The many miles and frequent pauses reveal to any sentient animal the sheer lunacy of the living arrangements we’ve built for ourselves. Within the span of a couple generations, we abandoned a durable, finely textured, life-affirming set of living arrangements characterized by self-sufficient family farms intermixed with small towns that provided commerce, services, and culture. Worse yet, we traded that model for a coarse-scaled arrangement wholly dependent on ready access to cheap fossil fuels. Then we ratcheted up the madness to rely on businesses that use, almost exclusively, a warehouse-on-wheels approach to just-in-time delivery of unnecessary devices designed for rapid obsolescence and disposal.
The next case of $120 oil, assuming we get there before the industrial economy falls into the abyss, will be brutal for an already over-stretched American consumer. Banks are falling like dominoes on a mule cart over the bumpy terrain of declining energy supplies. When will the lights go out?
It’s rally time on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a positive day for the eighth day in a row to hit a year-long high amidst the longest streak since April of 2007. Before you get too excited about this bit of green-shoots news from the boys on murderer’s row, let’s consider the cause and consequences.
Occasionally when people talk to me about my new life in and around the mud hut, their conclusions include one of the following statements: (1) You’re selfishly wasting your talent as an excellent and inspiring teacher. You should be teaching at the university, saving students, instead of preparing for economic collapse. (2) Don’t be silly. The United States cannot suffer economic collapse.
My responses go something like this:
I used to believe the bankruptcy of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation would have substantial implications. The FDIC officially ran out of money last Friday when they shuttered the usual handful of banks. When they close another handful this Friday — conveniently out of the media’s not-so-watchful eye — they’ll have exactly nothing with which to back up the deposits. Since backing up deposits in failed banks is the FDIC’s entire mission, this should cause the financial system to fail overnight.
The twin sides of our fossil-fuel addiction — energy decline and global climate change — are the most important topics we can address as a species. The national conversation ignores or marginalizes these critical topics. On the rare occasion they inadvertently come up, we act like a roomful of eight-year-olds with plates full of peas and mashed potatoes, pushing the main course around without actually ingesting it, wishing for the distraction of dessert.
I’ve dug trenches (requiring only a strong back and a weak mind, so it’s the perfect job for me) in which to install water lines, and even installed a
near the chicken coop and duck house (I’m a plumber). This morning I laid
in the outdoor kitchen (I’m a mason). I’ve built several awnings for tools and shade, along with a few structures for animals (I’m a rough carpenter). And we’re growing considerable food, planted from seed, in our own garden beds and also in a neighbor’s field (I’m a sharecropper). My two favorite titles, then, are Professor Emeritus and Sharecropper.