By Guy R McPherson
03 November, 2009
Nine more banks failed last weekend, bringing the year's total to 115. Along with the banks, one of the largest companies in the country declared bankruptcy, further evidence every large entity in the world will go down with energy availability. Small businesses are joining the fiesta, declaring bankruptcy like Zimbabweans, and the mother of all carry trades is headed for a collapse the size of hell and half of Montana.
If Ben Bernanke and the fools at the Fed actually thought the industrial economy was recovering, they'd jack up interest rates. When the prime rate is up around 5%, you'll know the industrial economy is back on track. Alternatively, you can monitor the extinction rate of non-human species.
The Keynesian approach favored by the Obummer administration is working about as well as pissing in an inferno. Those 640,329 new jobs created by the stimulus package came at a cost of $323,739.83 per job. We'll never pay that tab, of course, because most of us aren't working any more. Hell, half the kids in the country are on food stamps. Furthermore, the latest insult is a drop in the bucket compared to the 2009 deficit, which exceeds $450,000 per U.S. citizen.
We've long used our homes as ATMs, but those days are behind us. Housing prices are expected to continue their decline, dropping a staggering 90%. Suddenly that $6,900 house in Detroit isn't looking so sweet, or so unusual. And commercial real estate is on the leading edge of a huge crash, as you've known for a while if you've been reading this blog. Or, for that matter, any other source of economic news beyond the mainstream media.
The housing mess isn't the only offal stinking up the industrial economy, either. The markets look like the big bubble you blew with an entire pack of Hubba Bubba. And here's a surprise: The recent rise in GDP is a mirage, just like Dow 10,000. As if the stock markets have any relation to reality, now or at any point in the past.
And just when you thought things couldn't get any more entertaining, the feds would like to make the big bank bailouts a permanent scar on your grandchild's checkbook. There's nothing new about this turn of events: It's a classic example of socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor (record-setting bonuses at the end of 2009 will add to the ever-growing list of examples). And if you think Obama is your friend, and will assuage your wounds, you're still drinking the "progressive" Kool-Aid of wishful thinking and ignoring his drive for unlimited power, here and abroad. When questioned, he undoubtedly will perform the infamous act of amnesia we've come to expect from our "leaders" in Washington. Alas, Edward Abbey was correct: "Government should be weak, amateurish and ridiculous. At present, it fulfills only a third of the role." At this juncture, the U.S. cannot even maintain hegemony in Afghanistan because the Taliban will not agree to a backroom power-sharing deal.
The current administration is hardly the first to lie, cheat, and steal from the citizens they claim to serve. Over time, the extent of the immorality has become unbearable. Consider this minor, personal example: I asked for a testimonial regarding my skill as a public speaker from a dear friend and former graduate student who currently works the National Parks Service (which is part of the executive branch, for those of you who missed school that day). After speaking with her supervisor in Washington, she declined. I'm reminded of a line from E.M. Forster: "If I were forced to choose between my country and my friend, I hope I would be brave enough to choose my friend." Here's another relevant line from Edward Abbey: "I would never betray a friend to serve a cause. Never reject a friend to help an institution. Great nations may fall in ruin before I would sell a friend to save them." Sadly, damned few among us are as principled as Forster and Abbey.
The "solutions" to our energy predicament are clogging the airwaves. As if algae will save our dreams of happy motoring. As if building nuclear power plants will provide free electricity. As if algae, plutonium, and uranium come problem-free. As if Transition Towns will allow an orderly, peaceful transition to a trouble-free future. As if maintaining industrial culture in smaller form will magically stop destroying the living planet.
Industrial civilization is hardly the first civilization to outstrip resources critical to human life, thereby committing cultural suicide. But it's the first to make a serious run at murdering the entire living planet, and American Empire is coming to a close far sooner than most people thought possible. Soon, the lights go out, which brings down every aspect of western civilization.
Finally, for those of you who've made it this far, please pardon this short commercial message:
I will be delivering a presentation in Tempe, Arizona on the evening of Friday, 13 November 2009. The title: "Durable living in the 21st century: Planning for energy decline and climate change." The time: 6:30 p.m. The venue: a hotel near Tempe Town Lake (Aloft Hotel, perhaps -- details to follow in a future post).
This event comes immediately after Greenbuild Expo 2009. The American Institute of Architecture for Students (AIAS) wants to follow the lofty theory of the Expo with a few words about taking action.
Those, I can provide.
I hope to meet some of you there.