I’ve long recognized the two-party, one-ideology basis of American politics, and I was calling Barack Obama a neoconservative long before it was popular to recognize him as the Teflon President 2.0. But even I can hardly believe this tidbit from a guy I thought was pretty damned smart: From the I-cannot-believe-this-is-happening camp, Obama is appointing a Monsanto man as food safety czar. Welcome to Farmageddon, land of the free.
I fully expect Obama to cave into the richest one percent of Americans, yet again, on the issue of health care. The wealthiest one percent in this country has never had it so good — their share of this country’s total income is the highest it’s been since 1929 — and many of them will profit from the $23 trillion in bailout largess the Treasury Department now says could be headed to financial firms. Now they’re launching an attack on health care, because the current system is perfect for them. It allows rich folks ready access to the best doctors while the rest of us have to wait incessantly for overpriced treatment of limited value. FDR warned us about this the last time we were in the midst of a Great Depression, but the corporate goons won that battle (like most of the others, before and after).
While he’s propping up the rich by destroying the middle class, Obama’s solution to the financial crisis is to run the printing presses as rapidly as possible, thereby generating a massive deficit. Even the projections of his own government hacks don’t have us getting a handle on this deficit before Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security go belly-up.
At the same time he’s destroying our future, Obama is making the classic, oft-repeated error of pursuing war in Afghanistan. Although the likely consequences include U.S. bankruptcy, even I have a hard time fully supporting Obama’s bloodlust for killing citizens who already find themselves firmly in the stone age. In response to Obama’s imperial overreach in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Chalmers Johnson is wisely recommending we dismantle the empire. I don’t see a lot of support for Johnson’s excellent idea, because our society is firmly committed to twittering while Obama burns our future. Most Americans have not learned anything from history, and therefore will support Obama as he commits us to a trifecta of consequences seen throughout the history of the world: imperial overstretch, perpetual war, and insolvency. Johnson indicates this is “leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former Soviet Union.” He makes it sound like a bad thing.
As the empire crumbles, a few voices in cyberspace have us going back to 1910. They recognize that our culture — which they know possesses us, not the other way around — is fatally destructive to the biosphere, and that we might have to go back to tying our shoes, cleaning our floors with mops, and churning butter. But they can’t imagine much further back than a Model T in every garage and train service connecting the nation. I can. But perhaps I’m just a hopelessly romantic uber-optimist.
As it turns out, revised data indicate that this particular “recession” is worse than prior estimates. The first 12 months saw the economy shrink more than twice as much as previously estimated, reflecting even bigger declines in consumer spending and housing. And, by the way, the housing recovery really isn’t one. If you want to derive any equity from your house, it’s time to sell. On the heels of the collapse of the residential housing market comes an even bigger blow to the economy: the commercial sector is toast, too.
Even Ben Bernanke is waking up to reality, finally admitting the current economy may be worse than Great Depression. He goes on to say growth will resume at 1% in the second half of this year, thus echoing mainstream
economists court jesters who have been calling the current quarter the “bottom” of the recession for several quarters in a row. Green shoots, anybody? Mustard seeds? If you find ’em, you’d better eat ’em. It could be a while between meals.
In contrast to Benny and the jesters, Marketwatch is giving investment advice about the end of civilization. And just when you thought the news couldn’t get any better, Business Week says we’re likely headed for another oil shock, albeit worse than any previous one.
At some point, perhaps mainstream economists will recognize the link between energy prices and the economy. But since virtually none of them have noticed a spike in energy prices preceded 10 of the last 11 recessions, including the latest 3 big ones, I’m not terribly hopeful they’ll ever recognize it’s time for them to start thinking the unthinkable: the myth of perennial economic growth is dead..
And lest you think I’m calling for personal responsibility to solve our myriad problems, I know better. Personal responsibility is just another excuse for passing the buck to individuals, as if you and I had a damned thing to do with either of the twin evils of the fossil-fuel coin. We don’t run this civilization, folks, so we’re not to blame for runaway greenhouse or the economic consequences of declining energy supplies. Indeed, we need go back only 52 years to find powerful military voices recognizing the importance of oil and other fossil fuels to the maintenance of American power and western civilization.
Despite the unbridled optimism of left-leaning “scientists,” it’s almost certainly too late to save civilization and our species without bringing down the industrial economy. Another oil shock or two and we’re headed right back to the stone age, and just in time to save the living planet and therefore our species’ only chance of persisting beyond the current century
More good news: Increasing evidence, along with this anecdote, indicate you can stop sending your children to the K-12 concentration camps we call schools (actually, we’d have been a lot better off had we done so years ago). It’s too late for these institutions to rebuild the thinking class. They’re too busy promoting capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich.
This entry was inspired by numerous comments from Stan Moore.