Posted on 12th March 2013 by Zarathustra in Politics
The View From Abroad
by Fred Reed
TSA I bet this won’t surprise you.
The United States is the most hated country in the world, followed closely by Israel and then by nobody. Why? Why not Ecuador? China? Russia? East Timor? The hostility puzzles many Americans, who genuinely believe their country to be a force for good, a pillar of democracy, a defender of human rights.
To the rest of the world, none of this is even close.The United States is the most hated country in the world, followed closely by Israel, and then by nobody. Why? Why not Ecuador? China? Russia? East Timor? The hostility puzzles many Americans, who genuinely believe their country to be a force for good, a pillar of democracy, a defender of human rights.
If you have lived abroad, as so very few Americans have, the explanation for the hatred is obvious: Meddling. Relentless, prideful, uncomprehending meddling, frequently military, often with horrendous death tolls. Americans, adroitly managed by a controlled press, historically illiterate, incurious, decreasingly educated, either have never heard of the American behavior that angers others, or believe it to have been inspired by virtuous motives. Nobody else thinks so. Add to unfamiliarity with the wider world the constantly inculcated assertion that America is the greatest, most wonderful nation ever to exist, a light to the world, a shining city on a hill, and you get a dangerously delusional state. Especially now. In the past, American economic and military supremacy were such that the US didn’t have to care what others thought. The times, they are a-changing.
It might be wise to compare briefly the view through American and foreign eyes. Consider Iraq. To most of the world, the war on Iraq was brutal, unprovoked, and murderous. More than a few, looking at the ruins of Fallujah, thought of Guernica – of which few in the States have ever heard.
Similarly, Americans tend to see the war on Afghanistan as having to do with ending Terror or sprouting democracy – not as the Great Game (“Hanh?”) redux, or the quest for the TAPI pipeline (“Say whuh?”) or Caspian hydrocarbons. (“Caspian? You mean the Friendly Ghost?”) To most of the world, Afghanistan is just another sorry spectacle of American fighter-bombers killing peasants, of gutted children and drone attacks on half-identified targets. This, the merciless use of overwhelming firepower against lightly armed campesinos, is what the world sees, over and over. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan. It isn’t pretty.Many Americans do not believe that we destroyed Iraq for oil, empire, and the Israel lobby, as was in fact the case. No. We wanted to topple an evil dictator and dispense the precious gift of democracy. It was a question of goodness. Many apparently still believe that Iraq had something to do with the attacks on New York. Again, controlled press, poor schooling, little curiosity.
I live in Mexico. In countless towns, probably in every city of any size, you see streets named Niños Heroes, Heroic Children. In Guadalajara there is a traffic circle with an imposing monument to them. These things commemorate the children who tried to fight the American soldiers invading Mexico City. In that (purely acquisitive) war Mexico lost half its territory. Yet how many gringos know that it ever happened, or when, or for that matter have ever heard of the bombardment of Veracruz or Pershing’s incursion?
Americans who have some grasp of history sometimes say of the Mexican-American War that Mexicans should “get over it.” Some might tell the Jews to get over the Holocaust, or Americans to get over 9/11. It is much easier to tell people to get over what you have done to them than to get over things they have done to you.
Then there is the War on Drugs. Americans believe this to be a campaign against Evil – best conducted, of course, in other people’s countries.
Truculent patriots at Billy Bob’s Rib Pit know none of this. The combination of clueless ignorance and a sort of Walmart-parking-lot arrogance make mysterious to them much behavior of other countries. Consider their view of Iran, an evil Arab country, somewhere, that wants the Bomb so it can blow up Israel and New York. No other explanation occurs to them for Iran’s hostility to the US, which wants regime change so Iranians can be democratic and have freedoms. Ask Billy Bobbers whether they have even heard of, much less been in, major Iranian cities like Tehran, Sulawesi, Sidon, or Tbilisi. No. Yet they are sure the inhabitants are dangerous and un-American.There are other views. Thoughtful Mexicans (all I know, but I haven’t taken a poll) do not see why drugs are Mexico’s problem. If gringos don’t want drugs, why do they buy them? Why don’t they solve their own problems? It is no secret internationally that American students in high school and universities use drugs. Why don’t the Americans put their college kids in jail? And, they say, probably correctly, that Washington, by sponsoring the elimination of big drug lords, caused the current fighting among littler lords to control the trade, thus creating carnage. Predictably, the flow of drugs northward was not affected.
Iranians may perhaps see things differently. They know that in 1953 the democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadeg (“Mossy what?” they ask in the Rib Pit.) was overthrown by the CIA leaving the Shah (“Is that, like, a person?”), a routinely ghastly dictator, in control. This had much to do with the occupation of the US embassy in 1979, which was sold in the US as evidence of the badness of Iranians.
Nobody beyond the borders buys our song about spreading freedom and human rights. America has supported countless sordid dictators ruling by army and torture chamber (the Saudis being a current example). We have put many dictators on their thrones, such as Pinochet (“That little wooden guy, his nose got long when he told a lie, right?”) in Chile. (“Isn’t that Tex-Mex soup with beans in it?”) Others notice that the only country that openly and proudly tortures prisoners is…us. Later, in 1988, the US Navy, in the form of the USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian airliner and killed everyone aboard. Americans shrugged it off: Such things were doubtless necessary to stop terrorism. But imagine the outrage if the Iranian navy shot down a US airliner.
Always, the underlying problem is meddling. Bin Laden’s guys didn’t attack New York because it was a slow morning and they couldn’t think of anything else to do. They were furious at US meddling in Moslem lands. You may think, and I may think, that Islam is a primitive faith not well adapted to the modern world. Fine. I may think that hornets do not have an ideal social organization. But I know better than to poke their nest.
This is why they hate us – meddling, bombing, invading, droning, telling them how to run their countries. No, George, it is not because of our freedoms.
March 12, 2013
a few good men, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Aldous Huxley, Bangladesh, Ben Bernanke, BLS, China, CNBC, CPI, Edward Bernays, entitlements, Federal Reserve, fiscal cliff, Fox News, GDP, George Carlin, Harald Bell Wright, Inflation, Keynesianism, Krugman, Kyle Bass, Lady Gaga, Lindsey Lohan, median household income, Mein Kampf, Middle class, MSNBC, Obama, People of Wal-Mart, Propaganda, real wages, Rogoff & Reinhart, Savings rate, Tim Geithner, truth, Wall street bankers, war, war on terror
“Eyes blinded by the fog of things
cannot see truth.
Ears deafened by the din of things
cannot hear truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of things
cannot think truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of things
cannot feel truth.
Throats choked by the dust of things
cannot speak truth.”
― Harald Bell Wright – The Uncrowned King
I consider myself a seeker of truth. It isn’t easy finding it in todays’ world. In an alternate version of the famous scene from A Few Good Men, I picture myself telling Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner that I want the truth and his angry truthful response:
“Son, we live in a world that has Wall Street banks, and those banks have to be guarded by puppet politicians in Washington D.C. with lobbyist written laws and Madison Avenue PR maggots with media propaganda. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Representative Paul? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the average middle class American family, and you curse the ruling oligarchs. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the death of the American middle class, while tragic, probably saved the bonuses of thousands of Wall Street bankers. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, increases the wealth of these same bankers who destroyed the worldwide economic system in 2008. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about in the food bank line, you want me on Wall Street, you need me on Wall Street. We use words like derivative, fiscal stimulus, quantitative easing. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent syphoning off the wealth of the nation. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very debt that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up 1000 shares of Apple, and hope our high frequency trading supercomputers can ramp the market for a while longer. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”
I find myself more amazed than ever at the ability of those in power to lie, misinform and obfuscate the truth, while millions of Americans willfully choose to be ignorant of the truth and yearn to be misled. It’s a match made in heaven. Acknowledging the truth of our society’s descent from a country of hard working, self-reliant, charitable, civic minded citizens into the abyss of entitled, dependent, greedy, materialistic consumers is unacceptable to the slave owners and the slaves. We can’t handle the truth because that would require critical thought, hard choices, sacrifice, and dealing with the reality of an unsustainable economic and societal model. It’s much easier to believe the big lies that allow us to sleep at night. The concept of lying to the masses and using propaganda techniques to manipulate and form public opinion really took hold in the 1920s and have been perfected by the powerful ruling elite that control the reins of finance, government and mass media.
Peddlers of Propaganda
“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
Adolf Hitler understood the power of the big lie over the ignorant masses who want to believe:
“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” – Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf
We are all liars. We lie to friends, family and co-workers. We convince ourselves they are only small lies and just protect others from being hurt. We would rather be lied to than face the blunt truth about our deficiencies, shortcomings and failures. Willfully believing mistruths allows a person to become dependent upon those promulgating the mistruths. It relieves them of their responsibility to act upon the knowledge that something is wrong and must be fixed. It is a cowardly path to ultimate servitude and destruction. The German people chose this path in the 1930s and the American people have chosen a similar and ultimately destructive path today. The United States Office of Strategic Services prepared a psychological profile report during the war describing Adolf Hitler’s method for controlling the minds of the German masses:
“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
America’s corruptible politicians, greedy corporate chieftains, criminal banking overlords, and despicable media manipulators all learned the sordid lessons of mass propaganda from the masters. Our willingness to lie and be lied to set us up to be manipulated by those who understood the mass psychology of a nation. Goebbels and Hitler were heavily influenced by the father of propaganda – Edward Bernays. He and his disciples are professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of public foolishness and ignorance, and never allow truth to interfere with a good story. What master manipulators realized is that it is easier to change the attitude of millions than the attitude of one man. By analyzing and understanding the process and motives of how the group mind works, the invisible government has been able to manipulate and regulate the masses according to their will without the masses knowing they are being managed. Bernays described this elitist view of the world in 1928:
“Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays – Propaganda
The super-rich elite believe they are more intelligent, more capable of managing the affairs of state, masters of the financial world, and chosen to decide what is best for the masses. In reality, they are egocentric, psychotic, power hungry, myopic, self-serving ravenous vultures, feasting upon the carcass of a once great nation. Truth is inconsequential and irritating to their plans for world domination and control. Therefore, no truth will be forthcoming from any organization or person that is associated with the existing political, economic, financial or social order. Every bit of information that is permitted into the public realm has been vetted, manipulated and spun for public consumption. The public does not like bad news. They do not like hard facts. They do not like to think or do math. They want to be spoon fed mindless sound bites and happy talk. The oligarchs need to keep the masses sedated and subservient while they continue to plunder and pillage, so all data is massaged to provide a happy ending.
This is where I deviate from the ideologue one-trick ponies that refuse to see both sides of the issue. The ruling oligarchs are wealthy, influential, psychotic, amoral, and few. The masses are relatively poor, easily influenced, willfully ignorant, and many. The ruling oligarchs are most certainly evil, but the masses are not the hard working, stoic, downtrodden portrayed by liberal ideologues. One just needs to walk down the street in one of our urban enclaves, saunter through a suburban mall, or click on People of Wal-Mart to witness the tattooed, pierced, butt crack showing, slovenly, obese, and ignorant, attached to their electronic iGadgets, to understand how far our society has deteriorated. Every individual born into this world has the capability to become educated, think critically, not follow the herd, live beneath their means, and not be influenced by propaganda. Aldous Huxley understood in 1931 that those in power could use material goods to invoke passivity and egotism among the populace. He feared that truth would be obscured by an avalanche of irrelevance (500 Reality TV shows), cultural trivialities (Lady Gaga, Lindsey Lohan), distractions (Professional sports), and pharmaceutical enhanced escape (Prozac). He saw the possibility that we would grow to love our servitude as the pleasures of life provided by our controllers overwhelmed any desire to think or question authority.
“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.” ― Aldous Huxley
By 1962 when Huxley wrote his last book, he was certain that his worst dystopian nightmares had been unleashed. His description of Western society fifty years ago could have been written today and accurately reflected our current economic paradigm. War, debt and consumption still make our world go round, but the end is nigh.
“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are over-consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.” – Aldous Huxley – Island
The pillars are crumbling. The $1.4 trillion wasted on two worthless wars of choice in the Middle East, the trillions wasted and liberties sacrificed for the never ending unwinnable War on Terror, the Keynesian spending frenzy that has driven the National Debt from $9 trillion to $16.3 trillion in the last five years, the looting of the American taxpayer by Wall Street and their co-conspirators at the Federal Reserve and in Congress, and the belief that ramping up the debt driven consumption that drives 71% of our GDP is our path to prosperity is absolutely freaking nuts. The pillars will not be abolished willingly. The ruling class depends upon their continued existence and expansion. There is the rub. The math doesn’t work. We’ve reached the point where continued expansion of debt and money printing no longer works. With a national debt to GDP ratio of 102% and a total credit market debt to GDP ratio of 350%, we have passed the Rogoff & Reinhart point of no return. This time is not different. A country cannot run trillion dollar deficits indefinitely and expect to not suffer the consequences. This is why those in power are increasingly resorting to propaganda, data manipulation, and outright lies to convince the masses of their omnipotence and brilliance in managing the fiscal affairs of the state.
“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
Through decades of mass media messaging the masses have been conditioned to believe whatever those in power want them to believe. To our invisible government rulers we are nothing but rats to be manipulated through food pellets and shock therapy. Pleasure and fear of pain are the drivers of our warped society. The ruling oligarchs truly think they know what is best for the masses and believe any means is worthwhile as long as the ends support their agenda. This is blatantly obvious to anyone with their eyes open and their brain functioning. Sadly, the government run educational system produces mostly drones that are barely able to tie their own shoes, spell Cat, or make change from a one dollar bill. Only 20% of all high school seniors score high enough on the SAT test to get a B minus in college and most of these kids come from private and parochial schools. This is exactly what those in power prefer. They want non-critical thinking, mindless consumers, who don’t understand the criminal nature of Federal Reserve created inflation or their enslavement in the chains of debt at the hands of their Wall Street slave owners. They certainly don’t want the masses to understand that real median household net worth is lower today than it was in 1969. Luckily for the oligarchs, 95% of the public couldn’t define the terms: real, median or net worth. Math is hard.
The average person is inundated on a 24/7 basis with pabulum from liberal network media talking heads, CNBC Wall Street shills regurgitating whatever their sponsors desire, Fox News blonde bimbos and neo-con war mongers programmed to spew Rupert Murdoch talking points, MSNBC tingling leg faux journalists, NYT intellectually corrupt Nobel prize winners, NAR nitwits repeating “best time to buy” on a daily basis for the last 12 years, and government agencies whose sole purpose is to manipulate data in a way that supports the agenda of those in power. The intellectually lazy and willfully ignorant masses are no match for those who control the message and the media. How else can you explain their ability to convince millions of drones to line up for hours in front of a store and stampede like crazed hyenas to grab a $5 crockpot, the Chinese produced gadget of the moment or a designer top made by slave labor in safety conscious Bangladesh factories? How else can you explain a population willing to be molested by government TSA dregs in the name of security from phantom terrorists, the passive acceptance of military exercises in US cities, unquestioning submissiveness as Presidential Executive Orders allow the government dictatorial powers based on their judgment, the monitoring of internet and voice correspondence of all citizens, and believing that FBI agents luring clueless teenage Muslim dupes into fake terrorist plots, providing the fake explosives, and then announcing with great fanfare how they saved us from another 9/11?
But, the prize for boldest, most outrageous, blatant use of propaganda and misinformation to cover-up their criminal looting of America goes to Ben Bernanke, his cronies at the Federal Reserve, and the Wall Street banks that own and control our Central Bank. Having the gall to portray themselves as the stabilizer of our economic system over the last 100 years is a putrid joke on the dying and broke middle class. Their mandate has been stable prices, full employment, and avoiding financial crisis. It is a tribute to Bernays and the rest of the public relations swine that the average American actually believes inflation is a good thing and it is under control despite the FACT that 96.2% of their purchasing power has disappeared since 1900, with the most rapid decline occurring since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971.
The average American actually believes Ben Bernanke saved us from a Great Depression when in actuality he saved the owners of the Federal Reserve from accepting the losses they generated through the greatest financial fraud in history. His “solutions” have zombified our economic system, just as the Japanese Central Bank did 20 years ago. He has destroyed the concept of saving, while rewarding the indebted and profligate with his QE to Infinity money printing policies. And the ignorant masses have been convinced by the corporate media and their corrupt government lackeys that Ben did this for them. Kyle Bass knows otherwise. He knows how the Fed and their backers have preyed upon the masses through their understanding of human psychology:
“Humans are optimistic by nature. People’s lives are driven by hopes and dreams which are all second derivatives of their innate optimism. Humans also suffer from optimistic biases driven by the first inalienable right of human nature which is self-preservation. It is this reflex mechanism in our cognitive pathways that makes difficult situations hard to reflect and opine on. These biases are extended to economic choices and events. The primary difficulty with this train of thought is the bias that most investors have for the baseline facts: they tend to believe that the central bankers, politicians, and other governmental agencies are omnipotent due to their success in averting a financial meltdown in 2009.
Central banks have become the great enablers of fiscal profligacy. The overarching belief is that there will always be someone or something there to act as the safety net. The safety nets worked so well recently that investors now trust they will be underneath them ad-infinitum. Markets and economists alike now believe that quantitative easing (“QE”) will always “work” by flooding the market with relatively costless capital. Unlimited QE and the zero lower bound (“ZLB”) are likely to bankrupt pension funds whose expected returns happen to be a good 600 basis points (or more) higher than the 10?year “risk-free” rate. The ZLB has many unintended consequences that are impossible to ignore.
Our belief is that markets will eventually take these matters out of the hands of the central bankers. These events will happen with such rapidity that policy makers won’t be able to react fast enough. The fallacy of the belief that countries that print their own currency are immune to sovereign crisis will be disproven in the coming months and years. Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation.” – Kyle Bass
What’s Normal in a Profoundly Abnormal Society?
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited
No sane person could honestly say that what has happened to our society over the last forty years, and particularly in the last five years, is normal. But somehow those in power have convinced the masses that $1.2 trillion deficits, 0% interest rates, declining real wages, the highest average gas prices in history, pre-emptive wars, policing the world and buying rubber dog shit produced in China with a credit card is normal and beneficial to our economy. It seems that I and a few million other people in this country are the abnormal ones. We choose not to be led to slaughter by our masters. The seekers of truth have turned to the alternative media and are able to connect with like-minded critical thinking individuals on websites like Zero Hedge, Jesse’s Americain Café, Of Two Minds, Mish, Financial Sense, among many other truth seeking blogs. This is dangerous to the powers that be and they are using their political clout and extreme wealth to try and lock down and control free speech on the internet. If this is accomplished all hope at disseminating truth will be lost.
Abraham Lincoln once said that he believed in the people and that if you told them the truth and gave them the cold hard facts they would meet any crisis. That may have been true in 1860, but not today. The cold hard facts are available for all to see:
- A $16.3 trillion National Debt
- 47 million people on food stamps
- Over $222 trillion of unfunded Federal entitlement liabilities
- Over $5 trillion of unfunded State entitlement liabilities
- True unemployment above 20%.
- True inflation above 5%.
- A stock market at the same level as 1999, with a 10 year expected annual return of less than 4% – Stocks for the really, really long run. 10 year bond returns of 0% will be a miracle.
- A savings rate of 3.7% and with Bernanke’s ZIRP, no incentive to save. Real hourly earnings continue to fall.
- Baby Boomers within 10 years of retirement have saved an average of only $78,000, and more than a third of them have less than $25,000. More than half of U.S. workers have no retirement plan at all.
- A crumbling, decaying infrastructure, with 150,000 structurally deficient bridges, bursting water mains, and an overstressed electrical grid.
- Horrific government public education producing millions of low functioning morons.
- Rotting social fabric, with 40% of children born out of wedlock (72% of black children) and a 50% divorce rate.
- An energy policy based upon unicorns farting rainbows and press releases about green energy and the miracle of shale fracking, as average gas prices in 2012 and 2011 were the highest in U.S. history.
As the pitiful excuses for statesmen in Washington D.C. pander and posture about the dreaded fiscal cliff which was purposely created by the oligarchs as a show for the masses, none of the true issues above are being addressed. The dramatic compromise that will ultimately be reached between the equally corrupt parties will be hailed by the corporate media and Wall Street shysters and an HFT supercomputer engineered stock market rally will ensue. The cowardice of these politicians is revolting. As Huxley knew in 1958, politicians and propagandists prefer nonsense and storylines to truth, knowledge and honesty.
“Human beings act in a great variety of irrational ways, but all of them seem to be capable, if given a fair chance, of making a reasonable choice in the light of available evidence. Democratic institutions can be made to work only if all concerned do their best to impart knowledge and to encourage rationality. But today, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the politicians and the propagandists prefer to make nonsense of democratic procedures by appealing almost exclusively to the ignorance and irrationality of the electors.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited
We want to be lied to because the truth is too painful. Hope and denial with a dash of delusion is the recipe the mindless masses prefer. The average person doesn’t want to understand the chart below. They want to believe the U.S. will dominate economically and lead the world for decades to come. We are still the bright shining beacon of democracy on the mountaintop. Even though the facts unequivocally reveal a declining empire, the masses desperately grasp at straws in the wind. The United States share of world GDP will be vastly lower in 2021, as the hubris of declining empires never allows them to take the necessary steps to reverse the decline (Rome, Great Britain).
It is fitting that during this magical Christmas season of fantasy, delusion, debt fueled material over-consumption and fairy tales, we look at the biggest fairy tale of all – the great jobs recovery. I know from the two thousand Obama campaign commercials I was forced to watch in the last few months and 500 robo-calls at dinner every night that we’ve added 4 million jobs due to Obama’s wise economic policies. The magical journey from a 10.3% unemployment rate to a 7.9% rate is a humdinger. I stumbled across a myriad of charts on those truth-telling websites that I had previously mentioned.
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” ― Aldous Huxley
The first chart that grabbed my attention shows the historical relationship between the U3 unemployment rate reported to the masses versus the U6 truer picture of unemployment, along with the percentage of people unemployed for longer than 15 weeks. A funny thing happened shortly after the election of Barack Obama. From 1994 through 2008 the gap between the U3 and U6 rates consistently ranged between 3% and 4%. Suddenly, the gap surged to 7% and currently sits at almost 8%. The figure reported to the masses of 7.9% is so much easier to digest than the 15% to 17% that captures the truer level of unemployment. If the gap between these two figures had remained at the levels of the previous 14 years, the unemployment that should be reported to the masses would be 11%. That is unacceptable to those in power, so the data is massaged and the propaganda machine spins the storyline necessary to confuse and mislead the masses.
The next two charts from Mike Shedlock again reveal truths the existing social order doesn’t want you to know. Even though the working age population has grown by 10 million people since 2008, the BLS expects critical thinking people to believe the labor force has only grown by 1.3 million people. You see, the unemployment rate is calculated using the labor force. If your economic policies don’t create jobs, just adjust the labor force dramatically lower based on nothing. In desperate economic times, people do not voluntarily leave the workforce. Only a non-thinking drone would believe that 8.7 million Americans voluntarily left the workforce since 2008, when only 4 million left the workforce from 2003 through 2007. It is not a coincidence that student loan debt, which was taken over by the Obama administration in 2009 rose by $300 billion. Those in power have doled out these billions with no concern for credit risk or academic credentials in order to reduce the number of people in the labor force. Unemployed union Twinkie workers seeking a new career in lesbian studies can get a $20,000 loan from the American taxpayer to sit in their basement along with the 500,000 other University of Phoenix enrollees. The future $300 billion taxpayer bailout was worth it to keep the unemployment rate low enough to insure Obama’s re-election.
The Obama PR machine never fails to expound upon the fact that the economy added 4.9 million jobs since January 2009. In the same timeframe, uncovered employment rose by 6.6 million. Inquiring minds might want to know what an “uncovered” job entails. Selling your accumulated Chinese crap on Ebay is an uncovered job. Calling yourself a consultant while sleeping until noon is an uncovered job. Day trading Facebook and Apple stock is an uncovered job. Trash picking is an uncovered job. The truth is that real jobs are 1.7 million lower than they were at the depths of the recession, while bullshit jobs paying virtually nothing and offering no benefits have surged by 6.6 million. These facts don’t make a great campaign commercial. The number of employed Americans is at the same level as mid-2005, even though the working age population has grown by 18 million. Since 2008 there are 3 million less full-time jobs and 3 more part-time jobs. This trend is accelerating as small businesses react rationally to the oncoming Obamacare train, resulting in aggregate work hours declining and wage growth stagnating.
Zero Hedge reveals more truth about our glorious jobs recovery with the following two charts. They obliterate the false narrative spun by liberal ideologues that the reason for the increase of those not in the labor force is due to Baby Boomers retiring. The truth is that while those in the 55-69 age brackets have gained nearly 4 million jobs under President Obama, everyone else has lost just over 2.5 million jobs. Is this a positive development or a sign of extreme desperation among older Americans who have seen their interest income vaporized by Ben Bernanke and there food, energy, and healthcare expenses skyrocket?
Those in their prime earning years of 25 to 54 still have a net cumulative loss of 2.2 million jobs since 2009. Recent college graduates, with their billions of student loan debt, have nabbed 400,000 TGI Fridays jobs, singing happy birthday to 3 year olds, with their newly minted college degrees. This is the “normal” healthy jobs market sold to the American public by the propagandists and politicians.
The final jobs chart that portrays the truth of what has been a decades’ long spiral downward paints a picture of a country that once created wealth through producing goods from the 1940s through 1970. Since 1970 we’ve degenerated into a debt creating country that consumes foreign produced goods and makes entitlement promises it can never keep. Selling houses to each other, peddling crap on Ebay, and eating out three times a week has shockingly failed to propel our economy. The jobs picture has deteriorated rapidly since 2008 and is not improving, despite the best propaganda money can buy. There is absolutely no chance of any substantive improvement over the next four years based on the policies in place and refusal to acknowledge the economic realities that we face.
The accumulation of material possessions through the use of consumer debt, peddled by bankers and reinforced through relentless corporate marketing propaganda has left the country’s citizens weary, miserable, greedy, indebted and sick. Our obsession with technology has merely provided another means of distracting ourselves from confronting the dire challenges that must be addressed. We can ignore the facts but that doesn’t mean they do not exist. The abnormality that grips this nation is breathtaking to behold, as the status quo cheer on and encourage consumers to buy more things with money they don’t have in order to support an economic recovery that is dependent upon zero interest rates for Wall Street banks, QE to infinity, and the delusional desire for a miraculous return to the good old days when getting something for nothing was possible. We can no longer deny reality. If we want to add 30 million people to Medicaid, it must be paid for. If we want to wage never ending wars and police the world, it must be paid for. If we want a Federal government to spend $3.8 trillion per year, it must be paid for. Nothing is free in this world, but more than 50% of Americans seem to believe that to be true.
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” – Philip Elliot Slater
We are seen by those in control as nothing more than common house flies caught in their web of lies. Your owners don’t care about you. They only care about their own wealth and power. They want to control and manipulate you. They want to keep you enslaved in debt and running on the treadmill of consumption. They want passive, non-critical thinking drones to do the menial service jobs that remain in this country, while they use their control of our financial, political, tax, and legal systems to ransack and pillage the wealth of the dwindling middle class. The truth is the continuation of our current economic system is mathematically impossible. Your owners know this. This is why the use of propaganda, misinformation, fake data, and false storylines has taken on astronomical proportions. The time for passivity and accepting the deceitfulness of our leaders is coming to an end. While you’re waiting in line this Christmas season at Wal-Mart to purchase a fabulously priced shirt that only required the deaths of 112 Bangladesh slave laborers, try to figure out how we got here. Your owners think they have you by the balls.
“They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest. You know something, they don’t want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. Because the owners of this country know the truth, it’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” – George Carlin
How many Americans are awake enough to handle the truth?
All I want for Christmas is the truth.
Bakken Formation, Coal, Energy Independence, ethanol, Fracking, Fukushima, gasoline, George Bush, hydro power, Infrastructure, Iran, Iraq, Jimmy Carter, Kuwait, Libya, Middle East, Mitt Romney, natural gas, Nuclear power, Obama, Peak oil, Rick Perry, solar power, South China Sea, tar sands, war on terror
PRICE OF A BARREL OF OIL 1978 – $14.00
“We are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process, rebuild the unity and confidence of America.” - President Jimmy Carter, 1979
“We have it in our power to act right here, right now. I propose $6 billion in tax cuts and research and developments to encourage innovation, renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, and energy-efficient homes.” - President Bill Clinton, 1998
“I think that in ten years, we can reduce our dependence so that we no longer have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela. I think that’s about a realistic time frame…That’s why I’ve focused on putting resources into solar, wind, biodiesel, geothermal. These have been priorities of mine since I got to the Senate, and it is absolutely critical that we develop a high fuel efficient car that’s built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but built here in the United States of America.” - President Barack Obama, 2008
“We don’t have to wait on OPEC anymore. We don’t have to let them hold us hostage. America’s got the energy. Let’s have American energy independence.”- Rick Perry, CNN Debate, October 18
“We must become independent from foreign sources of oil. This will mean a combination of efforts related to conservation and efficiency measures, developing alternative sources of energy like biodiesel, ethanol, nuclear, and coal gasification, and finding more domestic sources of oil such as in ANWR or the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).” – Mitt Romney
PRICE OF A BARREL OF BRENT OIL 2011 – $114.00
It is too bad that our 255 million cars can’t run on hot air. American presidents have propagated the Big Lie of energy independence for the last three decades. The Democrats have lied about green energy solutions and the Republicans have lied about domestic sources saving the day. These deceitful politicians put the country at risk as they misinform and mislead the non-thinking American public. They have been declaring our energy independence for 30 years, but we import three times as much oil today as we did in the early 1980’s. The CPI has gone up 350% since 1978, but the price of a barrel of oil has risen 800% over the same time frame. Today, I hear the same mindless fabrications from politicians and pundits about our ability to become energy independent. Any critical thinking analysis of the hard facts reveals that the United States will grow increasingly dependent upon other countries to supply our energy needs from a dwindling and harder to access supply of oil and natural gas. The fantasy world of plug in cars, corn driven vehicles and solar energy running our manufacturing plants is a castle in the sky flight of imagination. The linear thinking academic crowd believes a technological miracle will save us, when it is evident technology fails without infinite quantities of cheap oil.
I know the chart below requires some time to grasp, but I’m sure the average American can take five minutes away from watching Jersey Shore, Dancing with the Stars, or the latest update of the Kardashian saga to understand why the propaganda about energy independence is nothing but falsehoods. You have U.S. energy demand by sector on the right and the energy source by fuel on the left. Total U.S. energy use is nearly 100 quadrillion Btu. In physical energy terms, 1 quad represents 172 million barrels of oil (8 to 9 days of U.S. oil use), 50 million tons of coal (enough to generate about 2% of annual U.S. electricity use), or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (about 4% of annual U.S. natural gas use).
Please note that 37% of our energy source is petroleum, which supplies 95% of the energy for our transportation sector. That means your car and the millions of 18 wheelers that deliver your food to your grocery stores and electronic gadgets to your Best Buy. You can’t fill up your SUV with coal, natural gas, nuclear energy or sunshine. Without the 7 billion barrels of oil we use every year, our just in time mall centric suburban sprawl society would come to a grinding halt. There is no substitute for cheap plentiful oil anywhere in sight. The government sponsored ethanol boondoggle has already driven food prices higher, while requiring more energy to produce than it generates. Only a government “solution” could raise food prices, reduce gas mileage, and bankrupt hundreds of companies in an effort to reduce our dependence on oil. Natural gas as a transportation fuel supplies 2% of our needs. The cost to retro-fit 160,000 service stations across the country to supply natural gas as a fuel for the non-existent natural gas automobiles would be a fool’s errand and take at least a decade to implement.
The green energy Nazis despise coal and nuclear power, which account for 31% of our energy supply. They want to phase coal out. They aren’t too fond of fracking either, so there goes another 23% of our supply. You might be able to make out that itsy bitsy green circle with the 7% of our supply from renewable energy. And more than half of that energy is supplied by hydro power. Less than 2% of our energy needs are met by solar and wind. For some perspective, we need to use the equivalent of 17 billion barrels of oil per year to run our society and solar and wind supplies the equivalent energy of about 300 million barrels of that total. I think our green energy dreams will come up just a smidgen short of meeting our demands. Nothing can replace oil as the lifeblood of our culture and there is no domestic supply source which will eliminate or even reduce our dependence upon the 10 million barrels per day we import from foreign countries. There are some hard truths that are purposefully ignored by those who want to mislead the public about the grim consequences of peak cheap oil:
- The earth is finite. The amount of oil within the crust of the earth is finite. As we drain 32 billion barrels of oil from the earth every year, there is less remaining within the earth. We have drained the cheapest and easiest to reach 1.4 trillion barrels from the earth since the mid 1800s. The remaining recoverable 1.4 trillion barrels will be expensive and hard to reach.
- The United States has about 2% of the world’s proven oil and gas reserves, but consumes 22% of the world’s oil production and 27% of the world’s natural gas production.
- Demand for oil will continue to rise no matter what the United States does, as the developing world consumption far outstrips U.S. consumption. Oil is fungible and will be sold to the highest bidder.
- The concept of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) is beyond the grasp of politicians and drill, drill, drill pundits. EROEI is the ratio of the amount of usable energy acquired from a particular energy resource to the amount of energy expended to obtain that energy resource. When the EROEI of a resource is less than or equal to one, that energy source becomes an “energy sink”, and can no longer be used as a primary source of energy. Once it requires 1.1 barrels of oil to obtain a barrel of oil, the gig is up.
- There is a negative feedback loop that revolves around oil supply, oil price and economic growth. As demand continues to rise and supply is more difficult to access, prices will rise. Since oil is an essential ingredient in every aspect of our lives, once the price reaches $120 to $150 a barrel economic growth goes into reverse. Demand crashes and investment in new sources of energy dries up. Rinse and repeat.
World oil production peaked in 2005 has been flat since then, despite a continuous stream of promises from Saudi Arabia that they are on the verge of increasing production. The chart below from the U.S. Energy Information Administration propagates the standard fabrications about energy supplies. Even though worldwide oil production has clearly peaked, the oil industry PR whores and government agencies continue to project substantial production growth in the future. The mainstream media trots out Daniel Yergin whenever it wants to calm the masses, despite his track record of being 100% wrong 100% of the time. The brilliance of his July, 2005 Op-Ed shines through:
“Prices around $60 a barrel, driven by high demand growth, are fueling the fear of imminent shortage — that the world is going to begin running out of oil in five or 10 years. This shortage, it is argued, will be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from two giants: China and India. There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day — from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day — a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.”
Oil production capacity has not grown by one barrel since Yergin wrote this propaganda piece. This is despite the fact that prices have almost doubled, which should have spurred production. The current energy independence false storyline – the Bakken Formation – has gone from production of 10,000 barrels per day in 2003 to 400,000 barrels per day now, while the hundreds of millions invested in developing the Canadian tar sands have increased production by 50% since 2005. Despite these substantial increases in output, worldwide production has remained flat as existing wells deplete at the same rate that new production is brought online.
The facts are there is approximately 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil left in the crust of the earth. We currently suck 32 billion barrels per year out of the earth. This means we have 44 years of oil left, at current consumption levels. But we know demand is growing from the developing world. Taking this fact into consideration, we have between 35 and 40 years worth of recoverable oil left on the planet. That is not a long time. Additionally, the last 1.4 trillion barrels will much more difficult and costly to extract than the first 1.4 trillion barrels. The remaining oil is miles under the ocean floor, trapped in shale and tar sands, and in the arctic. Despite these hard facts, governmental agencies and politicians continue to paint a rosy picture about our energy future. I watched in stunned amazement last week as five bozos on the McLaughlin Group news program unanimously proclaimed the U.S. would become a net exporter of oil in the coming decade. Do these supposedly intelligent people not understand the basic economics of supply, demand and price?
It seems the governmental organizations always paint the future in the most optimistic terms, despite all facts pointing to a contrary outcome. The EIA predicts with a straight face that oil production will rise to 110 million barrels per day, while the price of a barrel of oil remains in the current $100 to $125 per barrel range. Non-OPEC production has been in decline since 2004, but the EIA miraculously predicts a 15% increase in production over the next 25 years. OPEC production has been flat since 2005, but the EIA is confident their 50 year old oil fields will ramp up production by 25% in the next 25 years. Does the EIA consider whether OPEC even wants to increase production? It would appear that constrained supply and higher prices would be quite beneficial to the OPEC countries. And then of course there is the unconventional oil that is supposed to increase from 4 million barrels per day to 13 million barrels per day, a mere 325% increase with no upward impact on prices. These guys would make a BLS government drone blush with the utter ridiculousness of their predictions.
The picture below is an excellent representation of how the easy to access oil and gas of the earth have been tapped. They were close to the surface. The remaining oil and gas is deeper and trapped within shale and sand. The new technology for extracting gas from shale has concerns regarding whether fracking and disposal of waste water can be done safely, especially near highly populated areas. The relationship between fracking and earthquakes could also prove to be problematic. The wells also have rapid decline rates. Add a mile of ocean to the picture below and you have some really expensive to access oil and potential for disaster, as witnessed with the Deep Water Horizon.
The EIA projects natural gas supply to grow by 10% between now and 2035 due to a 300% increase in shale gas supply. It seems the EIA believes the fantasy of 8 Saudi Arabia’s in the Bakken formation of North Dakota and decades of gas within the Marcellus Shale. These fantasies have been peddled by the natural gas industry in order to get support for their fracking efforts. This false storyline is damaging to the long-term planning that should be taking place now to alleviate the energy scarcity that is our future. In 2006 the EIA reported the possibility of 500 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken formation, based on guesswork. The U.S. Geological Survey has since scaled this back ever so slightly to 3.65 billion barrels, which is six months of U.S. consumption. The deceptions peddled regarding Marcellus shale are also colliding with reality. The U.S. Geological Survey recently produced an estimate of Marcellus Shale resources, which will cause the EIA to reduce its estimate of shale gas reserves for the Marcellus Shale by 80%. The price of natural gas is currently $3.54 MMBtu, down from $13 a few years ago. Extracting natural gas from shale has high capital costs of land, drilling and completion. It is not economically feasible below $6 MMBtu.
Based on the known facts and a realistic view of the future, there will be less supply of oil and natural gas as time goes on. We can already see the impact of these facts today. Even though Europe and the U.S. are in recession, the price of oil continues to rise. The developing world continues to demand more oil and the supply is stagnant. Stunts like withdrawing oil from the Strategic Reserve are foolish and politically motivated. Is the world then running out of oil then? No, but any increase in future global oil production will be modestly incremental and production could be thrown off course by any number of possible events, from an Israeli attack on Iran to (another, but successful this time) al Qaida attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil refinery. Any forecast regarding future oil production and prices isn’t worth the paper it is written on unless consideration to wars, revolutions and terrorism are factored into the equation.
We Don’t Matter
Americans like to think we are the center of the universe. Those who propagate the misinformation about U.S. energy independence are clearly math challenged. The total proven oil reserves in the world total 1.4 trillion barrels and the United States has 22 billion barrels of that total, or 1.6% of the world’s oil. The U.S. burns 7 billion barrels per year, so we have enough oil to survive for three whole years. The U.S. consumes 22% of the world’s oil despite having 4.5% of the world’s population and less than 2% of the world’s oil. Do these facts lead you to the conclusion the United States will be exporting oil in the near future?
When you hear the pundits breathtakingly describe our vast natural gas resources you would think we are the dominant player in this market. Not quite. The United States has 4% of the world’s natural gas reserves. Predictably we consume 22% of the world’s natural gas. Russia controls 25% of the world’s natural gas reserves, with the Middle East countries controlling 40% of the world’s reserves. The pundits can hype our “vast” supplies of natural gas, but the facts clearly reveal it is nothing but hype.
The U.S. is consuming less oil than it was in 2005. U.S. consumption is not the crucial factor in determining the price of oil today and our consumption will matter even less in the future. Emerging market countries, led by China and India, will be the driving force in oil demand in the coming decades. According to the IEA, “Non-OECD [emerging markets] account for 90% of population growth, 70% of the increase in economic output and 90% of energy demand growth over the period from 2010 to 2035.”
This demand is being driven by the growth in vehicles in emerging markets. The U.S. market has reached a saturation point, but China, India and the rest of the world are just beginning their love affairs with the automobile. The accumulation of facts regarding both supply and demand should even convince the most brainless CNBC talking head that the price of oil will continue to rise. The 2008 peak price of $145 per barrel will not hold. The tried and true American method of ignoring problems until they reach crisis proportions will bite us in the ass once again.
Slippery Road Ahead
The concept of EROI is incomprehensible to the peak oil deniers. When Larry Kudlow or one of the other drill, drill, drill morons proclaims the vast amount of oil in North Dakota shale and in Alberta, Canada tar sands, they completely ignore the concept of EROI. Some estimates conclude there are 5 trillion barrels of oil left in the earth. But, only 1.4 trillion barrels are considered recoverable. This is because the other 3.6 trillion barrels would require the expenditure of more energy to retrieve than they can deliver. Therefore, it is not practical to extract. When oil was originally discovered, it took on average one barrel of oil to find, extract, and process about 100 barrels of oil. That ratio has declined steadily over the last century to about three barrels gained for one barrel used up in the U.S. and about ten for one in Saudi Arabia.
The chart below clearly shows the sources of energy which have the highest energy return for energy invested. I don’t think I’ve heard Obama or the Republican candidates calling for a national investment in hydro-power even though it is hugely efficient. The dreams of the green energy crowd are shattered by the fact that biodiesel, ethanol and solar require as much energy to create as they produce. Tar sands and shale oil aren’t much more energy efficient. It’s too bad Obama and his minions hate dirty coal, because has the best return on energy invested among all the practical sources.
Worse than the peak oil deniers are those who pretend that oil isn’t really that important to our society. They declare that technology will save the day, when in reality technology can’t function without oil. Without plentiful cheap oil our technologically driven civilization crashes. We are addicted to oil. Americans consume petroleum products at a rate of three-and-a-half gallons of oil and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each. You might be interested in a partial list of products that require petroleum to be produced.
|Solvents||Diesel fuel||Motor Oil||Bearing Grease|
|Ink||Floor Wax||Ballpoint Pens||Football Cleats|
|Bicycle Tires||Sports Car Bodies||Nail Polish||Fishing lures|
|Cassettes||Dishwasher parts||Tool Boxes||Shoe Polish|
|Motorcycle Helmet||Caulking||Petroleum Jelly||Transparent Tape|
|CD Player||Faucet Washers||Antiseptics||Clothesline|
|Percolators||Life Jackets||Rubbing Alcohol||Linings|
|Skis||TV Cabinets||Shag Rugs||Electrician’s Tape|
|Tool Racks||Car Battery Cases||Epoxy||Paint|
|Mops||Slacks||Insect Repellent||Oil Filters|
|Roofing||Toilet Seats||Fishing Rods||Lipstick|
|Denture Adhesive||Linoleum||Ice Cube Trays||Synthetic Rubber|
|Speakers||Plastic Wood||Electric Blankets||Glycerin|
|Tennis Rackets||Rubber Cement||Fishing Boots||Dice|
|Nylon Rope||Candles||Trash Bags||House Paint|
|Water Pipes||Hand Lotion||Roller Skates||Surf Boards|
|Shampoo||Wheels||Paint Rollers||Shower Curtains|
|Guitar Strings||Luggage||Aspirin||Safety Glasses|
|Combs||CD’s & DVD’s||Paint Brushes||Detergents|
|Anesthetics||Artificial Turf||Artificial limbs||Bandages|
|Dentures||Model Cars||Folding Doors||Hair Curlers|
|Cold cream||Movie film||Soft Contact lenses||Drinking Cups|
|Fan Belts||Car Enamel||Shaving Cream||Ammonia|
The propaganda blared at the impressionable willfully ignorant American public has worked wonders. The vast majority of Americans have no clue they have entered a world of energy scarcity, a world where the average person is poorer and barely able to afford the basic necessities of life. This is borne out in the vehicles sales statistics reported every month. There have been 10.5 million passenger vehicles sold through the first 10 months of 2011. In addition to the fact they are “purchased” using 95% debt and financed over seven years, the vast majority are low mileage vehicles getting less than 20 mpg. Only 1.8 million small energy efficient vehicles have been sold versus 6.1 million SUVs, pickup trucks and large luxury automobiles. Americans have the freedom to buy any vehicle they choose. They also have the freedom to not think and ignore the facts about the certainty of higher prices at the pump. By choosing a 20 mpg vehicle over a 40 mpg vehicle, they’ve sealed their fate. How could the average soccer mom get by without a Yukon or Excursion to shuttle Biff and Buffy to their games? Have you ever tried to navigate a soccer field parking lot in a hybrid? The horror!
The American public has been lulled back into a sense of security as gas prices have receded from $4.00 a gallon back to $3.40 a gallon. This lull will be short lived. Oil prices have surged by 15% in the last two months, even as the world economy heads into recession. The link between high oil prices and economic growth are undeniable, even though the deceitful pundits on CNBC will tell you otherwise. Ten out of eleven recessions since World War II were associated with oil price spikes. Gail Tverberg sums up the dilemma of energy scarcity for the average American:
“High-priced oil tends to choke economies because high oil prices are associated with high food prices (because oil products are used in food growing and transport), and people’s salaries do not rise to offset this rise in food and oil prices. People have to eat and to commute to their jobs, so they cut back on other expenditures. This leads to recession. Recession leads to lower oil consumption, since people without jobs can’t buy very much of anything, oil products included. In some sense, the reduction in oil extraction is due to reduced demand, because citizens cannot afford the high-priced oil that is available.”
But don’t worry. The rising oil and food prices will only impact the 99% in the U.S. and the poorest dregs across the globe that spend 70% of their income on food. The 1% will be just fine as they will bet on higher oil prices, therefore further enriching themselves while the peasants starve. The market for caviar, champagne, NYC penthouses, and summer mansions in the Hamptons will remain robust.
There is no escape from the ravages of higher priced oil. There is plenty of oil left in the ground. But, the remaining oil is difficult, slow and expensive to extract. Oil prices will rise because they have to. Without higher prices, who would make the huge capital investment required to extract the remaining oil? Once oil prices reach the $120 to $150 per barrel range our economy chokes and heads into recession. We are trapped in an endless feedback loop of doom. The false storyline of renewable energy saving the day is put to rest by Gail Tverberg:
“Renewables such as wind, solar PV, cellulosic ethanol, and biogas could more accurately be called “fossil fuel extenders” because they cannot exist apart from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are required to make wind turbines and other devices, to transport the equipment, to make needed repairs, and to maintain the transport and electrical systems used by these fuels (such as maintaining transmission lines, running-back up power plants, and paving roads). If we lose fossil fuels, we can expect to lose the use of renewables, with a few exceptions, such as trees cut down locally, and burned for heat, and solar thermal used to heat hot water in containers on roofs.”
Predictably, the politicians and intellectual elite do the exact opposite of what needs to be done. We need to prepare our society to become more local. Without cheap plentiful oil our transportation system breaks down. Our 3.9 million miles of road networks will become a monument to stupidity as Obama and Congress want to spend hundreds of billions on road infrastructure that will slowly become obsolete. The crumbling infrastructure is already the result of government failure, as the money that should have been spent maintaining our roads, bridges and water systems was spent on train museums, turtle crossings, teaching South African men how to wash their genitalia, studies on the mating habits of ferrets, and thousands of other worthless Keynesian pork programs. If our society acted in a far sighted manner, we would be creating communities that could sustain themselves with local produce, local merchants, bike paths, walkable destinations, local light rail commuting, and local energy sources. The most logical energy source for the U.S. in an oil scarce scenario is electricity, since we have a substantial supply of coal and natural gas for the foreseeable future and the ability to build small nuclear power plants. The Fukushima disaster is likely to kill nuclear as an option until it is too late. The electrical grid should be the number one priority of our leaders, as it would be our only hope in an oil scarce world. Instead, our leaders will plow borrowed money into ethanol, solar, and shale oil drilling, guaranteeing a disastrous scenario for our country.
The United States is a country built upon the four C’s: Crude, Cars, Credit, and Consumption. They are intertwined and can’t exist without crude as the crucial ingredient. As the amount of crude available declines and the price rises, the other three C’s will breakdown. Our warped consumer driven economy collapses without the input of cheap plentiful oil. Those at the top levels of government realize this fact. It is not a coincidence that the War on Terror is the current cover story to keep our troops in the Middle East. It is not a coincidence the uncooperative rulers (Hussein, Gaddafi) of the countries with the 5th and 9th largest oil reserves on the planet have been dispatched. It is not a coincidence the saber rattling grows louder regarding the Iranian regime, as they sit atop 155 billion barrels of oil, the 4th largest reserves in the world. It should also be noted the troops leaving Iraq immediately began occupying Kuwait, owner of the 6th largest oil reserves on the planet. Oil under the South China Sea and in the arctic is being hotly pursued by the major world players. China and Russia are supporting Iran in their showdown with Israel and the U.S. As the world depletes the remaining oil, conflict and war are inevitable. The term Energy Independence will carry a different meaning than the one spouted by mindless politicians as the oil runs low.
And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
Nothing but Flowers – The Talking Heads
I know Daniel and SSS love articles by Paul Craig Roberts, so here is some light reading. I agree with his assertion that we are now conducting war in a third country – Pakistan. I don’t think Congress voted on this war either.
The War on Terror
Does anyone remember the “cakewalk war” that would last six weeks, cost $50-$60 billion, and be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues?
Does anyone remember that White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was fired by Dubya because Lindsey estimated that the Iraq war could cost as much as $200 billion?
Lindsey was fired for over-estimating the cost of a war that, according to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, has cost 15 times more than Lindsey estimated. And the US still has 50,000 troops in Iraq.
Does anyone remember that just prior to the US invasion of Iraq, the US government declared victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan?
Does anyone remember that the reason Dubya gave for invading Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, weapons that the US government knew did not exist?
Are Americans aware that the same neoconservatives who made these fantastic mistakes, or told these fabulous lies, are still in control of the government in Washington?
The “war on terror” is now in its tenth year. What is it really all about?
The bottom line answer is that the “war on terror” is about creating real terrorists. The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries and to keep the American people sufficiently fearful that they continue to accept the police state that provides “security from terrorists,” but not from the government that has discarded civil liberties.
The US government creates terrorists by invading Muslim countries, wrecking infrastructure and killing vast numbers of civilians. The US also creates terrorists by installing puppet governments to rule over Muslims and by using the puppet governments to murder and persecute citizens as is occurring on a vast scale in Pakistan today.
Neoconservatives used 9/11 to launch their plan for US world hegemony. Their plan fit with the interests of America’s ruling oligarchies. Wars are good for the profits of the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us in vain a half century ago. American hegemony is good for the oil industry’s control over resources and resource flows. The transformation of the Middle East into a vast American puppet state serves well the Israel Lobby’s Zionist aspirations for Israeli territorial expansion.
Most Americans cannot see what is happening because of their conditioning. Most Americans believe that their government is the best on earth, that it is morally motivated to help others and to do good, that it rushes aid to countries where there is famine and natural catastrophes. Most believe that their presidents tell the truth, except about their sexual affairs.
The persistence of these delusions is extraordinary in the face of daily headlines that report US government bullying of, and interference with, virtually every country on earth. The US policy is to buy off, overthrow, or make war on leaders of other countries who represent their peoples’ interests instead of American interests. A recent victim was the president of Honduras who had the wild idea that the Honduran government should serve the Honduran people.
The American government was able to have the Honduran president discarded, because the Honduran military is trained and supplied by the US military. It is the same case in Pakistan, where the US government has the Pakistani government making war on its own people by invading tribal areas that the Americans consider to be friendly to the Taliban, al Qaeda, “militants” and “terrorists.”
Earlier this year a deputy US Treasury secretary ordered Pakistan to raise taxes so that the Pakistani government could more effectively make war on its own citizens for the Americans. On October 14 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered Pakistan to again raise taxes or the US would withhold flood aid. Clinton pressured America’s European puppet states to do the same, expressing in the same breath that the US government was worried by British cuts in the military budget. God forbid that the hard-pressed British, still reeling from American financial fraud, don’t allocate enough money to fight America’s wars.
On Washington’s orders, the Pakistani government launched a military offensive against Pakistani citizens in the Swat Valley that killed large numbers of Pakistanis and drove millions of civilians from their homes. Last July the US instructed Pakistan to send its troops against the Pakistani residents of North Waziristan. On July 6 Jason Ditz reported on antiwar.com that “at America’s behest, Pakistan has launched offensives against [the Pakistani provinces of] Swat Valley, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Orakzai,and Khyber.”
A week later Israel’s US Senator Carl Levin (D,MI) called for escalating the Obama Administration’s policies of US air strikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas. On September 30, the Pakistani newspaper, The Frontier Post, wrote that the American air strikes “are, plain and simple, a naked aggression against Pakistan.”
The US claims that its forces in Afghanistan have the right to cross into Pakistan in pursuit of “militants.” Recently US helicopter gunships killed three Pakistani soldiers whom they mistook for Taliban. Pakistan closed the main US supply route to Afghanistan until the Americans apologized.
Pakistan warned Washington against future attacks. However, US military officials, under pressure from Obama to show progress in the endless Afghan war, responded to Pakistan’s warning by calling for expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan. On October 5 the Canadian journalist Eric Margolis wrote that “the US edges closer to invading Pakistan.”
In his book, “Obama’s Wars,” Bob Woodward reports that America’s puppet president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, believes that terrorist bombing attacks inside Pakistan for which the Taliban are blamed are in fact CIA operations designed to destabilize Pakistan and allow Washington to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
To keep Pakistan in line, the US government changed its position that the “Times Square Bombing” was the work of a “lone wolf.” Attorney General Eric Holder switched the blame to the “Pakistani Taliban,” and Secretary of State Clinton threatened Pakistan with “very serious consequences” for the unsuccessful Times Square bombing, which likely was a false flag operation aimed at Pakistan.
To further heighten tensions, on September 1 the eight members of a high-ranking Pakistani military delegation in route to a meeting in Tampa, Florida, with US Central Command, were rudely treated and detained as terrorist suspects at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport.
For decades the US government has enabled repeated Israeli military aggression against Lebanon and now appears to be getting into gear for another Israeli assault on the former American protectorate of Lebanon. On October 14 the US government expressed its “outrage” that the Lebanese government had permitted a visit by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is the focus of Washington’s intense demonization efforts. Israel’s representatives in the US Congress threatened to stop US military aid to Lebanon, forgetting that US Rep. Howard Berman (D,CA) has had aid to Lebanon blocked since last August to punish Lebanon for a border clash with Israel.
Perhaps the most telling headline of all is the October 14 report, “Somalia’s New American Prime Minister.” An American has been installed as the Prime Minister of Somalia, an American puppet government in Mogadishu backed up by thousands of Ugandan troops paid by Washington.
This barely scratches the surface of Washington’s benevolence toward other countries and respect for their rights, borders, and lives of their citizens.
Meanwhile, to silence Wikileaks and to prevent any more revelations of American war crimes, the “freedom and democracy” government in DC has closed down Wikileaks’ donations by placing the organization on its “watch list” and by having the Australian puppet government blacklist Wikileaks.
Wikileaks is now akin to a terrorist organization. The American government’s practice of silencing critics will spread across the Internet.
Remember, they hate us because we have freedom and democracy, First Amendment rights, habeas corpus, respect for human rights, and show justice and mercy to all.
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