Miserable Means - Miserable Ends

SUBHEAD: Our remaining intellectual horsepower will be exhausted trying to revive the 'Kar Kulture'. By Steve Ludlum on 6 March 2011 in Economic Undertow - (http://economic-undertow.blogspot.com/2011/03/miserable-ends-justify-miserable-means.html) Image above: Before and After. Scene from movie "Cars". From (http://www.bloggerdad.com/how-cars-almost-ruined-the-super-bowl). I mean, who really cares that the US Justice Department is helping firearms dealers smuggle weapons to Mexican drug gangs? How about those 'Too Big To Fail' banks? Aren't they good for the economy? Maybe it's too many plays of World Party but the world is turning into a pretty miserable place. Where's the 'Up'? The pissed-off fruit vendor in Tunisia has unstrung modernity. Hey, Saudi Arabia! Are you ready for a revolution? What's happening around the world is part of the Great War between carz and humans. We love our carz even as they suck the capital we need out of the Earth and turn it into 'waste by-products' circling the atmosphere ... ... ready to stomp us a second time! The carz-first American 'Kulture' is in its death throes. Think I'm wrong just watch and see what $148 oil does to American 'Kredit'. There isn't enough credit to go around the the 1st casualties will be the banks then everything else. It's not that fuel won't exist, it just won't be available at a price or where its needed at the right time. After the prices spike and crash the resulting 'depression price' will be too low to bring more expensive oil to the market. This leaves a lot of fuel off the table: what remains is in deep water or in difficult to produce formations. The amount of oil that can be made available at an affordable price will shrink and probably faster than anyone expects. That marginal barrel is a real bitch! If you need it, and don't have it, you are out of business. If your business is vital or systemic, you take out a lot with you when you fall. There will be shortages and these will be permanent. Oil that cannot be afforded by economic activity will stay in the ground. The massively expanding reserves promoted by experts will prove to be a mirage. Modernity will slip out of reach. The scapegoats will be 'liberals', environmentalists, Mexicans, Negroes and Jews, as per usual. At the 'mad minute' beginning of the final crisis, the US will teeter at the edge of the existential abyss. The institutional failures and the lack of effective response will spread a sense of hopelessness and despair. Leadership will evaporate if only because the Internet and television will stop working properly. People will fill the streets in great masses demanding a response. At that point the fear will vanish replaced by determination. This will be the end of the beginning: the transformation of American politics will start from the bottom up. For better or worse we will then all be Libyans. The question to be determined is what the American versions are willing to die for? The outcome of fuel shortages will be rationing, a reflexive spasm of central authority. This will accompany the realization that there is no energy future that represents a reclaimed or fantasy past. Following this will be car death and then death of the industries that support carz. This is just about everything in America including real estate, advertising, finance, insurance, media along with government itself. American-style agriculture which is driving carz with big tires across fields snipping off the corns will collapse. Without cheap fuel or fuel at all the machines and chemistry that supports the Green Revolution will simply rot in place. Because of years of denial and the lack of contingency planning, the fuel at hand will not be allocated properly. It's the revenge of that marginal barrel: economists will be surprised to learn that economies cannot cope at all with shortages. Thousands will cry in hunger while nearby warehouses filled with food languish without fuel for trucks to ship it. The military will commandeer what fuel remains for itself while farmers hunt in vain for the fuel needed to plant or harvest their crops. This will be the start of the second recession or the 'double dip'. It will last a long time. As this passes, the country will have cop cars, fire trucks and delivery vehicles including taxis. That will be about it! Many of these will be 'beaters' cobbled together out of junk held together with duct tape and coat- hanger wire. Others will be 'inappropriate'. There will be no car factories in the US and places with factories overseas will not export to 'Broke' America. If anyone wants a new car or an electric they will have to make one for themselves. There will be US dollars but nobody will have any. Anyone with the valuable money will hoard it. The outcome will be depression: the conflict between the haves versus the have-nots. The nation's establishment will not have the tools to address the collapse of finance. One hapless Federal government will succeed another in an accelerating cycle as the diminishing circle of plutocrats and monopolists seek in vain to restore their prerogatives. Many state and local governments will simply close up shop, or print their own money. Teachers, firefighters, police and other service providers will be replaced by unpaid volunteers. Nobody in America will have this magical thing called a 'Penshun'. Whether public workers are in a union or not will be irrelevant. There won't be any street lights, snow plows, school buses, city water, working sewers or road repairs. Highways will become rutted paths impassable to heavy trucks. The massive net of Interstate highways will become a vine and weed strewn ruin mad with bandits. USA staples such as media entertainment and wealthy pre-crash organs such as cable networks, Internet media, the NFL and Major League Baseball will be bankrupts with no revenues. Their 'fan bases' will be 'distracted': too busy trying to find something affordable to eat. Schools, stadiums, office and commercial along with other public buildings will fall derelict, stripped of valuable metals, asphalt and fixtures. In the distant ex-suburbs the new farmers with their teams of horses will plow around the long-abandoned structures uncertain as to their purpose. Valuable cash will be conserved to pay for scarce and basic medical services. There will be no insurance and most medical centers will be bankrupt. An MRI or cat-scan will be a rarity found only with the most dedicated search requiring the hire of a private detective. Surgeons will be scarce. People will die of infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes that are treated easily today. The elderly will not linger; the nation will not be able to afford to care for them. They will be shut in or turned out to die. Higher education will be reserved to enclaves that can support themselves by the produce of something useful such as (paper) books. Most remaining institutions will be engaged in energy research. A lot of the country's remaining intellectual horsepower will be exhausted trying to bring back the 'Kar Kulture'. It will be a complete waste of time: the institutions that manage to survive will be those that reference history, literature, art and the natural sciences. Education will become a lament; a catalog of what has been sacrificed to 'convenience' and the auto industry. The government will have its own enclaves attempting to reanimate the waste-based economy around a militarized core. There will be pointless development of flying machines, security robots, faster computers, bio-weapons, intelligence gathering devices and mind control 'technology'. All of these will be irrelevant in the fuel constrained America. Farmers in the surrounding countryside will laugh at the efforts. Suburbanites will be engaged in a frantic and largely futile struggle to morph their car-first wastelands of lawns and parking lots into productive farmland. Starvation will stalk the country. The flow of immigrants ... will be in reverse as people flee droughts and fires of the Western states and the so- called farm belt toward Canada, South America ... anywhere. The careening government will bring one form of easy solution after another to the public. At some point the charlatans will have exhausted themselves and an accounting will begin: the persistent revolutionaries will demand it. In open chambers the long list of crimes committed by America's betters will be read. The malefactors will be convicted. There will be many executions. The government will seek relevance by becoming harsh and self-righteous. It will also be small with a short reach. Much of America will content itself with ignoring the central government while executing those minor plutocrats it can get its hands on. Burdened with its own woes and an unfolding environmental catastrophe, China will fade into well- deserved obscurity. Little more will be heard from Russia, Africa or South America. Some places will thrive with small changes, more places will face excruciating hardships that will take place behind closed borders or across wild, pirate- infested seas. As industrial agriculture fails and farmland becomes marginally unproductive due to climate change there will be a movement to reclaim land held by real estate developers. Squatters will take over and farm undeveloped land. Title will be gained by adverse possession as the mechanisms to enforce the rights of speculators and absentee landlords disappear. The finance system will be a ruin. Confidence in the central bank will have long since evaporated, it's balance sheet destroyed. Violent arguments will be made in favor of keeping the now-impossible-to-find dollar or for producing a replacement currency. Meanwhile, local communities will issue their own currencies backed either by dollars, gold or valuable and scarce production. Debt and credit will be for all practical purposes non-existent. At some point the government will take back the issue of money if only because the non-functioning central bank will be unable to issue anything. The government will offer a gold-backed currency with much fanfare. This new currency will come from Congress by way of the Treasury. Congress will immediately debauch the new currency by flooding the country with it as the demand will initially be very strong. Too strong, too much flood: inflation will top 1,000% per month and people will go back to using the old dollars. For the government, this will be the final discredit. Everyone in the capital will be booted and the Constitution amended. Corporations will be eliminated. Risk will lie with those who create it. There will be a new kind of central bank owned by the public rather than business interests. Eventually a currency backed by the total capital value of America's resources including gold and silver will be issued by this new de-centralized bank system. This will be accompanied by a non-industrial economy and a formal repudiation of modernity. The occupations in the greatest demand, outside of farmer, will be shipwright and stone mason. The giant money-center banks that blighted the finance landscape prior to the crash will be long gone, it's swindler-executives either exiled or imprisoned and held for ransom. As the recession grinds on, these who live long enough to become elderly and frail will be pitched into the gutter to starve. In the cities and towns, the now-vanished carz will be replaced (slowly) by streetcars, bicycles and people walking. These will be "Made in the USA" more or less by hand. With the car industries gone along with their tens of millions of jobs, finding individuals willing to work with their hands will be easy. The new laborers will build railroads and canals to replace the highways fallen into disrepair. The pay for such work will be minuscule; food coupons, farthings in local currencies or a dollar or so a day. New jobs will be slow arriving but old-school workshops and small factories will emerge to fill the vacant stores, office and condominium towers. People with the time and inclination will found new towns or reconfigure old ones in ways that do not make amends for carz. Streets will be narrow and buildings close together As suburbs finally evaporate the farm fields will creep closer to the towns' edges. The specter of famine will withdraw. The only great machines will be remaining power stations and communications exchanges. Available capacity will shrink: capital to create more power stations or rebuild the Internet will be too expensive as cost of capital will include that of natural capital rather than money-capital alone. The lordly addresses and stately homes will hold fabric wholesalers and sweatshops, junk dealers and the occasional entrepreneur. There will be no Internet and few working computers. Phones will be scarce, electricity subject to daily blackouts. Without credit, carz/trucks, good roads and 'management' the vast just-in-time infrastructure of support the services we take for granted will be a memory. Trade, the industry that made New York City and other great cities world commerce capitals, will shrink. There will be little fuel and no foreign exchange finance. Countries around the world will turn to piracy for hard currency. There will be few safe harbors or sea lanes. For this and other reasons, offshore oil drilling will become too risky to pursue. Needed military escorts will make such production unprofitable. Ships will be armed and battles fierce, the militaries of the world will turn away from dominion which has become unaffordable and toward keeping sea lanes open. This will be a chancy prospect: the oceans are big, the pirates many and the navies small. Eventually, piracy will become unprofitable as cargoes valuable enough to support piracy will become scarce while risks increase. Pirates will have a harder time competing in remaining fuel markets with legitimate shippers whose business prospects are more certain. Meanwhile, as fuel-driven sea-going commerce shrinks, the occasional sailing ship will pull into the world's harbors to unload cargoes of copper or wine or olive oil from Italy, Chile or France. There won't be any EU or euros. Trade will be in-kind or in gold or silver. Ships arrived from the 'disappeared places' will be tended to with wonder. The rumors will be of recovering civilization in far away places along with wars and unspeakable suffering. World populations shrinkage will not be pleasant. The paper newspapers hawked on street-corners by young boys will voluntarily 'edit' casualty figures for famines in places such as Pakistan and India where journalists are still able to make reports. You will be able to go to your button, zipper or pickle shops down the street like you could have done 50 years ago. There will be much hardship with thousands standing in line for relief and people sleeping in doorways and on subway trains. Whole families will be begging. Of course, there will be little in the way of effective government and the idea of 'entitlements' will be a joke that people will laugh about out loud right to your face. Now ... the first effects of rising ocean levels will manifest themselves. The topic will be whether to abandon coastal cities such as New Orleans and New York altogether for higher ground: whether to rebuild a 'new New York'. There won't be any money for sea walls, the greatly diminished Federal Government will be unable to allocate funds, there will be no funds to give. The carz have won and are cannibalizing 20th century 'Kulture'. I just want you think about what is coming. .

No comments :

Post a Comment