. The governments
    are good for many things, (health care, education,
    old age pension and benefits etc), I would of thought
    that running a car factory is not one of them.
    Sounds like communism or equivalent, ie keep the factory
    stamping out those widgets even though nobody
    wants them. I cant see what all the fuss is about.
    Let the company fail. I worked in a car factory during
    a summer 20 years ago. It was the most dehumanising,
    boring, life destroying job I have ever done, a nutless
    monkey could do the work. The economy has moved on,
    society no longer needs that many cars. Motor mechanics
    have never been busier keeping the existing fleet
    on the road. As it should be, extending the life of
    manufactured products as long as possible.
    still no egg…

  • Disaster action team…although, Frank, I must say Dopamine Transporter and Dining About Town sound like fun.

  • The number of auto companies asking for a bailout or receiving one is staggering. Sure we all know about Ford, Chrysler and GM, but Toyota, Honda, Nissan(?), Saab, Volvo, Volkswagen, Kia(?) have all asked or received a bailout of some form. Its not that GM is making cars that won’t sell. Nearly everyone is making cars that will not sell. There are few people who could stomach such a economic collapse of all these companies.
    But the point remains, we need to build an economy where people are employed without pillaging nature or employed because other people buy wanton stuff.
    I have no viable solutions (without decreasing every American’s pay, US household income ~$45,000 world household income ~$6,000, and pay decreases didn’t work in the great depression I don’t think they will work now).

  • Memo to Professor Emeritus:
    Perceive plentiful, panegyrics,platitudes,and praise for our popular past professor.
    However we now need to know when this will all go to your head.
    Please advise.