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I'm usually known as one of the doomers'n'gloomers round here, with diaries and comments on the economy heavily leaning towards negative views. And to a large extent, I still stand by these positions and fully expect (i) the economy to dive again and (ii) an even worse financial crisis coming our way.

I'm also part of the peak oil / peak resources crowd, and do not consider our current civilisation, especially as hundreds of millions in emerging markets rush to embrace it, to be sustainable. The Chinese and Indians and others cannot all live with the same resource consumption as we currently have in the West, and something will have to give at some point.

And this is a matter of years rather than decades, and most of us here will get to see that problem 'solve' itself. And of course, climate change adds a whole other dimension to that emergency.

But, surprisingly, I also have a number of arguments to be optimistic for the medium term, ie that let me hope that I will not spend my late years in poverty and/or in the middle of societal collapse.

First, on the economy. The one thing I would like to point out is that we lived, in the past couple decades, at a time when several unique factors combined to create a kind of "perfect storm" which brought us the biggest bubble in history.

  • the first factor has been the end of the Soviet Union, and the discredit it brought to economic theories competing with "free markets." Coming at a time when our keynesian-drive economies were going through various strains (stagflation, etc - arguably brought about by our first collision of the industrial age with serious resource constraints), it provided fertile ground for ideological proponents of privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts, unfettered free-trade and pro-corporatist policies. The left has been struggling to fight back against the "socialism = fail, markets = freedom" meme reinforced by the powerful symbolism of the Berlin Wall falling; markets - in an extremist, ideology-driven version pushed by corpocratists and oligarchs - took over, in particuar financial markets, which have extended their reach into every aspect of our lives and have become the only judge of any and all public activity;
  • the second factor has been the rather brutal entry on the global market of the Chinese and Indian workforces. When you increase the supply of a good, in this case labor, its price tends to go down, and this is what has happened, in the form of outsourcing, unemployment and/or stagnant wages in the West. It was made easy by free trade and capital flow liberalisation in the newly emerging markets, and faster thanks to the progress in telecommunications and travel. This trend is partly linked to the first one above, but it is largely a matter of chance that China's opening to the world happened right at the time when its working age population was growing;
  • the third factor is that our economies benefitted from a "last gasp" in the availability of resources - it is hard to underestimate the boost that was provided by (i) the North Sea and Alaska/Gulf of Mexico (domestic oil, accessible at no political cost, which helped make it look like the oil scares of the 70s were just a one-off) and (ii) the incredible growth in Chinese coal production in the past 10 years (ALL of the world GDP growth in that period can be explained by higher primary energy availability, which has come exclusively from higher Chinese coal output); the past 30 years were therefore a period when both labor and energy were plentiful, and thus (relatively scarcer) capital could dictate its terms;

This period is coming to an end.

Resource constraints are reasserting themselves. The extremist push by the largely parasitic oligarchic class to capture an ever increasing chunk of wealth is being stopped by the fact that parasites are only successful when they don't kill their host, and right now the middle classes whose productivity they have successfully harnessed for their sole benefit are barren. China's drive to do all our pollution for us is choking the country. Their coal is likely to run out soon, at current rates of production, and production growth. And, more importantly, they are undergoing a major demographic transition, as a result of the one-child policy of the past decades. Their working age population will soon decline - the all-important 20-39 demographic is already declining.

Right now, it doesn't look like things will soon turn out badly for the oligarchs. After all, they managed to  increase their grip on our politicians during the great financial crisis, imposing a bailout of themselves over actually saving the economy. The political classes, mass media and more generally the Serious People all think that things are going well and that their ideology has been, once again, successfully pushed onto a hapless populace.

And we haven't fully paid the price of the excesses of the past decade. The mountain of debt which was used to hide the wholesale looting of the middle classes is still hanging over us; the prosperity of the future which has been captured already by the wealthy through financial shenanigans will not be available to us now, barring a massive debt repudiation which applies to other instruments than our pensions ; the resource constraint, which temporarily subsided as the economy crashed is still waiting for us around the corner.

So, why the optimism?

  • as noted, the consequences of the Chinese demographic transition are hard to overstate. Labor constraints are going to become a global reality once again, as no other third world country will be able to replace the Chinese on anything near the scale required. With increasing wages in China many things change: the lure of offshorisation fades, Chinese domestic demand (suppressed so far) will increase, and the Chinese themselves are going to ask for better environmental and work standards. This will translate into more demand for Western workers, and thus an end to labor cost erosion - and to living standards stagnation;
  • the resource constraint is going to become a permanent feature, forcing us (and the Chinese) to change the structure of our economies. Pain, but also a lot of economic activity, will come from our necessary adaptation to lower energy availability. A lot of work will be required on infrastructure and green technologies, both of which are (i) jobs intensive and (ii) structurally hard to offshore.  And they require investment in the real economy, which is exactly what the oligarchs have been skimming off on. And it's not like they will have a choice: you cannot cheat the laws of nature like you can cheat the "laws" of economics; and the so-far compliant/distracted/fearmongered populace will balk at doing without electricity or blaming brownouts on brown people...; it's already happening: more wind farms have been built than traditional power plants in recent years in the West, while oil and electricity consumption are dropping quite spectacularly;
  • and the good news is that we actually have the technologies available to do the transition. We know how to do building weatherisation; we know how to scale up renewable energy; we know how to do public transport and smart grids: what's been missing is the political framework to make it happen.

Right now, it may look like if anything, the political framework is still moving in the wrong direction and, worse, if there is any popular backlash, it seems more likely to come in the form of a reactionary populism (ie scapegoating, fearmongering fascism) than the required progressive soak-the-rich kind. But while you can debase a currency and lie to people, you can't cheat with nature. You can't print megawatthours or joules or molecules of helium or rare earth metals. You can't drink poisoned water or non existent water. At some point, the very survival of any form of public authority will be at stake, and politicians will suddenly remember that States have incredible powers, do not actually need to be subversient to short term private oligarchic interests, and will start yielding that power towards strategic objectives.

And when the goal is full scale mobilisation towards survival, resources will go where they need to go, not to death-inducing capture by parasites.

Of course, this begs the question of what will trigger this survival mechanism. Do we need to get to the brink, and see thing worsen yet again (possibly a lot more) before we get there? I guess this is where my optimism comes in: I think the natural constraints are going to come for a while in the form of steadily increasing constraints (via prices, for instance) rather than outright shortages, and this will trigger enough action to move us on a different path, even if this is not immediately obvious. Oil at $70 per barrel in the midst of a massive recession and demand reduction is an unmistakable sign. Or, in other words, the one hundred billion euros in the stimulus and TARP that went to renewable energy and bailing out GM will matter more, ultimately, than the trillions handed out to banks and bondholders, as one created or saved vital industrial infrastructure while the other just moved some electrons around, with no large scale long term consequences in the real world. And if it takes yet more trillion-scale hand outs of fiat money to the parasites to authorise yet more real investment, this is the sneaky route that our adaptation to reality will take.

Or who knows, maybe we'll get a real leader one of these days, able to steer us away from the wall before we actually hit it and get hurt. Now believing in that would be wildly optimistic!

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:50 AM PDT.

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  •  Doing my part (415+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, Jim J, Lupin, JekyllnHyde, Ed in Montana, Terri, northsylvania, Linnaeus, Mogolori, nolalily, comrade, Odysseus, left of center, Detlef, Rolfyboy6, Powered Grace, msl, mimi, PeterHug, RunawayRose, surfbird007, Khun David, alicia, Shockwave, wu ming, LynChi, tacet, cotterperson, byoungbl, shycat, LEP, eeff, Mnemosyne, x, TarheelDem, ZAPatty, Zach in Phoenix, MarkInSanFran, PBCliberal, RubDMC, Addison, rasbobbo, Gustogirl, unonymous, bronte17, mftalbot, Shadan7, elveta, ATinNM, bluesteel, mikidee, SCFrog, carolina stargazer, Stumptown Dave, mkfarkus, taonow, ivote2004, Boston to Salem, Miss Blue, oceanview, corncam, Major Tom, fumie, Jesterfox, splashy, sidnora, wader, SneakySnu, tidalwave1, nicta, Eric Blair, psnyder, mrkvica, Miss Jones, CitizenOfEarth, virginislandsguy, superscalar, gmb, kj in missouri, BMarshall, Nemagaiq, flatford39, DSC on the Plateau, dwahzon, Chirons apprentice, Catte Nappe, RebeccaG, grrr, lcrp, alizard, Pohjola, DelicateMonster, ybruti, side pocket, KayCeSF, NapaJulie, JayDean, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, Wife of Bath, Deward Hastings, ScienceMom, Little Red Hen, bablhous, eztempo, duende, murrayewv, donailin, sawgrass727, Gowrie Gal, Jersey Joe, Julie Gulden, Big Tex, bowtieguru, chumley, ExStr8, bloomer 101, radarlady, 3goldens, NoMoreLies, TexasTom, denise b, yuriwho, JanetT in MD, unclejohn, SherwoodB, ArchTeryx, Flint, willibro, kamarvt, Simplify, truong son traveler, eightlivesleft, drewfromct, david78209, Laurence Lewis, Pam from Calif, Mr X, where4art, aaraujo, ladybug53, rosabw, Donutd1967, Ice Blue, Sandino, WisePiper, The Raven, Ginny in CO, coolbreeze, Eileen B, the fan man, Margouillat, JanL, Ekaterin, psyched, zozie, ChuckInReno, fhcec, xaxnar, Jim P, maryru, begone, Born in NOLA, Paul Ferguson, BachFan, Keone Michaels, Milly Watt, vigilant meerkat, 417els, MeMeMeMeMe, Opakapaka, dharmafarmer, Kimball Cross, tonyahky, ActivistGuy, victoria2dc, koNko, buhdydharma, arlene, blueoasis, NBBooks, StrayCat, A Siegel, paul2port, Dauphin, bleeding heart, Preston S, MarciaJ720, mhw, ER Doc, istari5th, wargolem, dirkster42, profh, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, MrJersey, means are the ends, frankzappatista, RantNRaven, respectisthehub, PhilW, kurious, CharlieHipHop, Hedwig, blueintheface, ms badger, Oothoon, DBunn, Cliss, Thinking Fella, seabos84, bigchin, clinging to hope, One Pissed Off Liberal, pgm 01, lightfoot, DorothyT, dotsright, Loudoun County Dem, dmh44, possum, mamabigdog, vets74, Pupmonkey, yoduuuh do or do not, Outrider, karmsy, Van Buren, FishOutofWater, Sydserious, Mary Mike, CTDemoFarmer, la urracca, HeartlandLiberal, terabytes, ezdidit, deepeco, eOz, Unbozo, newpioneer, RosyFinch, Desbrisay, rivamer, mcgee85, SeaTurtle, bobswern, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, Rumarhazzit, uciguy30, Brahman Colorado, LWelsch, keikekaze, Terra Mystica, TomP, gregsullmich, rmonroe, Light Emitting Pickle, kafkananda, KLS, seriously70, sk4p, edg, JeffW, wayoutinthestix, Steve15, MikePhoenix, bill warnick, Involuntary Exile, angel65, bythesea, Cat Servant, lineatus, jamess, beltane, monkeybrainpolitics, baldski, moose67, Happy Days, Calamity Jean, Lujane, Jake Williams, rubine, envwq, mofembot, ashowboat, codairem, luckylizard, nzanne, allie123, priceman, magicsister, dmhlt 66, dzog, David Futurama, SolarMom, lissablack, CoEcoCe, Johnny Venom, LaFeminista, lancecote, enemy of the people, loftT, Leftcenterlibertarian, Neon Vincent, MTmarilyn, ARS, sustainable, ceebee7, greengemini, timethief, CanyonWren, be the change you seek, Sarge in Seattle, maryabein, RandomActsOfReason, bigmikek7, Nailbanger, Fixed Point Theorem, mississippi boatrat, zbbrox, elziax, asym, oxfdblue, sanglug, allep10, blueocean, DreamyAJ, strangedemocracy, jfromga, ohmyheck, Tommymac, purplepenlady, Leftcandid, French Imp, Cleopatra, cassandraX, Railfan, BigVegan, swaminathan, RhymesWithUrple, Otherday, flitedocnm, patrickz, Jez, LaughingPlanet, psfinla, Susan from 29, citizen31, wvmom, ATFILLINOIS, ItsSimpleSimon, SoCalHobbit, TofG, Egalitare, NYWheeler, Earth Ling, JRandomPoster, Funkygal, Publius2008, Betty Pinson, skillet, al ajnabee, kerflooey, ozsea1, slowbutsure, implicate order, cv lurking gf, cooper888, Possiamo, BlueJessamine, BlackQueen40, soothsayer99, itzik shpitzik, Situational Lefty, protean4f, LousyDeemo, Teiresias70, princesspat, Haf2Read, marleycat, RadicalRoadRat, dle2GA, muddy boots, leftymama, docmidwest, worldlotus, jgnyc, Joe Johnson, kevinpolk9, Imhotepsings, Marihilda, SoCalSal, Ezekial 23 20, RLMiller, StepLeftStepForward, lol chikinburd, MichaelNY, PrometheusUnbound, No one gets out alive, Azazello, Jim Saul, BlueDragon, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, pawtucketpat, damfino, delmardougster, ahumbleopinion, dance you monster, oldcrow, Joieau, Crikes a Crocus, jan4insight, PhoenixAshram

    Using me as a banker to get these built surely qualifies as "sneaky". But it's happening (with my help, as an advisor to the project):

    C-Power confirms $1.23bn loans for Thornton Bank

    C-Power has pinned down €950m ($1.23bn) in loans for the second phase of Belgium’s Thornton Bank, in what amounts to the largest financial package ever assembled for an offshore wind project.

  •  I am pessimistic on all counts (18+ / 0-)

    Unemployment and foreclosures are getting worse. Global Warming appears to be greater than we thought. Floods, droughts, fires, wind storms, are happening at a greater frequency indicative of global warming.

    Instead of dealing with the serious problems people are yelling about mosques near ground zero, as if a nuclear bomb had exploded. First amendment and strip clubs be damned.

    I think change is upon us and we are fucked.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:59:00 AM PDT

  •  Just curious--why does one of your tags (7+ / 0-)

    say "Not Barack Obama"?

  •  "Perfect storm" (5+ / 0-)

    Forgive me a moment, Jerome, while I go off on a tangent that has virtually nothing to do with what you've written (which was lovely), except one phrase you used...

    "Perfect storm."

    I hate that phrase. I really,really hate it. Not only has it been done to death, but it makes no sense. What's so "perfect" about a storm that destroys everything in its path? I guess, yeah, okay, there's a kind of savage beauty in the totality of nature's utter destructiveness in one of these purportedly once-in-a-lifetime things... but there again - these "perfect storms" keep cropping up again and again and again, don't they?

    In nature, in society, in politics - these supposedly rare creatures just seem to be EVERYWHERE, don't they?

    "Perfect," my ass. Seems like they're just a bunch of tantrummy children run amok. Metaphorically speaking.

    /tangent

  •  Americans used to always be on the cutting edge (8+ / 0-)

    of new technology.....but we've become lazy and complacent.  The "hit you in the face" reality will again spur us to get moving, and I'm optimistic that it will happen sooner rather than later.  My biggest concern is the overpopulation of our planet by wasteful humans, most of whom have little or no regard for the other life forms we which we share this pale blue dot.  How are we going to control our numbers, our waste, our abuse of resources etc. as we move into the future?  

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:02:34 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for doing your part...... (6+ / 0-)

    My children and my grandchildren need all of us to do the same.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:02:57 AM PDT

  •  After a really thought-provoking diary.... (14+ / 0-)

    ...the last sentence is gratuitous, kinda cheap. One politician is not going to lead the way.

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:07:01 AM PDT

    •  No wealthy country has shown leadership (14+ / 0-)

      at the top of the political structure. It's shocking.

      This isn't a cheap shot at Obama who leads one of the hardest countries to turn around on energy policy.

      look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:32:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree. Pointing out (10+ / 0-)

      reality isn't a cheap shot at the president. The truth is, President Obama has been far too accomodating of companies and individuals responsible for terrible damage done to our country. As bobswern says, we desperately need a "real" leader. We need a "real" congress, too. What we don't need are the two horribly corrupt political parties. We need our leaders to stop whoring for corporate campaign cash. We need them to govern for the common good. It's hardly complicated: Institute public campaign financing--no private contributions whatsoever--and jail violators. Tax the rich, who have prospered beyond their wildest dreams and desserts and can well afford to pay their fair share. Tax the corporations. See to it workers can earn a living wage. Institute universal single-payer healthcare. Put white-collar criminals on trial and imprison them when they're convicted. Stop the treasury-draining wars. Etcetera, etcetera--this stuff is not orbital mathematics. Everybody knows what must be done. As I'm sure you also know, in the long run governing fairly would be the most patriotic of all their possible choices. The country's future quite literally depends on their doing so, before it's too late.

      As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

      by Wom Bat on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:05:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops, I called Jerome bobswern. My goof, sorry. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, 3goldens, dharmafarmer

        (Wipes egg offa face.)

        As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

        by Wom Bat on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:06:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Reality? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, kj in missouri

        What's real about a laundry list of for-now-utopian reforms that aren't remotely passable?

        Not that I don't like the list...it's a good one.  It just ain't gonna happen for a while, no matter which savior-leader should appear.  

        Eventually physics will trump politics.  Will we be doomed by our disregard of nature by then, or will we wake up in time to limit the damage?  If betting in this case were logical I'd have to choose the former.  But it's not...if we lose this bet, we lose so big that even the winners would be losers.  

        So let's forget the odds and work for the awakening, inch by inch.  

        •  The problem with your reasoning (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo, WisePiper, Wom Bat

          is that in some, areas like climate disruption, the  consequences of inaction will become apparent 20-50 years after it is too late to do anything about them.  So unless we have real leadership that uses the bully pulpit to let people know the dire consequences of stasis, unless Obama and the Democratic party can be something other than Republican lite, unless Obama and Congress can live up to the "utopian" ideal that the people run this country not the large corporations, then we, our children and our grand children have only a deteriorating world to look forward to.

          •  Well put. Thanks. I've given up (0+ / 0-)

            replying to the more obtuse-seeming ones.

            As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

            by Wom Bat on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:19:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  not utopian at all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fhcec

          the vision is not one of a perfect world that cannot exist in the real world:  all of the elements of wombat's laundry list are realistic and they exist somewhere in the world. They are already enshrined in our legal and governing system.  All it takes is political will and integrity -- that's really not too much to ask, that men and women conduct themselves honestly.

  •  Thanks Jerome, great diary, one I understand (6+ / 0-)
  •  Coming from a banker no less....you must be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    burned....lol

  •  American corporations are sitting on $1T in cash (14+ / 0-)

    http://www.usatoday.com/...

    Non-financial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 have a record $837 billion in cash, S&P says. That's enough to pay 2.4 million people $70,000-a-year salaries for five years. For context, 2.2 million to 2.8 million jobs were saved or created by the $862 billion stimulus that President Obama signed into law in February 2009, according to a report released in April from the Council of Economic Advisers.

    What will it take for these "persons" to start investing in the new economy based on alternative and clean energy as well as new jobs?

    Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:17:17 AM PDT

  •  you had me at "optimistic" (6+ / 0-)

    in these hard days, forget the gifts and the wining and dining; just say oil at $70 a barrel and I am yours to do with as you please...

  •  An optimistic (9+ / 0-)

    Jerome diary? OMG, The End Is Near.

    Srsly, this is excellent, J. Thanks.

    I like the way you set out the three big factors--they're right there, staring us in the face, but it's easy to forget one or more in the day-to-day worrying. I take a small bit of optimism from the fact that what a couple of years ago seemed to be imminent doom has not yet doomed.

    Maybe it will get us later, maybe not. But for the moment, I'd like to think we still have a fighting chance.

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.--A Boston cabbie, to Gloria Steinem, in the 1970s

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:28:47 AM PDT

  •  More optimism please. (15+ / 0-)

    This place has been depressing!  We simply must start looking at the glass as half full going into this election.  Nothing will ever change for the better if the sociopathic tea party gets control.

    Fake News has us all confused!

    by Fury on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:29:02 AM PDT

  •  Whose survival are we talking about here? (6+ / 0-)

    And when the goal is full scale mobilisation towards survival, resources will go where they need to go, not to death-inducing capture by parasites.

    I predict this full-scale mobilization of labor and resources will have the rich as its primary beneficiaries, same as the full-scale mobilization of labor and resources that the "normal" economy pursues. The rich believe that the world and everyone in it exists for their sakes. They simply don't care what happens to the rest of us so long as they can keep their party going; if slavery and total war are the most effective means to that end, then that is the course of action they will take.

    The rich are still in total control of global capital, and governments worldwide are running scared from invisible bond vigilantes, even as their economies go into cardiac arrest from austerity. The rich own the vast majority of the world's productive capacity; your lord can always simply throw you off his land if you don't obey. The rich own the media and control what the people see, hear, and believe. The idea that government and Big Business are somehow enemies is a complete myth; the major players in government are the oligarchs' golfing buddies, who control the bulk of the world's armed forces - most especially the US military - and themselves profess a belief in the necessity of military force to secure access to resources.

    The only catastrophe in history to take anywhere close to a similar toll on the rich as on the poor was the Black Death. The rich have far more to fear from the new multiple drug-resistant bacteria than they do from us.

    Whoever screams the loudest gets to decide what color the sky is.

    by rf80412 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:30:16 AM PDT

    •  Examples, please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania

      your lord can always simply throw you off his land if you don't obey

      I like your post, but this point should be elaborated on, so people know exactly what you're talking about. Thanks in advance.

      •  asdf (8+ / 0-)

        I've been doing some historical research and it seems, from a rather quick and dirty reading of history from the middle ages forward, that the only time working classes (read the current US middle class) did particularly well was either during technological and/or expansionist bubbles, or after population crashes, when labour was at a premium.

        If nothing is very different from you, what is a little different from you is very different from you. Ursula K. Le Guin

        by northsylvania on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:03:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It comes from feudalism (6+ / 0-)

        Your right to be a tenant farmer on some aristocrat's land - and all land was owned by aristocrats for most of European history - was dependent on agreeing to turn over a portion of your crop to him, take up arms and fight when he wanted the neighboring aristocrat's land, provide labor to build anything he wanted to build, and generally obey whatever orders he gave you. If you did not live up to those expectations, the aristocrat would be within his rights to prevent you from farming on his land, leaving you and your family to find another aristocrat or starve.

        "Lord" was a generic term for whatever aristocrat(s) were above you (or any person) in the feudal chain, regardless of whatever title he actually possessed.

        I'm making an analogy between our position today, arguing that it's basically the same - give the oligarchs everything they want in exchange for a pittance and the opportunity to do it again next quarter - and in an era of large scale social breakdown, would become an even closer match to medieval conditions.

        Whoever screams the loudest gets to decide what color the sky is.

        by rf80412 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:25:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  every dollar (5+ / 0-)

    we spend as consumers,

    helps determine the markets

    that will sustain, or alternately tank

    future hope.

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:32:53 AM PDT

  •  What's wrong with agrian societies? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Blair, DrFood, Kimball Cross

    I'm just starting to wonder whether the rush to industrialized and post-industrialized societies was all that beneficial for mankind overall, at least in many countries and parts of other countries.

    "Philosophy is useless; theology is worse"--Dire Straits

    by Bush Bites on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:37:42 AM PDT

  •  Without Optimism (5+ / 0-)

    there is no hope. Without hope, the human spirit will wither and die.  All of the pessimists will drag us down into their abyss if we let them.  Incremental change only seems that way until you look backwards. I refuse to buy into their "sky is falling, we are all doomed" meme.  Yes there will be pain. Yes people will suffer.  Yes we will most likely have to drag the doubters into reality and make them change.  They will fight us tooth and nail all the way.  Throughout history it has been this way.  If we wait for everyone to recognize the problem, we have already lost.  

    There are those that will "Be the Change" and those who will sit back and tell you that it is not possible.  They will say, "If only we had a better leader", or "If only the ld happen?"  They will be the ones telling you that you can't do it because the forces arrayed against it are too great.  Will we listen to them and let them win?

    Change is happening right now.  No it is not fast enough, and yes that is just reality.  It will NEVER happen FAST enough.  There will ALWAYS be those who fight it.  But it is still change.

    Either be part of the change or STFU and get out of the way.

    Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

    by whoknu on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:40:57 AM PDT

    •  I can't tip because of your last sentence (4+ / 0-)

      "STFU" is not a constructive remark. Without that remark, I would have tipped your post. I don't think you understand that people who demand faster, deeper change are important for driving the process, and they shouldn't "STFU and get out of the way."

      •  Your choice (4+ / 0-)

        And yes that is not the most constructive way to put it. But, I am tired of the naysayers on this sight that continue to whine (I am not pointing at you personally in any way) and object that things will never change because... fill in the blank  

        There are a lot of angry people out there and I am one of them.  I am angry because so many who are supposed to be working for change really aren't.  They are not taking any responsibility for it by just pointing out what everyone else is doing that is wrong.  I try not to get sucked in because it is unproductive.  Sometimes my frustration leaks out.

        Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

        by whoknu on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:17:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As usual, Jerome ... (5+ / 0-)

    ... I agree with you 100%. The one element I think it is crucial to start thinking about, however -- and that will be forced upon us sooner rather than later, so we better start preparing ourselves now -- is what we in our local communities can do to help make a transition to a more sustainable, equitable, survivable life. What can we do together with our neighbors, friends and family to reduce consumption of resources (energy, etc.), create more robust networks of mutual support (emotional but, importantly, material, also), and perhaps even begin laying the seeds of community-based micro-economies that are less and less vulnerable to what is going on in the wider economy? In times of trouble, the best survival strategy has always been to band together and cooperate with those close at hand for the benefit of the larger group. One tangible step, for instance, that I think we will start seeing a lot more of is communal, multi-family households. The commune, in other words, is going to make a come-back, and none too soon. This time it won't be an effort to create utopia. It will simply be the smartest strategy for pulling through the crises to come. And once that starts happening, it will be a small step from there to more neighbor-to-neighbor mutual support and cooperation. Hopefully, the last 60 years of mad consumerism and individualist propaganda hasn't bred the basic survival instinct out of the human animal.

    "Favoring the use of torture is not a political position, it's a mental illness." -- Devilstower

    by scorponic on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:47:18 AM PDT

    •  > community-based micro-economies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri, kamarvt, RosyFinch

      Think global, buy local? There seems to be an emerging consensus in my (our?) corner of the blogosphere that localization has to become the new buzz word. Post industrial? But what forms could this take. Mondragons? Local agriculture?

      More salient to this site: What will it take to get the representatives of representative democracy on board with whatever concrete ideas emerge? Unfortunately the only idea I have now is continued blogging, but the idea that a kid in Mongolia or Mexico or China (with the economic resources and the ability to circumvent totalitarian firewalls) can read our musings is surely a good sign.

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:08:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Local ag, sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RosyFinch

        But, look around at America's cities and towns. There's plenty to do at home, from cleaning graffiti, to refurbishing buildings and making them energy efficient, to providing community health care and child care, to ... you name it.

        My point is this: if we're waiting around for our efforts to get the national government to commit to creating a sane, sustainable economy, we're going to suffer a lot more in the interim if we don't strengthen community bonds and economic networks. A lot less if we do.

        "Favoring the use of torture is not a political position, it's a mental illness." -- Devilstower

        by scorponic on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:27:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

          Any change will have to come from the ground up. One size does not fit all and solutions for my dense metropolis are different than solutions for the plains states. Some problems are too big for the Federal government and ecological restructuring is one of them.

          The Feds could be used to keep counter efficient organized crime big corporate interests from crushing attempts at local economic networks (what essentially happened to the local garmet artisans in NYC early 19th century). But cooperative oriented health care or child care comes up against cold hard cash reality pretty quick. We're already closer to returning to a serf based society than we think. Economic issues have to be sorted, either by more efficient networks or big business regulation - probably both - and local agra sounds like an OK place to start.

          (I actually like graffiti but I admit I'm a minority ;->)

          If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

          by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:37:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  micro-banking, too. and take another look at (0+ / 0-)
    •  I mostly agree, but (0+ / 0-)

      this has to start asap.
      Because it's not clear whether people tend to band together, even in a major emergency, if they were taught the exact opposite for all their lives.

      Republican campaigning has actually proved beyond doubt that fear-mongering is quite a powerful tool to divide people even in times of relative wealth (see past few decades). And in emergencies there is certainly no shortage of fear.

      On the other hand I think that globally people tend to feel they're on the same boat now more than ever, so maybe you can build it from there...

  •  Or (7+ / 0-)

    we stay true to Human Nature and resist all of these changes until it is too late to make the switch, choosing instead to just react...to the latest crisis...while ignoring the cause of the various interrelated crises.

    We,as we always have in the past, bow to the incrementalists who put both their emotional and physical comfort before the necessity of systematic change, resisting furiously the reality of a world that has already changed,as they pine for the fjords of past Golden Ages and continue to pretend that we can control the world.

    That it will adapt to us, instead of us necessarily adapting to it.

    You can, in a way, measure the courage and worth and viability of a person or a society by how much they can accept and adapt to chaos. And the changes we are about to see will be undoubtedly be perceived as chaos by "The Comfortable" who are used to a slower rate of change, and have the most to lose.

    It comes down to this, essentially. How much time and energy will we spend fighting the coming changes, rather than accepting and adapting to them.

    As soon as we accept the coming change, we can adapt by becoming a more cooperative and less competitive species, working together to create.....something new.

    If we fight against the coming chaos and retreat further into "I got mine ism"...well, that will determine the level of Doom and Gloom we as a species will experience

    Adapt or die is The Law on this little planet. Up til now the Changes have come so slowly that dramatic change was only necessary in segments of life and society, but now the changes are going to come very quickly, and whoever adapts quickest "wins."

    Or to put it bluntly....survives.

    •  as usual, (0+ / 0-)

      i have no idea who constitutes the "we" in your mind, buhdydharma, but i wasn't surprised to see your name at the end of this post.

      acceptance?  my life is both based and built on that word.  i learned it by increments.  enlightenment by lightening has not come to anyone i know... it has come via increment, a slow dawn, either via chaos or chance.

      it won't be whoever adapts quickest that will 'win,' life isn't that simple.  people 'win' in the workplace not because they can adapt, but because they can cling and clinging, especially to the status quo, is rewarded in the workplace, in my experience.  

      very few workplaces are progressive enough to embrace new ideas and methods.

      so again, we meet, and fundamentally disagree.

      "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

      by kj in missouri on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:01:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  nevermind.... ;-) (0+ / 0-)

      duh.  it just became clear.  the fundamental difference is the same as before... i don't agree with any frame that employs "us" and/v/or "them as its core.

      that explains my unease with your comment.

      "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

      by kj in missouri on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:25:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "the largely parasitic oligarchic class.." (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, mftalbot, Eric Blair, drewfromct

    will still own all the catfood factories. They will be parasites to the end, and because they have the greatest wealth, they will be the last to go.

    "...with the exceptions of Brick Oven Bill and Makewi, who are just simply useless oxygen thieves,.." Soonergrunt

    by steelman on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:50:20 AM PDT

  •  Naysayers are gonna love this . nt (0+ / 0-)

    I love me peektures and that is that! Cheerleaders till 2016

    by matrix on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:51:36 AM PDT

    •  Pie war comment, uselessly divisive. nt (4+ / 0-)

      Note to self: Quit insulting people. Note to others: If I insult you, please remind me that I'm trying to stop doing that.

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:20:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How does this differ from what the "naysayers" (5+ / 0-)

      have been saying?  It takes a Jerôme to present with a cheery face the mounting evidence that we're gonna pay the price of our folly sooner rather than later, and still make us feel optimistic.

      Silvio Levy

      •  Me don't think that is all the naysayers have (0+ / 0-)

        been saying.
        ....I'm  just saying.....

        I love me peektures and that is that! Cheerleaders till 2016

        by matrix on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:34:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "our folly?" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RosyFinch, rainmanjr, codairem

        Are you speaking for yourself Kemo Sabe? Some of us have been fighting the job, and plant flight, the insane trade treaties and the buying of Congress and the Presidency for thirty to thirty-five years. We are now standing where I and others said we inevitably would stand. I take no solace in having been right, but at least I didn't support the "folly" that allowed the destruction of the consumer classes and a few greedy leaches to get stinking rich.

        I wish I could feel optimistic about a positive outcome without incredible suffering and retribution. The "folly" didn't belong to about ninety-five percent of the population...they just sat on their spoiled pampered hands while the sharks swept it all out from under them. To turn this colossal mess around without out of control retribution is going to require huge sacrifices of money and power by the people who caused this and I don’t think they are wise or moral enough to do that...after all they have had it all their way for years why should they believe they are going to called to account or not be able to stay in control of the pee ons?

        The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool. George Santayana

        by Bobjack23 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:02:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bonsoir Jérôme (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, RosyFinch

    J'espère que tout va bien et merci de nous offrir ce cadeau d' optimisme.

    ;-)

    Just stay away from my body and my rights, and everything will be just fine. ~LaFeminista Mon May 17, 2010

    by LaFeminista on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:52:41 AM PDT

  •  The biggest environmental (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct

    advancement in the past decade has got to be the hybrid car.  Yes, it's still a car but a future of carbon sipping sounds good, especially if carbon is going to be around, which it is.

    From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

    by satrap on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:54:21 AM PDT

  •  Wish I could be as optimistic (10+ / 0-)

    But.......

    China is already years ahead of us in green energy.

    Obama gets it, but it is a hard sell to the voters because

    And here is where my glass half empty hits my brain:

    Americans are basically uninformed, easily led by the stupid, therefore making Americans stupid.

    I have no faith that Americans actually "get" that we are at a turning point in this country.

  •  Building a new energy economy (5+ / 0-)

    will employ millions and give us hope in a future we can believe in.  Imagine a future without coal, oil and gas choking the skies of the world, without the world economy suspended by the thread of a depleting and  unsustainable resource. Changing directions in terms of our global energy supply will be the mobilization we need and what will likely become the challenge our era.  Building a cheap, abundant energy alternative to polluting carbon-based fossil fuels will be the ticket to a prosperous and sustainable future.  As this will also put us on the path of saving the planet via greenhouse gas emission cuts, we can know that such coordinated action will have deep meaning beyond mere jobs: our work will have profound consequences of millennial significance.  

    Building an entirely new energy infrastructure should be at the core of our economic and political restructuring efforts.

    The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

    by mojo workin on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:54:40 AM PDT

    •  this would entail rebuilding much of the country (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kj in missouri, drewfromct

      Most of America, as gets pointed out often, doesn't function without personal transportation and the distances are much too great for a purely bicycle solution. So do we (and/or our elected policy makers) push for electric cars and make the devils deal with nuclear, or do we as a society start to migrate away from sprawl?

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:11:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  push for electric (solar) cars and no deal (6+ / 0-)

        with nuclear, but deal with wind and solar and deal with micro- and urban farming based on wind and solar, migrate away from corporation that develop and build housing complexes for you on the basis of making profit and make deal with independent, individual builders etc. etc., construct dense urban areas instead of spread-out sub-urban developments.

        Change the laws that distinguish between commercial, agricultural and residential areas. These areas have intelligently mingled together and be regulated by common-sense tough regulations concerning environmental pollution without being physically separated from each other.

        You can have factories in your neighborhood, if they would be build on the basis of production cycles which would give everything they took from nature to make a product, back in its original form. Think of it as all industries need to be "compostable-based" and no chemicals could be released back into nature and waterways in any form or shape, if they couldn't be found naturally in the same composition and concentration.

        Yes, it would entail rebuilding the country, but you would have to do this on the long run anyhow, because as things are going, the poverty of the middle class will create vast decaying urban and commercial landscapes and dysfunctional infrastructures. All of which have to be rebuilt. The question is not if you have to rebuild but how you do it.

        •  OK. Not short term ... (4+ / 0-)

          realistic but I agree with your basic points. I'm not entirely anti nuclear but I am against seeing it as a big industrial quick fix. I'm more interested in the short term beginnings of decentralization, for instance in Pittsburgh - IIRC - they are returning some unused urban land to agriculture. It's unclear at least to me if wind and solar could take up the slack short term if moving to electric vehicles given the current long distances involved.

          There is a long tradition out on the hippie fringe of expecting green cities at some point. I just worry about the overall pain level necessary to get this started (as I have young kids).

          My only slight disagreement is with
          >the poverty of the middle class will create vast decaying urban and commercial landscapes and dysfunctional infrastructures

          which I would change to has created but, I believe, your point is it's going to get much worse.

          If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

          by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:03:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  worrying about pain levels (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kj in missouri, drewfromct

            If the pain level to deal with the defunct status quo is higher than the pain level to rebuild from scrach but having hope to make it better, then it will start.

            It's natural to resist pain. But we often choose which pain is easier to deal with compared to another pain, which is also an individual perspective and dependent on the conditions you live in. I wouldn't worry about that. It will happen.

            •  too abstract for me (3+ / 0-)

              I've lived in poverty. I've lived out of poverty. Out of poverty is better. I've been hungry, I'm currently well fed. Well fed is better. I'm hoping my kids don't have to grow up fighting their way through a society in constant detox and trauma. That transcends abstract futurism to me.

              The question is can enough people be reached that these changes can begin from the ground up. One size does not fit all and solutions for my dense metropolis are going to be different than solutions for sparse planes states. Can advocating any of these directions avoid the culture war, or are bicycles going to be a UN / Muslim plot?

              This site's about electoral politics which, to me, is now all about keeping the worst as far from power as possible. But locally if electoral politics could be pointed at further than the next election cycle things might get interesting.

              If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

              by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:47:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  good discussion, thanks /nt (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jgnyc

                "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

                by kj in missouri on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:14:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Didn't some Republican in Colorado (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JeffW

                ...are bicycles going to be a UN / Muslim plot?

                recently say that a bycycle-sharing program was an international plot?

                Renewable energy brings national security.

                by Calamity Jean on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:18:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  may be I am too general and express myself (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kj in missouri

                badly. I am also not sure that I understand you properly.

                Let me make an example. You are well fed and don't live in poverty, which I interpret as you being able to pay the bills to feed and shelter and raise your kids and yourself.

                If the conditions change,  let's say electricity and gasoline cost 10 times the amount you pay now, food prices skyrocket or food become scarce, wouldn't you try to invest and engage in solutions, which would enable you to generate your own electricity, try to build and buy a car that doesn't need gasoline, and start urban farming in your backyard or organize community farming close to your home? I believe you would start doing that if the pain of being unable to pay your bills for survival is so unbearable that you start searching and working for solutions that avoid those sufferings and dependencies. That's not abstract in my mind, but pretty much common sense and reality-based.

                And if this site is supposedly just about electoral politics (which I don't believe it is and hope it will never be just that), then definitely I would work for political solutions that entail supporting the poor to become energy- , housing- and food sustainably independent.

                Necessity is the mother of invention, and therefore the mother of change.

                •  rather do it before disaster hits (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kj in missouri

                  We can hope society has the collective will after disaster / collapsing standard of living levels are reached. What's interesting is what is to be done now, before standard peak energy problems push us towards Road Warrior.

                  > I would work for political solutions that entail supporting the poor to become energy- , housing- and food sustainably independent.

                  Politics being the art of the possible what are those solutions near term? Specifics are what's interesting in these cases. I don't have any, but the general idea of what needs to happen has been floating around for a long time. It's political will pre-disaster that has to be matched with road maps.

                  If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

                  by jgnyc on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 11:30:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Nuclear would clearly help electricification (0+ / 0-)

        and a high-technology electricity grid supporting all manner of low-carbon sources would clearly benefit too. So I don't think it's a matter of either-or, or of a "devils deal", but of putting our resources and our incentives to where they'll do some good, and setting clear carbon-fee structures to phase out the use of hydrocarbon combustion. As well as rebuilding to reduce our energy needs - which may mean more densely-urbanized living in many cases, since this tends to be an efficient way for a lot of people to live and contribute.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Sat Aug 28, 2010 at 03:01:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yesterday I asked what the super wealthy would do (11+ / 0-)

    with all of the money that they have stolen from the middle class when they realize that there is no middle class to build the goods they want to buy?

    I love this sentence.  

    The extremist push by the largely parasitic oligarchic class to capture an ever increasing chunk of wealth is being stopped by the fact that parasites are only successful when they don't kill their host, and right now the middle classes whose productivity they have successfully harnessed for their sole benefit are barren.

    And I am going to take hope from your expression of optimism.  Because the alternative is simply unthinkable.

    •  My question too. (5+ / 0-)

      Even Henry Ford knew that in order to have buyers of his cars he had to pay a wage that allowed some discretionary spending.

      Re Jerome's analysis..... what about India?  That's a pretty big country too.  And Indonesia.  Another fast grower.

    •  One of the big shifts of the Reagan revolution (3+ / 0-)

      was from the post-great depression model of consumer capitalism with a growing middle class capable of buying goods along with enough regulation to keep corporations from really screwing things up to a pre-Ford economy where workers get screwed and corporations get to do as they please.  You are correct in that this has resulted (as was inevitably the case) in a shrinking middle class has less disposable income.  This has been compensated for with greater borrowing so the middle and lower middle classes get paid less but borrow more.  Capital has been "created" in a number of ways including artificially low interest rates and financial instruments that are essentially smoke and mirrors.  This has resulted in a giant house of cards that has collapsed partially (I think there will be more collapse to come).  You need to remember that the current corporate elite is cunning but not wise.  Perverse incentives have been in place for years that select for persons that can maximize short term profit.  The US and it's workers be damned.  They may be gambling that they can make huge amounts of money outside of the US if the US economy collapses or they may simply not be willing or able to look at the long-term consequences of the current system.  They not fare so well if the US is unable to be their great protector and facilitator.

    •  And with the self-sufficiency boom (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Susan from 29

      Coming, the rich may find themselves more and more shut out of the economy. What happens with all of those small-business factories, urban agriculture, and wind farms? Will they try to buy up every little farmlet and house garden and local factory making things out of recycled materials?

      What happens with the revival of craftmanship with people making their own stuff, recycling the rest and trading locally and internationally without much of their help?

      Howard Dean Forever and a Day

      by CarolDuhart on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:04:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the lil' bit o' optimism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, karmsy

    Hope and change that we can believe in.'

    Merci!

  •  Tips to optimism and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, karmsy

    rec'd for bringing resource scarcity to the fore.

    Thanks for the great diary Jerome. Now over to ToD for more energy related news.

    The Ongoing Drama of Palin's Place - for your latest in faux outrage and professional victomhood.

    by delmardougster on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:00:33 PM PDT

  •  Excellent analysis- this period has no comparison (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, BoxNDox

    We are really moving into a new economic/ecological age. Sustainability is not a choice, but a necessity.

  •  Great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    One of the few things I've read lately here, or anywhere for that matter, that didn't give me the impulse to reach for the scotch bottle or lament the lack of firearms in the house.

    Nonetheless, I don't quite share your level of optimism.

    The question I have is in what timeframe we're talking about with these trends.  My own guess would be 20 years or more, and by then, the US may well be too f-ed up by then to get its act together and capitalize on these trends.  And, while China is one source of cheap labor, it is still worth bearing in mind that it would take years for the US to ramp up its own manufacturing, which has largely been in decay for over 30 years.  Moreover, I do have to wonder whether these trends would directly benefit US workers, or whether they'd simply revive the plants in Mexico which also closed up shop as a result of cheap Chinese labor.  Mexican wages will still be cheaper than US wages by a substantial amount.

    Anyway, thanks for the effort to cheer us up.  It helped me a bit at least.

  •  Or maybe we don't live in a dictatorship or (6+ / 0-)

    a monarchy and we actually do have a few real leaders and they are doing the best they possibly can amid an extremely entrenched oligarchy.

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

    by lockewasright on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:08:16 PM PDT

  •  Jerome, I need a favor... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct

    I often visit Progressive Bloggers Canada where one of the bloggers is opposed to Wind Power:

    Wind Concerns Ontario

    Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines. Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of over forty groups promoting awareness of the true impacts of industrial wind power facilities.

    Wind Concerns Ontario provides a strong, unified voice of opposition to the unchecked rush of locating thousands of massive industrial wind turbines across the province which are too close to human habitation and are without the benefit of full environmental assessment.

    * emphasis added.

    Would you be so kind as to comment on their general approach? Sometimes it seems like their opposition to commercial wind development is more like that of a concern troll when it appears in the context of "Progressive Bloggers".

    Thanks.

    •  dunno (6+ / 0-)

      it's the usual list of bad faith, misleading, false or irrelevant arguments against wind. Typically it's inspired by NIMBY by well-off urbanites who don't want a wind turbine near their country home and have the money or lawyers to make a fuss - or it is coal industry/nuclear industry astroturfing.

      •  Wind Concern Ontario (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paul2port

        Interesting little blog comments, a wind farm defender exposes some misleading information.

        hysterical poster claims health effects and  increased
        CO2 emissions from wind generation!

        entertaining.

        Also shows that feed in tariffs work, and some 19,000 small power projects have been approved on Ontario for a subsidy which explains the alarm and concern with the fossil fuel industry apologists, some of whom are on this blog (WCO).

        the old" it is unreliable and isn't working out in Europe" canards to fool the gullible.

        http://windconcernsontario.wordpress...

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:35:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  here's a footnote for responding to such (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wezelboy, paul2port

      Quote from Mr Brand - not saying to quote everything he proposes

      "My favorite Green publication, High Country News, ran the following list  without comment:  "Annual bird kill in the US: wind turbines, 28,500; buildings, 550 million; power lines, 130 million; cats, 100 million; cars, 80 million; pesticides, 67 million."footnote

      "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." [Ray Bradbury]

      by RosyFinch on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:35:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped for using the word "optimistic" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, kj in missouri

    I needed that.

    Indeed, Jerome, you seem a 'glass half full'-kinda guy on the medium term challenges and our ability to catch ourselves and transition our economies.  While I fear the international tensions that will inevitably arise, and the effect of political demonization of "the other" by irresponsible leaders here in America -- be they Muslims, Chinese, or Indian -- in the course of that historic transformation, I, too, harbor hope for our species.

    I guess I just needed to see an otherwise sober analyst say it.

  •  Derrick Jensen on "hope" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, willibro

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/...

    This is at least worthy of debate.

    "Always in motion is the future" Yoda, in Episode V

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:29:25 PM PDT

  •  In our neck of the woods (8+ / 0-)

    We have the first restaurant in Arkansas that is fully solar powered. In our extremely poor, little sparsely populated county there happens to be a retired solar person from NASA and people that could get help from the stimulus package, and the will to do it.

    Not only that, but they made sure to hire local people to help with it, thereby planting seeds of how to do it into the locals. The locals have been getting by on next to nothing for a long time, I'm sure they love the idea of getting electricity for free in the long run, because of the law put in that forced the electric coop to allow people to pump electricity back into the grid, running their meters backward. Yay for the law!

    You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. - Eric Hoffer

    by splashy on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:31:19 PM PDT

  •  Another Great Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri, NearlyNormal

    Thank you once again for a very informative read.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading your work.

    And by the way, your work to help finance wind energy projects is the sweet icing on the cake!

    Thanks!

  •  You're Watching the Survival Mechanism Right Now (6+ / 0-)

    It's been in plain sight for 30 years since Thatchereagan ushered in the survivalism program of the power structure.

    It saw the bottlenecks, it saw the conflicts, it saw there couldn't be enough to go around, so it set about methodically grabbing up everything important and disabling the mechanisms of democratic economy and governance.

    I've been terming the behavior of the power structure "survivalism" for a number of years now.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:49:02 PM PDT

    •  my dad (4+ / 0-)

      talked about this in the 1960s.   he was called home from college to work on the farm during the great depression and that formed a lifelong cynical outlook.   his words were amazingly on-the-mark re: the US in Afghanistan today, what happened when the USSR collapsed, today's over-population, Reagan's deficits.

      "survivalism"  yes.

      "From single strands of light we build our webs." ~kj

      by kj in missouri on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:39:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, that trigger (6+ / 0-)

    Just how strait is the gate to any kind of future?

    Of course, this begs the question of what will trigger this survival mechanism.

    It is kind of the crux of the matter, isn't it? I'm afraid your picture looks a lot like, say, the picture in 1935. "Don't worry kids. In 10 years, after a little six-year 'readjustment' during which global population takes a dip for ...uh... various reasons, inherent structural forces will put us on the road to all the new technology and prosperity of the 1950s!"

    I mostly agree with the points you make, and thanks for an otherwise excellent diary pointing out lots of important facts. It's just that after reading it, at 60 years old and with a child just starting her adult life, optimism is not what I'm feeling.

  •  I agree with everything, but damn (4+ / 0-)

    if that's optimistic, I'm depressed.

    Cause I estimate the change you outlined as a 20 year process at the shortest.

    How are we s'posed to live in those 20 years?!

  •  I appreciate your forthright... (9+ / 0-)

    description of the uber-wealthy as parasites.

    I wish this description would become a more usual feature in our political discourse.  Particularly in the main stream liberal media (Keith, Rachel, etc.).  The distortion of legislation to accommodate the very wealthy, who get their income from owning everything, via stocks and bonds, has hobbled any attempt at real solutions to the looming issues, many of which you describe in this diary.

    If the debate included the facts regarding this socio-pathic, and ridiculously powerful, group it would help tremendously in defining the difficulty in creating functional solutions.

    It has become a cultural cliche that any solution must be approved by the super-rich, since they rule by divine right and are repositories of great wisdom (as defined by enumerable pundits).  In truth what they are filled with is not great wisdom, and their criteria for approving HCR, or a climate change bill, or financial reform, is completely selfish to the extent that their perspective could be considered a symptom of psychosis.

    The uber-rich have corrupted our democracy, from the SCOTUS to our own city halls and county boards.  Their twisted and degrading influence needs to be revealed and rejected.

    Corporate PACs, not just bribery but a lifestyle!

    by rubine on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:14:44 PM PDT

    •  The morbidly rich literally stole from (6+ / 0-)

      working classes with the bailouts. If you or I make a financial mistake, we pay for it -- dearly. The rich own the system and they decided that we should pay for their mistakes.

      When the French stormed the Bastille, baskets were filled with the heads of the oligarchs. The question is who much more abuse will the commoners take.

      Don't let the "Perfect" (i.e. Honest Government) be the Enemy of the "Good" (a.k.a. Corporate Looting of the Taxpayer).

      by CitizenOfEarth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:41:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting alternate reality, but (4+ / 0-)

    you didn't address the absolute and total corruption in US politics. If that goes on (and I see nothing hopeful to stop it), they will continue to loot the taxpayers into morbid poverty.

    Don't let the "Perfect" (i.e. Honest Government) be the Enemy of the "Good" (a.k.a. Corporate Looting of the Taxpayer).

    by CitizenOfEarth on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:25:52 PM PDT

    •  it may help us later (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CitizenOfEarth

      Centralizing exec. power will be critical to make the moves necessary for our survival; the trend is towards stronger central government and the need for international cooperation...a trend that favors taking away economic freedoms to private entities to move towards a more sustainable tomorrow.  

      Have you visited your local baker recently?

      by Must Have Been The Roses on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 05:05:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perspectives for a Tobin tax, then, Jerome? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, 4Freedom

    In that scenario, sounds like a useful general tax on financial transactions might become viable. It would affect money-movers in proportion to the speculative nature of their actions.
    Or are you supposing that the corrective mechanisms you mention would happen completely spontaneously, without any increase in the level of international cooperation?

    --Great post. Thanks Jerome.

    •  it's a good idea, still (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, 4Freedom, Calamity Jean

      not sure what will make it a reality, though

      •  There'd have to be some oligarchic loss of nerve, (0+ / 0-)

        (not inconceivable in times of deep crisis),
        opening the way for some palliative reform.
        In the past, international conflict and World War have become preferred options, but
        in the current circumstances attempts in that direction seem short-legged to me and unlikely to win out.
        Outrage against financial abuse is going to grow as the crisis persists, and with it populist calls for action against it.
        If the foreign enemy loses credibility as a cause for our troubles, and international cooperation be admitted, could speculators become an attractive target without upsetting the social balance of power? An internationally-enforced tax on financial transactions might be viewed as a genuine stabilizing influence with political benefits and only marginal cost to the oligarchy's immediate interests.
        Of course, it would mean a huge ideological conflict with the free-marketers and a major (at least temporary) split among the powers that be.  

  •  haha (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri

    Yeah.  You can't go from doom and gloom to 'oh hey there might be some uptick for the medium term'.

  •  That's good news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kj in missouri

    the Chinese themselves are going to ask for better environmental and work standards.

    but, having seen the Chinese reaction to public protest as displayed in Tianenmen Square, I think it's very fair to say that we cannot afford to wait for China to catch up to us on their own. The U.S. needs to levy progressively punitive tariffs on goods and services imported from countries which are unable or unwilling to meet American standards for the protection of labor, consumers, and the environment. I can remember how the "free" trade crowd crowed that global trade would raise international standards. That was every bit as much a sham as "Trickle Down" economics. We need to withdraw immediately from the unwinnable Race To The Bottom.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 01:58:49 PM PDT

  •  Bet On BladeRunnerMadMax VS. ... Get Smart ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct

    ha ha, what a knee slapper!

    the probability of Getting Smart is a joke, just like the show "Get Smart" was a comedy!

    I HOPE you're right ...

    My last 2 votes for HOPE ('92 AND '08) were fucking wasted, so ...

    after a shopping cart full of ammo, what are you supposed to do?

    rmm

    (p.s. - just kidding about the shopping cart of ammo -

    While I live in Seattle, I also live in the West. There are hordes of dolts with pick ups full of ammo stashed away ... and how the hell are they gonna get the gas to drive their ammo around to get more gas ...?)

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:08:50 PM PDT

  •  Parasitic hosts (7+ / 0-)

    The extremist push by the largely parasitic oligarchic class to capture an ever increasing chunk of wealth is being stopped by the fact that parasites are only successful when they don't kill their host, and right now the middle classes whose productivity they have successfully harnessed for their sole benefit are barren.

    I love this frame. They have killed the goose laying the golden eggs, slaughtered the cash cow and now there is not enough left of our middle-class carcasses to feed them.

    I hope we can slough them off before they take the last bit from us.

    Much of life is knowing what to Google
    (and blogging at BPI Campus)

    by JanF on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:10:01 PM PDT

  •  kudos, reservation and possible correction (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, kj in missouri

    Kudos for a fine analysis, and for posting it here.  It's refreshing to see a substantive diary in the rec list.

    And while leadership is going to be a key problem, your doubts--inevitably suggesting President Obama--directly follow praise for the unattributed investment in clean energy made in the Recovery Act, with what looks like political consequences.

    Possible correction: Your sentence "...States have incredible powers, do not actually need to be subversient to short term private oligarchic interests, and will start yielding that power towards strategic objectives."  I'm not sure what "yielding that power" could mean in this context.  Could you possibly have meant "wielding that power..." ?
     

    "The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

    by Captain Future on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:18:19 PM PDT

  •  We've been in a wartime economy til recently (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Einsteinia, ATinNM, kj in missouri

    An excellent diary, one of your best.  I'd like to add that part of the driving force since WWII has been the effect of a wartime mindset until recently.  I know we're are in a so called "war on terror" but that hasn't been an economic driver.  The cold war period was responsible for many of our advances in technology which contributed to the economy.  The thing about a wartime economy is that things get done regardless of cost.  The space program wasn't really about exploration, but about national security in the face of Soviet advances, just to pick out one example.

  •  What a wonderful vision but..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris

    The toxic swill of brutality, arrogance, and ignorance of the American Oligarchs simply cannot be overstated.   They already commit mass murder in the developing countries and are stepping up the killing within the USA.  I would easily believe that they have plans on the shelf to get rid of most of humanity and the technology is pretty much there to selectively (almost) do it.

    Any USA politician proposing real change and with real prospects of winning an election would surely be assassinated by the security apparatus.  And even at the emergence stage the corporate median would unite in their efforts to destroy him.  (See Howard Dean.)  

    I dearly want to be optimistic and to give my kids some reason to hope.  But it's more important for them understand the truth, however terrible, than to try and live within fairy tales.  Until the emergence of a new ethos along broad and unstoppable lines we are screwed.  That ethos must include a massive shift in taxation off of labor and onto privileges, particularly resource privileges.  Such a shift is scarcely visible anywhere in the USA.  

    Theoretically, there are solutions to our problems and that is some comfort.  But we are in such deep shit it strains the language to describe it.

    The Long War is not on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. It is on the American people.

    by Geonomist on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 02:28:37 PM PDT

  •  Well this is the most positive thing (0+ / 0-)

    I´ve read in a while:

    .....and most of us here will get to see that problem 'solve' itself.

  •  I liked the diary and see (0+ / 0-)

    the point of working toward an optimistic outlook.
    My optimism is tempered, however, with a look at the
    earth as it is right now.  Too much rain in spots,
    leading to floods and crop damage; while too little
    rain in other spots are leading to drought and lack
    of water for the populations.  Nomadic populations
    will be growing in Africa and Asia, causing a lot of
    stress on already weakened governments.  Short term
    problems may, in the longer term, force the world to
    treat AGW as an emergency situation.  That may, in
    turn, help the human race work together to make a
    sustainable human footprint.  But there is going to
    be a lot of human misery in the short term.  

  •  Something Fundamental Wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    virginislandsguy, Bob Guyer

    No, not optimism: that's good, and self-fulfilling so long as the optimists optimize in practice.

    What's wrong, and fundamental, in this diary is:

    ALL of the world GDP growth in that period [the past 10 years] can be explained by higher primary energy availability, which has come exclusively from higher Chinese coal output

    No it cannot. The last 10 years has seen the usual but still strong and accelerating growth in productivity of nearly all workers. Largely through telecommunications, which improves efficiency, and through integration (transport + telecom), which reduces waste, as well as the unification of the Eurozone into a single marketplace. And then there's the component of GDP which isn't so much to brag about as it is a distortion of the economy: the giant increase in bank profits from credit, pressurized investment through retirement funds. And of course the disastrous derivatives industry that lost 40% of its decade's value in 2008-9 (and regained about 20 of those points by now in 2010), but represented 40% of the overall US GDP growth (as elsewhere), which means it was a net increaser of GDP.

    Chinese coal energy increase loosened the bottleneck on a lot of the past decade's GDP growth, unleashing Chinese labor and leaving more global energy for the rest of us. But since there were plenty of other net additions to growth, it's not "ALL" of the explanation.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 03:42:46 PM PDT

  •  The first few pargaraphs negates the opitmism (0+ / 0-)

    the title promised. sigh, If you gonna make a optimistic diary then do so.  Why recall all your past dire meanderings.... NEXT!

    Still fired up! Gives pacifiers to the cry babies.

    by NorthCacalakaGirlForBO on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:15:06 PM PDT

  •  Will work for survival! Good news. Agreed! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ravenwind, jfromga

    I see the convergence of factors on the constraint side forcing us to our senses sooner than later. We are in overshoot, as the limits to growth folks call it, and we will respond with the vigor and craftiness of our collective abilities. The oligarchs will only be able to retard our survival response, not eliminate it and that is a lot of human energy in 99+% of the human race.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:16:06 PM PDT

  •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fhcec

    I was with breakfast this morning with friends where we talking about how the people who believe in respect for all the human beings and respect for the environment seem to be in a defensive posture everywhere. Believe it or not, I actually clicked over to DK looking specifically for a glimmer of hope. So, again...thanks!

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by respectisthehub on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:48:59 PM PDT

  •  Ophuls would approve (0+ / 0-)

    I remember 20 years ago reading William Ophuls, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity; he said the change was coming soon (in the 70s), but he didn't realize how much oil we would find.

    He advocated for an all powerful eco-authoritarian government which takes on as it's sole purpose the survival of our civilization and the human race.  That is, we give up our economic freedoms in exchange for survival.  

    I see this happening in our government now with the Executive taking more and more power.  While it seem like a move toward fascism; it's really not.  It's a move toward the Exec. taking power, centralizing it, as we move into a period where that power and central authority will be critical for survival.  China is a good example; in a fast moving world, our Exec. has to move fast to adapt and our current political process won't do for us to survive.  Even if China is not moving that quickly now; it certainly could if necessary.  

    Have you visited your local baker recently?

    by Must Have Been The Roses on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:54:10 PM PDT

  •  How's about a Wealth Tax project ??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, fhcec

    This starts with a movement to enable a constitutional amendment. XXVIII.

    Income Tax was Amendment XVI.

    -- Socialist Labor Party advocated a graduated income tax in 1887. Populist Party came on board in 1892. Democratic Party came on board in 1894.

    -- Took till 1909 to get the bill passed and 1913 to get it ratified.

    -- Overall process: more like 30 or 40 years.

    First step is getting the democratic Party to back it. Put it in the Convention Platform.

    The primary benefits run to reversing the hideous inequalities fostered by the Reagan and Bus43 tax giveaways, plus mitigating against actions such as the Greenspan Big Bubbles that also pump money to the rich.

    Florida enacted an Intangible Property statute in 1931. It withstood legal challenge and could be enacted more efficiently on a national level:

    1. Set appropriate non-punitive revenue yields with a progressive structure. Start at Net Worth $10,000,000 (1/10th of 1%) and set a maximum rate for NW over $100,000,000 (at 1% per annum.)
    1. Differentiate rates and exemption terms by asset category. E.g., primary residences left clear for municipalities (exempt to $5,000,000.)

    Language is straightforward:

    Amendment XXVIII

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on wealth, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

    Anybody think in terms of 3 or 4 decades ???

    (Gee, we're digging for the Watergate scandal, seeing who's honest in CREEP, pulling extra hours to see what's in the text systems at....... Early 70s, right on.)

    Long range progress matter, too.

    Career criminals + Angry White Males + KKK wannabes + Personality Disorder delusionals + Pro-Life Christians =EQ= The GOPer Base

    by vets74 on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 04:59:44 PM PDT

  •  We tried "real leaders" who would "steer" us.. (0+ / 0-)

    for thousands of years..then our founding fathers & mothers came up with a better plan for governance.

    Or who knows, maybe we'll get a real leader one of these days, able to steer us away from the wall before we actually hit it and get hurt. Now believing in that would be wildly optimistic!

    Now as you so clearly pointed out the ruling few have stolen the system of governance.

    With the reins of power in the hands of the largest corporations our nation is careening away from a sustainable, ecologically sound means of consumption.

    This oligarchy  now firming up it's position uplifts neither the majority of people nor protects and preservers our limited resources.

    I don't know the steps that must be taken to rid this country of the ruling parasites, but I do know that a leader alone won't make the changes happen...We will.

    We must

    Some excellent points Jerome a Paris

    I don't want your country back..I want my country forward - Bill Maher

    by Eric Nelson on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:23:48 PM PDT

  •  I have always found French optimism to be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris

    difficult to grasp.

    As Voltaire said in Candide,

    "Il est démontré, disait-il, que les choses ne peuvent être autrement; car tout étant fait pour une fin, tout est nécessairement pour la meilleure fin. Remarquez bien que les nez ont été faits pour porter des lunettes; aussi avons-nous des lunettes."

    After all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.

    by Brahman Colorado on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:29:51 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary Jerome - you need to show (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, slowbutsure

    Your optimistic side more often!   This is one of your best efforts, IMHO.

    "But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing." -Thomas Paine

    by Tommymac on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:42:15 PM PDT

  •  I figure probably 2 to 3 million Chinese are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure

    dying each year from the massive air and water pollution, poor control of food quality and dangerous working and living conditions, mostly driven by the West's insatiable desire for cheap junk.

    10 years ago, a UN study said 10% of China's arable land was so polluted, it could no longer be used to grow food.
    Today, who knows what percentage of that land it polluted.

    So yeah, the Chinese are hitting a brick wall, availability of coal or not.

    Quite a price for them to pay.

  •  Big Disagreement w/ This One (3+ / 0-)

    and the good news is that we actually have the technologies available to do the transition. We know how to do building weatherisation; we know how to scale up renewable energy; we know how to do public transport and smart grids: what's been missing is the political framework to make it happen.

    Unless by "political framework" what you really mean is financial committment, I don't agree it's a political problem.

    just as the Chinese and Indians can't consume energy and raw materials the way we have the last 100 years without "something giving", we can't allocate the amount of funds (trillions of dollars) for the new paradigm because we're wasting billions on permanent war, "intelligence" services, and corporate welfare.

    as proof see article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal regarding several states bailing on their "high speed" rail projects becuase they don't have the 20 percent matching funds required by the federal plan.

    these states are bailing before they even get started.

    "It's pretty clear human beings aren't improving". Spencer Greenberg - Rebellion Research

    by Superpole on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 06:51:56 PM PDT

    •  It's both (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder

      No, we don't have the political framework, or the political will (thinking about the Senate, it's a bit of both).  Our political will is eroded by the distortions of the MSM; we don't understand either the problem or the solutions, so our politicians have no incentive to get things right.  Our political framework requires more consensus than is manageable.  One reason we liberals had higher hopes for the POTUS is that had he been more Rooseveltian, he could have overcome some of these obstacles.

      The financial committment is obviously a crucial piece, but it's not everything.  We were willing to incur enormous debt to go to war; we're not willing to do it to win the peace, for the reasons above.

      Anyway, excellent explication, Jerome.  I'll never go wrong recc'ing a diary of yours even before I read it.

      •  I Disagree - Totally (0+ / 0-)

        we don't understand either the problem or the solutions,

        please speak for yourself on this.

        we do in fact know what the problems are and what the solutions are. basic infrastructure-wise, the American Soceity of Civil Engineers regularly analyzes and grades our infrastructure. we're now at a "D", with F being fail.

        the ASCE estimates over a trillion dollars will be required to to repair/upgrade our infrastructure.

        The financial committment is obviously a crucial piece, but it's not everything

        Yes, it is everything. we can talk and vote all we want, but unless Congress ponies up the money for both the infrastructure upgrade and incentives to alternative/green energy, and to things like high speed rail technology, we will continue to fall behind Europe and now China.

        "It's pretty clear human beings aren't improving". Spencer Greenberg - Rebellion Research

        by Superpole on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 05:09:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Almost gives me hope. Almost. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfromga

    But human shortsightedness and stupidity is boundless, even if resources are not.

    -9.00, -5.85
    If only stupidity were painful...

    by Wintermute on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 07:16:47 PM PDT

  •  Wind, Solar and all energy sources outside (0+ / 0-)

    of fossil fuels will not generate anything near the energy of fossil fuels.

    I do not share you optimism.  I don't see this earth supporting seven billion people without fossil fuels.  

    Our population is going to come down.  Hopefully it will be because people choose to quit breeding at an unsustainable rate.  And this is rate would be any rate that does not decrease our population.

    •  They won't need to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fhcec, Dauphin

      Between population decline, increased efficiency and lowered energy waste, they will eventually replace fossil fuels entirely. Trains will have to replace planes for short to mid-haul travel, gas-guzzlers will be taxed into oblivion, CFCs and LEDs will replace incandescents, PCs will be much more energy-efficient, etc.

      "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

      by kovie on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:11:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The world's demand for energy is still increasing (0+ / 0-)

        and the world's population is still increasing.

        We are increasing our renewable energy but not enough even to sustain the increase in population.  And there are some very serious theoretical limits on renewable energy that are being downplayed.  Renewable energy technology should get better but many are expecting miracles that are not in the cards.

        •  Wind power is one of 14 or so "wedges" (0+ / 0-)

          Better insulation and design for environment are others. Mass transit, reversing deforestation, family planning, etc. all play a part.

          There is no silver bullet, but there are silver BBs.

          Watch this space: subject to change.

          by sustainable on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:34:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Like I said (0+ / 0-)

          Net demand will have to come down. There's no question about that.

          "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" --Alexander Hamilton

          by kovie on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:47:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Do you really think so? (0+ / 0-)

    ...and the so-far compliant/distracted/fearmongered populace will balk at doing without electricity or blaming brownouts on brown people...

    My suspicion is that we will see standards of living gradually declining, and all the powers that be will shrug their shoulders and say that there's simply nothing we can do about it. That there just isn't enough to go around any more. That what with all these new shortages, people are just going to have to get by with less.

    One of the major reasons for the current downturn (or at least one of the things it is being used for) is to get people used to decreasing wages. They're also trying really hard to raise the retirement age again, and I think it's telling that that's how they want to cut benefits. Because if public health infrastructure seriously collapses in the US, and adequate nutrition is iffier, and work hours are longer, and so forth, then life expectancy goes down significantly. And every year of a shorter life expectancy is a huge cut in benefits.

    The oligarchs like the world much better if they are way at the top and everyone else is huddled desperately at the bottom. People in the middle are threatening, and the more the 'have nots' have, the less you can force them to do whatever you want.

    -fred

    •  I don't quite agree (0+ / 0-)

      The wealthy are not doing as well as just a few years ago.  And the upper middle class seems to be taking a beating also.

      THe powers that be are screwing up big time, and also stealing with both hands.  I grant that.  But we are going to have some real shortages that nobody can really do much about.

      •  Simply not so (0+ / 0-)

        The wealthy are not doing as well as just a few years ago.

        Reexamine your assumptions. There are only two ways to measure real wealth in the world. Money is just a number, and not an especially useful one.

        The first way is, 'Can you afford to fulfill all of your personal desires involving the necessities and luxuries of life?' And clearly the wealthy can. In fact, if the top 0.1% of the country lost 9/10 of their wealth overnight, most of them would still be able to do so. Because at the point that you're in the top 0.1%, you don't use more than a tiny fraction of your wealth for actually improving your life.

        The second way is, 'How much power does your wealth give you over your fellow man?' And this is only growing, as more people are out of work, or feeling unstable in their employment, or making less money. If a rich man goes from making $1M/year to $900k/year, it has no impact on his lifestyle and gives no one any more hold on him. In fact, if he has $40M socked away, and he loses his job, it has no impact on him. In contrast, if someone making $20k a year has her hours cut by 25% and is now making $15k/year, she may well lose her house/apartment, may not be able to feed herself or her children, or whatever. Even if she can, she can BARELY. And that gives her boss a lot more power over her, especially if she thinks she can't get another job if she loses this one.

        If you took everyone's income in the country and cut it by 25%, the wealthy would be essentially unaffected personally, but would gain dramatically in power, because there would be far more people who were desperate and manipulable by them. That's essentially what we're doing.

        -fred

  •  on your last point, and this is just my opine (0+ / 0-)

    people are free to disagree, but I'd say we got one: Barack Hussein Obama. Of course he had to please the oligarchs or he would not be where he is. They still run the show. But culturally and politically, socially, anthropologically, his voice is leading the shift in a paradigm, and the change in a culture that is needed for our continued survival. Naturally it is fair to criticize him on the facts of his administration. But many people overlook how important his leadership is culturally and socially, just as many overlook the fact that the investment in alternative energy far outweighs the importance of the looting and corruption of the meltdown. It is as you say, when the crunch sets in, when reality hits, it is these early investments, and the trajectory sounded by the words of our leader that are really going to matter. All the money in the world won't count for a hill of beans, as they say.

    Without steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the global thermometer could rise by 6.0 degrees Celsius making large swathes of the planet unlivable.

    by Green Bean on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:02:08 PM PDT

  •  I am stockpiling gasoline in my basement... (0+ / 0-)

    ...in empty 2-liter Pepsi bottles. I urge you all to do the same.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 10:46:37 PM PDT

  •  And That Was Optimistic How? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris

    It's very hard to see how resource constraints will improve the future. The oligarchs are as strong as ever and seem to have a stranglehold on government.

    The only thing that makes me optimistic is the development of Internet politics, which makes it harder for The Bandits to keep government under their control. But, they are now after net neutrality, in a blunt effort to choke off that counterbalance to their power.

    As for China, their "labor shortage" is very little help to us. Only a fraction of the workers in China are employed in jobs related to the global economy (maybe half, probably a lot less). Even if China doesn't increase its work force, it's already succeeded in ruining ours. And, there are plenty of hungry people that are ready to steal jobs from the Chinese if they let them. Frankly, if the Chinese wanted to preserve their position, they'd join us in setting an international minimum wage right now before the BRIC hollows out their manufacturing advantage.

    There's nothing really about green jobs, either, that would tend to keep them in the U.S. Want to build a green house? Sure, make it out of bamboo floors and formaldehyde-free cabinets, with a steel roof (all manufactured in China). Sure, you can make your home using straw bale construction with American Clay walls, deconstructed doors, refinished cabinets, and Vetrazzo counter tops, but the vast majority of people simply take the easy route and buy the cheap stuff, usually imported. Even the factory that Obama stopped at on his campaign that made parts for "wind turbines" turned out to be making stays for towers. Most wind turbines are manufactured overseas. And any money going to buy them is therefore likely to go overseas, as well. Where are solar panels made? Let's guess. Many are manufactured by BP and Siemens. Check with your suppliers. They come from China and Germany. A few are manufactured in Oregon, but probably that will change if the subsidies run out. (They ought to be manufactured in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, right next to where the oil and gas comes out of the ground, since their manufacture is heavily energy intensive, at least for crystalline cells.)

    When people talk about how the American worker can compete in the global economy because they are more productive, they aren't really saying that the American worker is better. They are just saying that, so far, our infrastructure and capital investment (and residual educational investment) is higher than in other countries. There's nothing sustainable about that. But there are 20 times as many workers in other countries as there are American workers, and just about every last one is paid less. That means that the future consists either of the American worker earning less, in real terms, or some kind of restraint on the internationalization of labor. Where is the political will for the latter?

    In the end, I expect The Bandits to push off the hard work and sacrifice of moving to a more resource-constrained future on the masses while they preserve their privileged world separate from reality. That is, if they can keep their world separate in a fast-changing climate. It's very possible that they will sink with the rest of us.

    But, more likely, it is the rich that will buy up prime real estate in Siberia, Western Antarctica, and the Northwest Territories, while the masses will have to make do with subsistence living in the deserts of Ontario or some floating raft continent off Greenland where the staple will be compressed plankton cakes (since the food chain in the ocean will have long since collapsed).

    That's the optimistic scenario, in which the masses survive.

    Cheer me up, Jerome. I'm starting to sound like a doom sayer!

  •  No one can make any coherent... (0+ / 0-)

    ...economic predictions without taking into account the coming commercial real estate collapse and the economic ramifications of the oil disaster.

    Commercial real estate mortgages are short term. Refinancing of those that were taken out during the peak bubble of 2005-2006 will be coming due soon.  And a lot of the underlying businesses/lessors are failed and failing.

    No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, `less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

    by dov12348 on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 04:56:54 AM PDT

  •  What's the hub height of the windmill? (0+ / 0-)
  •  I totally agree wth the assessment (0+ / 0-)

    unfortunately, we have reached a point that the 'good news' is that the bad news is about to reach a peak that even propaganda can't scale, and the resulting changes forced by mother nature will make us do in the 'midterm' what we should have already done, and maybe only millions instead of billions of people will be threatened, if in fact we do it in time to avoid the full wrath of the Sixth Extinction.

  •  India can replace China... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fizziks

    ...if it gets over its revulsion to its Dalits.

    The Raptor of Spain: A Webserial
    From Muslim Prince to Christian King (Updated Nov. 24)

    by MNPundit on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 03:13:59 PM PDT

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