Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 was tumultuous. It was the year that the global debt bubble imploded, beginning with the crashing real estate market, and spreading through the massive $600 trillion derivatives market, leading to the destruction of (at least) $60 trillion in stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets. World trade tottered, then collapsed. Early on, as US financial institutions wobbled and eventually sank, those in government and the MSM assured everyone that things were contained, that the economy was sound, and other rubbish. (You may note that some of these speakers are ostensibly in charge of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve, added to that the ridiculous cheerleaders on CNBC). These are the same people who are now exclaiming that "no one could have foreseen" the looming credit crunch and real estate implosion. The US Empire and the world got a first taste of reality, but are now poised to enter a global depression, perhaps lasting for many years. Perhaps the trigger this year for the implosion was the skyrocketing price of oil, which shot up to $146.00 US per barrel, engendering the usual stupidities, the more so since a ridiculous presidential campaign was in full swing. In the end, fecklessness carried the day, as both parties pandered furiously by embracing the "drill here, drill now" mantra, never mind the pure mendacity of it all. Thirty years of energy illiteracy and ignorance were not to be shoved aside for an electorate with the maturity of six year olds. At any rate, the price of oil soon subsided, then collapsed along with all other commodities, as global demand cratered, revealing the sheer unsustainability of the endless growth and consumption of ever-scarcer resources paradigm (well, it revealed it to some discerning readers, at any rate). After the first deluge, things were looking grim. Even the savior of the US economy, the monstrous orgy of consumerism known as the holiday season, could not salvage the wreckage, leading to early bankruptcies of several major retailers. The domestic automakers, vulnerable to begin with, were perfectly ill-positioned to take a broadside of weakening demand. Already reeling from the rejection of their ridiculous monster trucks and oversized SUVs caused by the price of $4.00 gasoline, softening demand and frozen credit proved to be the last straw. All three went hat in hand, to beg for "free" federal money. At this writing, Your Federal Reserve has figured out a way to use taxpayer money to lend to people with terrible credit to purchase these vehicles, the better to juice up the economy. As a symbol of the cluelessness regarding the economy exhibited by those in power, this is beyond peer. 2008 also saw the demise of the dinosaur SUVs, which, though still produced in limited quantities, will never again roam the planet in such numbers as years past. Again, as symbols, these silly vehicles had no equal, so we here at the Edge will miss them. As actual transportation vehicles, they were completely absurd, catering to the reptilian portion of the brain, which seems to be the dominant decision-maker in the case of the US public.
Top Stories of the Year:
1. Price of oil delivers yet another wake up call to US public; no one wakes up. SUV and monster truck sales turn upwards in December. Gas tax? What?
2. Real estate bubble pops completely, taking down the markets. The use of refinancing to go shopping is gone forever.
3. Paris Hilton produces a more coherent energy policy than the two presidential candidates.
4. Corn ethanol is revealed to be the total scam and boondoggle that it is, yet somehow can't be touched. Ethanol producers line up (along with everbody else) for a government bailout.
5. Endless mindless shopping comes to an end, not because anybody became enlightened enough to voluntarily stop it, but because everyone ran out of (borrowed) money.
6. The US is revealed to be bankrupt, deeply in debt, and has no prospects for growth for a long time. Nonetheless, all those in the MSM (Hi Paul Krugman!) and government officials advocate spending vast sums of future earnings to sustain the endless spending spree.
7. Credit started to disappear. Those used to financing their lifestyles with plastic were out of luck, now and forever.
8. A person who appears to have a brain was elected leader of the US, and was handed a poisoned chalice by the incumbent.
Well, there you have it, readers. 2008 proved to be a most interesting time to be alive and paying attention; Chaos hopes you were. Predictions and prospects for 2009 will be covered in tomorrow's post.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
As for another tradition, please listen to SOMAfm's (now two) Xmas-themed stations, and consider a donation for these underpaid and wildly creative internet people.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
On the other hand, we have esteemed future forecaster Gerald Celente, of Trends Research Institute, whose track record of predictions is...impressive (google it, if you care). This gentleman, at least, predicted the current global economic meltdown. Here's what he's saying about the next couple of years:
...by 2012 America will become an undeveloped nation, that there will be a revolution marked by food riots, squatter rebellions, tax revolts and job marches, and that holidays will be more about obtaining food, not gifts.
"We're going to see the end of the retail Christmas....we're going to see a fundamental shift take place....putting food on the table is going to be more important that putting gifts under the Christmas tree," said Celente, adding that the situation would be "worse than the great depression".
Well, there you have it: buy stocks now, or get ready for food riots and tent cities (wait, we already have some of those...). Happy holidays, readers, and have fun trying to figure out who's right (longtime readers will not have any trouble divining where Chaos stands...).
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Yes yes, this is the time Chaos will launch into a rant on the materialism and commercialism of Xmas, the early start, the slavish devotion to the market's demands, and the ridiculousness of citizens putting themselves into debt. None of this seems necessary at this particular moment in time, seeing as how the economy is collapsing faster than can be recorded, jobs are being shed at a breakneck pace, and companies (particularly retail) are busily filing for bankruptcy, or at least preparing for a very chilly January. At the risk of being redundant, then, here's the latest: the world is entering a global deflationary depression. Prices for assets will drop, because people will have no money to buy. Jobs will shrink, governments will go bust, promised pension benefits will not be paid, people will starve. Those with debt will be destitute, those with cash will make out somewhat better. In light of this, the celebration of the holidays should not be marked by increased consumption of anything, except perhaps food and beverages. Take Chaos' advice, get an early start on living with less, spend nothing on cheap trinkets this year.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein
Chaos has just this to say, beyond noting the dissonance between the national backslapping at having elected a member of the Establishment who happens to have a slightly darker skin tone and the constraint upon real action now being manifested by the chatter of the cognoscenti...not only problems and thinking at the same level, but more importantly, the same people who had hands in creating this economic crisis are now being mentioned as having roles in the new administration. Chaos cannot help but note with concern that the world seems poised to enter a catastrophic global economic shutdown (google Baltic Dry Shipping index, if you doubt), and efforts made by those who created and enabled the carnage have so far proved to be wildly ineffective and (worse) expensive. If you are not reading The Automatic Earth daily, Chaos' words may strike you as unduly alarmist, but there you go.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite:
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow."
---Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 6
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
If you, like Chaos, have been viewing recent economic events with alarm, (perhaps you may have even contacted your "elected" representatives with your views) here's some alternatives to consider, simply because it's easy to engage in "either-or" thinking about this stuff, when government officials engage in the same business as usual chicanery, seeking maximum resources and unaccountable power by wielding weapons of mass panic. First, here's five not very compelling actions the US might take to stave off what looks to be a massive dose of deflation and frozen credit markets. Here's one that sounds a little better (ignore the somewhat hysterical tone). There are more out there; very thoughtful people, apparently, are not included in the political debate. What's clear is that this is an unprecedented situation, and that no one, NO ONE, really knows what will happen, and what to do about it. Indiscriminate throwing of taxpayer dollars is unlikely to make a difference. (Witness the fact that the $700 billion figure was apparently pulled out of someones butt...). One more axiom, and then Chaos will cease: the people who got the US into this mess (or stood idly by, or encouraged it) are unlikely to be the ones to get us out. Oh, and here's a nice video of at least one Congressperson who gets it...
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
"Over the last many weeks we have all been subjected to endless news stories about Senator Obama's campaign "Move to the Center". Leaving aside the political illiteracy which underlines this phrase, the use of it reveals important clues about the rhetoric of electoral campaigns, whom they target and what they are trying to communicate.
Put simply, what "Moving to the Center," means is: moving towards power and money.
"Moving to the Center" is not a move to where the center of public opinion is, but it is a move to the center of where elite consensus is. Once the boundaries of that elite consensus are understood, then we can comprehend the limits of our public choices and more importantly what will be allowed within the confines of our electoral system.
It is important to understand that elite consensus itself is not static and can shift in moderate degrees, but it has definitive boundaries of which you can not cross and still be a viable player within the electoral system. These boundaries exist to the left and right within that consensus, but the institutional bias of the system is much harsher towards any moves to the left. This is because in its essence elite opinion is anti-populist and primarily concerned with protecting the fundamentals of the established economic order.
Every national campaign is in fact a dual conversation, one targeting voters while the other is directed towards the political, media, and economic elites. The purpose of the message targeting the first group is to win votes. The messages to the latter group is designed to form elite consensus, first for it not to correlate against you and secondly to have it help you win and eventually govern.
Surviving the contradictions of these dual dialogues is the primary element that makes a successful national campaign.
Let's examine the primary public policy issues and areas of discussion, and examine what the boundaries of elite opinion are on how they contradict or mirror public opinion.
Economics Trade and Globalization
The elite consensus on these issues is solidly to the right of public opinion. This is especially the case on the issues of trade and globalization. Support for supposed free markets, free trade and globalization are almost universal and unquestioned within elite circles.
This is the establishment issue, all else can be argued and debated but to question the system of privatized profit and socialized cost is the fastest road to political oblivion for any candidate for national office.
Within the confines of elite consensus no cost is ever too exorbitant in "reassuring" Wall Street and "calming the financial markets". No better example of this than the prompt and generous response of the Federal Reserve and the Congress to the recent financial crisis in the housing markets. With hardly any opposition the United States Government nationalized the losses which resulted from the bursting of the housing bubble. There where no calls of prosecution, lectures on personal responsibility, fears of creeping socialism or demands for conditional structural adjustments from bankers and investment houses. The scandal in fact is not the crime in this case, which is to be expected, but in the silence of the public and the political class to this public thievery.
It is precisely because of the iron grip of this consensus, that even if we have a new Democratic President and an enhanced Democratic majorities in the Congress, there will be no legislation signed into law to make it easier to organize workers, provide universal health care or deal with our ever widening class and income divide in the United States.
Elite consensus on the issues of race, sex and role of faith in public life are to the left of public opinion, the only area in which this is the case. Elite opinion is overwhelmingly secular, pro-choice, supportive of gay rights and hostile to overt displays of racism.
Tolerance and liberalism on this front is a very useful tool, since it buys political space to be more conservative on the more important money issues. It also enjoys the advantage of making the right enemies, after all who wants to be on Pat Robertson's side during weekend dinner parties at the Hamptons.
When social conservative complain about the "Liberal Media" they are not wrong, but only in regard to their issues. The contempt of the American elite for the religious right is quite real. What social conservatives misunderstand is that the hostility against them is not because the threat their ideas represent but only a display of the traditional contempt that the merciless strong have for people they consider to be the feeble minded weak.
The significance of the religious right in our politics is only in the wonderful diversions their issues create. Issues that feed a war between urban educated middle classes against the more numerous, the ever more frustrated lower income fundamentalists on issues that are unsolvable in nature.
Elite consensus on this issue is center to right, discussion are allowed on the mechanics of running the empire and the management of the military industrial complex, but never regarding the reality of its existence, its necessity or usefulness to most Americans.
Within this narrow context there are always code words and phrases used to differentiate one candidate from another. Words and phrases like "all options are on the table", "realism", "toughness" and "experience" are simply a sliding scale on the willingness to kill in order to defend the interests of our ownership and governing class. This is an especially critical issue for Senator Obama, considering that most victims of our killing are non-whites. His vulnerability to the charges of dual loyalty on this issue, almost certainly means no end to wars, expansions of foreign military bases and occupations of third world countries under his watch.
The made up charges of having a radical minister, or being a Muslim, a Palestinian sympathizer or being married to a black nationalist was meant to limit his room to maneuver on these issues even if there was never any indication he was ever serious about moving in a bold progressive direction.
With his "weakness" defined as his associations with progressive movements, ideas or individuals, he can do nothing but run to the other direction for the next four years if he ascends to the office of President. This is the genius of McCarthyism at work, fifty years after its namesake split hell wide open.
The politics of Personal Responsibility
Personal responsibility is a legitimate issue when discussed in the context of family and personal lives. When dragged into the political arena it is an issue that is entirely an elite construct. The actual positions of the elite are not particularly relevant. What is important is that the issues get discussed not what results from that discussion. The relevance of this issue is not in what it illuminates but in what it hides.
The recent enthusiastic embrace of Senator Obama of the call for "responsibility" from inner city black fathers is a prime example of this issue. What he is really saying is, "I will never blame the owners of the country for the social problems caused by their economic policies." Senator Obama knows better than anyone that you can eliminate most of the problems of inner city fathers in a generation with a decent educational system and living wage jobs.
But all systems of power need a convincing and unlikable enemy, which can bury the contradictions of the system. In our case incoherent, undereducated black urban males fit the bill perfectly. They are being attacked not because they are a threat to the power structure, but precisely because they are not.
What voters are expected to believe is that after a 30-year class war against the bottom 90% of income earners, the source of their troubles are black rappers and inner city fathers and not criminality on Wall Street or a corrupt political system. The road to the White House over the past 30 years has been paved by pretending to believe the absurdity that the individuals who pull the levers of power over people's lives are named Willie Horton, Sister Souljah and Ludicrous, and not Robert Rubin, Phil Gramm and Hank Paulson.
If as a society we are prepared to believe this, then we have lost the stuff that makes free men."
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
"Americans would be using far less gas — and consumers and the automobile industry would be much better off — if Congress had summoned the wisdom and political courage 20, 10, even five years ago to impose tough fuel economy standards on the nation’s transportation fleet." (emphasis Chaos')
Let's think for a moment as to why "wisdom and...courage" would be required of our elected officials. Could it be, perhaps, that taking these actions would result in said officials being turned out of office? (Chaos hopes you know the answer to this question...) Is it possible, do you think, that these same leaders are well aware of this particular dynamic? In light of the extreme differences in fuel economy seen between the US and the rest of the Western nations, Chaos would suggest the following framework for analysis whenever you hear some version of this silly editorial:
1. Elected officials are still elected in the Empire, election manipulation and fraud notwithstanding. An elected officials' first priority is retaining the position; all else is secondary, and the "public interest" likely comes last, or not at all.
2. No leader will remain in the post for very long if viewpoints taken (regarding energy) are at odds with that of the character of the electing public. (Chaos is well aware of such anomalies as Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, but such is the exception which proves the rule)
3. If the character of the public is insane, stupid, delusional, greedy, short-sighted, etc., the elected leaders will reflect this, just as surely as if it were sane, intelligent, clear-thinking, prudent, etc. Such populations exist in the world; just look around (hint: Norway). One potent symbol of this principle is the nature of the political "conversation," i.e., is it intelligent, relevant, sober, or is it silly, lacking in substance, verging on ridiculous, and panders to voters' most base instincts? (Again, Chaos hopes you've been paying attention...)
In light of the above, it is simply unrealistic to excoriate so-called "leaders" for failing to do what the public clearly does not believe in. For the same reasons, changing the current crop of officials will not produce any better results. This also explains the incoherence of the political discussion, whereby gas prices must be reduced, and at the same time, the nation's thirst for energy needs to be curbed (if you think these two propositions aren't inconsistent, please read some more....). Best hopes for less delusional thinking...
Friday, August 01, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
"First, is sheer ignorance: Ignorance of critical facts about important events in the news, and ignorance of how our government functions and who's in charge. Second, is negligence: The disinclination to seek reliable sources of information about important news events. Third, is wooden-headedness, as the historian Barbara Tuchman defined it: The inclination to believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts. Fourth, is shortsightedness: The support of public policies that are mutually contradictory, or contrary to the country's long-term interests. Fifth, and finally, is a broad category I call bone-headedness, for want of a better name: The susceptibility to meaningless phrases, stereotypes, irrational biases, and simplistic diagnoses and solutions that play on our hopes and fears."
Highly interesting, in Chaos' view. Also, kindly note that this author has written a book on the same subject, which of course Chaos intends to peruse at the earliest opportunity. Interested readers can find more at the author's blog here.
For further viewing: Idiocracy
Thursday, July 03, 2008
"Some people are giving a lot of thought to how to build a movement around global warming. This is a tough challenge but given American know-how, can-do, ingenuity, cojones, knee-jerk patriotic hubris, suspicion of foreigners, a staggeringly high 50% literacy rate, reliance on conspiracy theories, faith in one god or another, and unflagging belief in progress in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I am sure it can be done. This is a helluva country. Here's why.
1. A commitment to representative democracy conditioned only on the necessity of belonging to one of two parties, Republican or Democrat. Republicans have the upper hand given that their 24th pair of chromosomes codes for Greed. Democrats' 24th chromosome codes for Deceit. It's Win-Win for either of them.
2. An abiding love for gambling, monster theme parks, shopping in giant malls, riding in huge vans, and family values that use churches and TV sets to bring everyone together. These shared values give a remarkable cohesion to American society even in the face of ecological collapse. No one wants to be a nattering nabob of negativity as the world crumbles around us. Stiff upper lips are enough for the British but not for Americans, who need overstuffed credit cards to reassure themselves that they are the salvation of the world and if you don't like it you can go back where you came from.
3. A fervent belief in the right to cheap gas. After decades of paying under a dollar per gallon for gasoline -- 35 cents in the 1960s -- Americans are now getting really pissed off at the chutzpah of royal monarchs, royal leftist pains-in-the-ass and Royal Dutch Shell executives who think they have as much a right to make money as Americans do. What gives foreigners these privileges? Don't they know we can send in the troops anytime we want for any reason?
4. An indissoluble adhesion to religion in one form or another. It is undeniable that the existence of dissent, protest and freedom of expression causes discomfort to many Americans, sending them into the arms and shelter of various religious cults and institutions, who will, on their behalf, fight against these basic freedoms and rights so as to make them feel better. Generally speaking, they are cheaper than psychoanalysts depending on how much of your meagre salary you turn over to these delightful snake oil salesmen. (Nothing wrong with snake oil; lots of it, under different names, is sold in "Health food" stores to the conspiracy theorists on the left and right who think all doctors and medicine are poisoning them).
5. There is nothing like conspiracy theories, except maybe some stand-up comedians, to keep people amused and connected. We can thank the internet for making this political networking possible, since it ties up people who might be making serious mischief elsewhere.
6. An unprecedented web of multiculturalism, ranging from extreme Political Correctness which bans words like "beggars" and "midget," to Rambo Limbaughs, to posturing paleoliberals like Eric Alterman and The Nation, to New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra, to street-theater rabblerousers like Al Sharpton, not to mention the mammalian diversity in the halls of Congress, where the promise of equal opportunity is fulfilled in the election of liars, louts and lechers every two years. This country can be rightly proud of its tolerance for dissent, where blacks think all whites are racists and whites think all blacks are Arabs.
7. Only in America could the conundrum of disdain for government and politicians be so perfectly illustrated by the election-year digestion of the whole cloth of candidates' promises.
8. An adherence to the time-tested practice of misogyny, whether in the corporate glass ceiling, skewed pay scales, domestic violence, or the female slavery in Mormon religious brothels that condemns generations of girls and women to illiteracy, inequality and isolation. Let no one accuse Americans of forsaking the prejudices and practices of their pioneer ancestors.
9. A obeisant compliant media industry that, unlike its brethren in congress, is willing and eager to feed the demands, biases and fears of its readers and listeners. It cannot be accused of elitism or pandering to the select few; on the contrary, it faithfully brings, every hour of the day and night, the promise of prosperity and material success to tens of millions of people even as the country's political and economic leaders strive to deprive them of these things. Truly, it is a balm for troubled Americans who are tired of being bombarded with the bad news about global warming, epidemics, food shortages and the prospect of parking their RV in their backyard indefinitely.
Given these conditions, who should be leading our country? The only people qualified to lead our country fall into at least one of these categories: atheists/secularists; women; libertarians; homeless. Atheists and secularists are independent rational thinkers and resistant to cult thinking and behavior. Women are obviously the more compassionate, stable and social justice-oriented gender. Libertarians, though they have some peculiar ideas about guns, taxes and the environment, are highly tolerant of dissent and defenders of civil liberties. And the homeless need to replace the corporate lobbyists and executives and be allowed to pursue their own self interest: getting a roof over their heads and a hot meal. (Note: I have left out gays and lesbians because basically they are really no different from the rest of society).
Here is my proposed list for the top positions in Washington:
President: Dennis Kucinich. A little guy with a big brain and heart.
Vice president: Weird Al Yankovich. Because we need another VP named Al.
Secretary of State: Christopher Hitchens. A gutsy smartass atheist with no ax to grind, who is hated by the left and the religious community...testimony to his value.
Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A reward for her moral witness and courage in facing down islamist extremism and PC.
Secretary of Commerce: Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping.
Secretary for the Environment: James Gustave Speth. For being a non-leftist fingering capitalism as the root of the world's problems. (If he declines, I nominate Dave Foreman).
Secretary of Labor: Ralph Nader."
* * * * *
Lorna Salzman started her forty-year career as environmental activist saving wetlands on eastern Long Island and got her big boost and inspiration when Dave Brower hired her as regional representative of Friends of the Earth in New York. After serving over ten years with FOE, mostly fighting nuclear power and fending off the Army Corps of Engineers, she had brief stints at National Audubon Society's American Birds magazine, at Food & Water fighting food irradiation, and in the 1990s served three years as natural resource specialist at the NY City Dept.of Environmental Protection. In between she founded the NY Green Party, ran as a green for congress in 2002, and sought the party's presidential nomination in 2004.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
"But [Mexico's] proven oil reserves are shrinking, and it lacks refining capacity, particularly for low-sulfur diesel being phased in under the North American Free Trade Agreement. (This mysterious phrase enables the author to dance around the fact that Mexico oil production has peaked and is in rapid, irreversible decline.)
"So even while the nation still exports crude oil, it imports about 40 percent of its fuel"
"Pemex has been having difficulties. According to the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration, Mexico's net oil exports dropped from 1.7 million barrels a day in 2006 to 1.46 million per day in 2007. A 28-year graph of proven reserves shows a sharp downslide." (Yeah, a 13% yearly decline in productions of one's largest oil field tends to produce a few "difficulties." And again with the proven reserves language. Did the author pick that up from some expert or what? Keep tapdancing...)
Concluding with some nods to the impact of higher oil prices on the poorer citizens of Mexico, the article ends on a slightly confused note, i.e., was the point the cheap Mexican gas, so attractive to American motorists close to the border, the declining production (although this word appears nowhere in the piece), the impact (and potential riots) on the poor, or something else?
Well. Chaos has many thoughts for such an article, most strikingly that it somehow left out some rather important facts about Mexico, one of the top 5 sources of oil for the US. How an article concerning itself with this subject could somehow fail to mention Cantarell, one of the largest oil fields in the world and source of a majority of Mexico's oil production. The field has peaked and entered a rapid decline such that Mexico is on track to move from an oil exporter to an oil importer in the next five years. New discoveries may slow the decline but will not affect the end result. Be assured, readers, that these facts are not unknown, or obscure in any way; a few seconds of "googling" will call them up. In Chaos' humble opinion, when the one of the top ten oil producers peaks and begins a catastrophic decline, it should in fact be a front page headline for pretty much the entire nation. The fact that it is not, and further, that this muffling by the so-called media "watchdogs" continues, serves to reinforce Chaos' view that, for whatever reason, the facts will not be faced in the US until they are so blatantly obvious that they can no longer be ignored, even by the most somnolent of the public. Want more proof? Check out this ridiculously irresponsible opinion (by a "business columnist") as to why $200 oil just won't happen. Really. It just won't. Look for the Faux News "kill the messenger" fallacies, the Las Vegas-style gambling that apparently constitutes the current corporate culture, the ad hominem attacks, and (get ready) even a reference to the viability of shale oil. Yikes! This columnist's solution for the public? "At a minimum, we'll buy a more fuel-efficient car or even go the extra step and car pool!" (Chaos cannot help but be stunned at this person's energy illiteracy, but then again, it's quite obvious that most folk in the Empire are equally delusional).
Monday, June 09, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
"The War on Drugs may be fading from memory north of the Rio Grande, but south of the river, bloody battles are threatening to overwhelm Mexico’s democratically elected government." (Seems like we've heard this story somewhere before...oh yeah, I remember now: Colombia....and I guess it's "fading from memory" because we have an actual war going on or something?)
"The timid assistance package proposed by the Bush administration and pared down by Congress suggests that Washington doesn’t grasp either the scale of the danger or its own responsibilities." (And what responsibilities would those be? Wait, it's coming...)
"The United States has a clear interest and a clear obligation to help. This country is the main market for the methamphetamine cooked in Mexican labs and the cocaine moving through Mexico from the Andes. It is also the source of the traffickers’ weapons. And no fence will stop the gun battles from moving across the border." (Hmmm...'help' with the Drug War....let's think about that one. Seems like the US has been having a 'drug war' for quite awhile, and what have we to show for it? More people imprisoned for consuming natural substances which are less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, but not much else, besides the enormous amounts of money being spent.)
"The Bush administration is right to acknowledge the shared threat and the common responsibility. But the three-year, $1.4 billion aid package it proposed doesn’t do the job. It is too small, notably so when compared with the billions the cartels earn in the United States. And far too much of the aid is military hardware when Mexico has other more urgent needs."(Well, how much would it take, you know, to actually win? Do we have a ballpark figure? No? Maybe because that would be money down a rathole, to use a colloquialism...)
"Above all, Mexico needs help rooting out corruption and creating a well-equipped, well-trained and respected civilian police force. The Mexican police need help improving their skills in forensic investigations, prison security and witness protection. And Mexico needs a transparent, fair and competent judiciary to prosecute traffickers as well as officials and members of the police who have been bought by the traffickers or are guilty of human rights abuses."(Mexico may indeed have problems with corruption, which may or may not be related to the drug trade, but offering to 'help' with those is kinda, oh, hypocritical, when you think about the corruption that seems to be endemic in the Empire these days. The monies spawned by the prohibition on drugs know no boundaries in inducing law enforcement corruption; witness the number of public officials in South Texas indicted for accepting bribes from drug traffickers. But let's let the patronizing attitude slide, and consider again what metrics this amazing editorial would like to use to consider this 'aid' a success.)"Washington’s role does not end there. Mexico has no hope of defeating the traffickers unless this country is also willing to do more to fight the drug war at home — starting with a clear commitment to stop the weapons smugglers and to do more to take on the narcotics networks on the American side of the border." (Actually, nobody should hope, after all this time, money and effort, that defeating drug traffickers has even the remotest possibility, short of legalization. The violence which so scares the Times is the direct result of the illegality, and hence the markup, of the substances. Let us say it one more time: the 'War On Drugs' is a stupid concept. It cannot be 'won'. Resistance to this concept, as they say in a memorable Star Trek film, is futile. It does, however, divert one's attention from more serious matters, which lurk on the edge of the Matrix, and for that, perhaps the piece has actually served its purpose. Sleep now, children.)
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
1. Stop building roads. Period. Existing roads will be maintained, but no new roads of any kind will ever be built again, save bicycle trails.
2. Existing roads will have at least one full lane devoted to bicycles, scooters, and small motorcycles. Said lane will be physically separated from the motor vehicle lane.
3. Any personal motor vehicle with mileage rating of less than 20 mpg highway will be taxed at a 35% rate. This tax is not deductible from federal income tax.
4. 55 mph speed limit for highways is mandatory. 35 mph speed limit for all other roadways.
5. .50/gallon gas tax imposed immediately, rises by .25/gallon every 6 months until it reaches the average of OECD nations. Proceeds of said tax will be devoted exclusively to building rail/light rail.
If the above solutions seem improbable to you, perhaps it's time to ask why that is...which, of course, leads us back to the issue of national character. What is it, in fact, of the US character which prevents even the discussion of rational response to inevitable depletion of finite resources?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Next off, in an interesting development, our friend James Howard Kunstler, fresh off completion of his newest (an entertaining work of fiction, entitled World Made By Hand), is featured in an editorial in, of all place, the Washington Post. The point here is not the content of the piece, since Kunstler repeats what most of us have read weekly on his blog, but the fact that it appears in a national newspaper in its unvarnished bluntness. Is the US public finally ready to hear some unpleasant facts? Doubtful, but interesting nonetheless to watch the tone of the discourse change so quickly.
In more doomer news, truckers are going out of business at an alarming rate, and car loans are not much available anymore, adding to the auto industry's woes (which are already considerable). This in addition to the continual downward spiral of the airline industry, which last week decided to add yet another level of annoying surcharges and inconvenience to the passenger experience, clearly aimed at driving more and more people to forsake air travel completely. Chaos should probably have listed more examples of this trend, but it seems too obvious and common to belabor.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 09, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Indeed. Chaos has not much to add, save that it is and will continue to be, quite interesting at the twilight of the Empire...
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Reject this agreement. There is no mystery as to its consequences, no matter how rosy the promises being made to you. The purpose of this agreement is to enrich the few at the expense of the many ("few" refers in this context to multinational corporations). Even better, for the price of a plane ticket or the few clicks of a mouse, you can see the future of your country under this odious treaty in the country of Mexico today. Ever wanted to be forced to leave your homeland and illegally cross the US border to find work? This agreement will ensure it. Care to give up your family farm and move to the city, there to reside in a vast shantytown, and eke out a living performing degrading labor in a sweatshop factory, or beg on the streets for subsistence? Vote yes on CAFTA. We have a saying in Estados Unidos de Tejas, where Chaos currently and temporarily resides: "you got to dance with what them that brung ya." Costa Rica, what brought you to this dance was your strong history of real democracy, your rejection of militaristic jingoism, your commitment to education, and your ecological awareness. Cede not your sovereignty in these things in exchange for false promises of economic benefit. Perhaps other parties to this agreement think they will gain economic development, but they are not you. Look around the world today and try to find examples of the shining promises of benefits to all that proponents of this scabrous document would have you swallow without question. Chaos begs you to read the scandalous history of free trade imposed on the Second and Third World, and recall the murderous behavior of the US multinationals (United Fruit, ITT, and many others) in Latin America. Proponents of this fraud are counting on you to forget the lessons of the past. Do not permit this. It is no accident that the US has made this a priority. Think well upon these things and do whatever it takes to resist.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will we realise that money cannot be eaten.
- Cree Indian saying
Next: an open letter to Costa Rica...
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Oh, and here's a nice piece by Michael Klare on why gas prices won't be coming down again. Ever. In case you didn't want to just take Chaos' word for it...