Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Fifth Horseman? Peak Oil

Appearing under the rubric "Clusterfuck Nation," James Kunstler has unburdened himself of some dire premonitions. This is (more) sobering speculation on the terrifying possibilities that the incipient (or impending) collapse of cooperative world civilization under the burden of the sudden removal of cheap energy from petroleum from the economic equation.

Though Mr. Kunstler is not by any means the first to tread this path, his rhetorical boots echo ominously on the trail ahead. (DOTOF™:Station Charon/EdEncho)...The money quotes:
The banking fiasco has introduced so much noise into the system that world leadership can't think straight.

What they're missing is real simple: peak oil means no more ability to service debt at all levels, personal, corporate, and government. End of story. All the other exertions being performed in opposition to this basic fact-of-life amount to a spastic soft-shoe performed before a smokescreen concealing a world of hurt. If the "quantitative easing" (money creation) and fiscal legerdemain (TARPs, TARFs, et cetera) happen to jack up the "velocity" of the new funny-money, and the world resumes its previous level of oil use, the price of oil would rise again -- this time astronomically because the previous crash of oil prices crushed the development of new oil projects to offset depletion -- and the global economy will crash again.

Only the next phase of the disease is liable to move beyond the financial and into the social and political realms. Disorder of various kinds will rule -- toppled governments, civil unrest, international tension and conflict.
By this and many other analyses, we've likely have passed a critical horizon. "When the first brick goes through the first window, all bets are off."
President Obama will have to starkly change his current game plan if this outcome is to be avoided. I think he's capable of turning off the mob -- of preventing the grasshoppers from turning into ravening locusts -- but it may take an extraordinary exercise in authority to do it, such as the true (not pretend) nationalization of the big banks, engineering the exit of Ben Bernanke from the Federal Reserve, sucking up the ignominy of having to replace failed regulator Tim Geithner in the Treasury Department, and calling out the dogs on the swindlers who had the gall to play their country for a sucker.

The standard of living in America has got to come way down. We mortgaged our future and the future has now begun. Tough noogies for us. But the broad public won't accept the reality of this as long as the grandees of finance and their myrmidons appear to still enjoy the high life. They've got to be brought down hard, perhaps even disgraced and humiliated in the courts, and certainly parted from some of their fortunes -- if only in lawyer's fees. (Maybe) Mr. Obama pretty much served notice to this effect last week, telling a delegation of bankers in the White House that he was the only thing standing between them and "the pitchforks." It's possible he understands the situation.
It is also possible that, though he understands the situation, he's willing to turn the wrath of the STATE against its citizens in the interests of its OWNERS.

Me? I wouldn't bet a paper dollar against that...

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