circling around

Sunday 2012.09.30

So, what’s new? Well, this week’s events brought a major controversy about big issues of importance that really matter. Replacement referees in a football game blew a call and ruined the game! Won’t somebody think of the children? Finally, something that really gets everybody’s attention, a consensus about the problem, and the problem was resolved within days. A game of fouled up by a bad call of replacement referees taking the place of the referees who were locked out as a union, and everybody in the country, including a stampede of politicians who can’t deal sensibly and realistically with anything else, shout for the NFL and team owners to make nice with the referees and bring them back.

Celebration! The refs are back, and our great national institution of great importance is restored! This is what gets people’s attention and some action and things sorted in America in 2012. Football.

Just a couple of weeks ago as schoolteachers in Chicago were on strike, I flipped channels on TV ond day and came across Fox News just in time to hear somebody refer to the teachers as “union thugs”. Draw your own conclusions about priorities and sense of values.

Somehow, this episode seems to just fit with the current time, as we continue on through the strange saga of American politics of what seems like an endless presidential election campaign. Much of this epic is being treated like it’s some kind of sports league by what is supposed to be a functioning free press in America, informing the citizenry about things that matter with researched and verified facts.

As the presidential election campaign gets into its last month, any time I turn my attention to news, the bombardment of noise about the matter hits me everywhere, and I can’t avoid thinking about how badly American politics of the present is failing to honestly address and deal with the things that really matter.

 

You have to look hard to find the people taking a serious look around without the filters of what they wish or would like or just find easier to believe and ask difficult questions like, is the phenomenon of economic growth over?

We continue to have this hanging issue of the strange disconnect between the real economy, of work and commerce about useful things and work, in exchanges of value for value, and finance, which is supposed to support the real economy. We’re still sitting in the piles of mess generated when the worlds of banking and finance and trading of assorted financial packages became divorced and separated out into some surreal game unto itself, of theoretical money somehow turning into more money, with no apparent production of things or work of value to generate this.

Just days ago, a new announcement came forth from Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke, to present the latest from the Federal Reserve, the master plan people have labelled QE3.

In another round of manipulation and pretending to “fix” the economy, this includes a promise and plan for the Fed to buy billions of dollars of pretend-wealth worthless mortgage-based securities, every month. This is supposed to somehow jump start (or defibrillate) the economy, although “the economy” involved seems to pretty much mean banking and finance.

By random chance I came upon a monologue that was being delivered by Jim Cramer on CNBC as part of his Mad Money show (kind of a Glenn Beck of the financial world), where he was speaking in one of his rare less manic performances, saying how much he approved of Bernanke’s QE3 move and how good he thought this would be, pretty much reinforcing my initial thoughts that this move was going to just make things even worse.

I refer you to other people for their thoughts about this latest maneuver in central banking, such as Charles Hugh Smith, James Howard Kunstler, and The Automatic Earth blog.

If we would actually actually get our attention focused on a realistic picture of economic matters, one article digs into a fundamental subject, Globalized Growth Is the Problem, Localism Is the Solution. This is tough to get across.

Charles Hugh Smith takes a look at part of the games being played across the domains of banking, finance, and government/politics, in his piece “The Siren Song of “Beautiful Deleveraging” “.

 

It often strikes me as a little strange the way the word “capitalism” is thrown around. When you get down to the actual meaning of the word, it isn’t an ideology. It isn’t defined as anything not communism. It isn’t a political ideology, not some pseudo-religion or “belief system”. It’s about capital, the idea of some surplus wealth that’s invested in new or expanded business activities that, it is hoped, generate returns to accumulate more surplus wealth, and keep this going; i.e., “growth”.

As I’ve said here before, I’m not an economist or anything close to any sort of financial or business wizard, yet the thing is, it’s possible to see some of what has happened and is happening without some kind of great insight into economics and finance. I’ve also said this before.

In all the political chatter about the state of the economy, it’s frustrating to see all the dancing around avoiding things, with most of the arguments of R vs. D in political sports seeming to be arguments circling around and past things to make claims about who can somehow have the most growth in the economy like some non specific Good Old Days.

Here we are, still in the piles of wreckage resulting from Wall Street games of taking money loaned into existence, shovelled into incomprehensibly and insanely complex contrived games to build up appearances of growth and creation of wealth, concoct any possible legal way to extract money from transactions for the people concocting the games, and then leaving our government and all the rest of us to deal with the consquences, when the inevitable crash came for the house of cards divorced from ideas of investment in useful and productive work.

Now, we have this situation where, depending on how it’s accounted and viewed, astronomical amounts of capital, or “wealth”, have either frozen up, or simply disappeared somehow, or turned out to me mere illusions of bookkeeping that blew up when the games of the real estate bubble and banking and finance disintegrated (because there was no integrity to them to begin with).

Looking the presidential candidates, the criticism that should be directed at President Obama is that this hasn’t been dealt with, either in terms of the gross misconduct in banking and finance itself, or the staggering, almost incomprehensible piles of debt of assorted “financial products” that turned out to be worthless theoretical constructs that only “made money” for the people operating the schemes.

 

If you read back through my writing here in this blog, the subject of petroleum, and energy resources and use in general, is a subject that certainly does come up very frequently.

Tom Whipple in the Falls Church News-Press did a good piece about the general problems in the public realm of avoidance of getting a clear view of general “energy issues” we find ourselves in, and how it all relates to our economic problems. He gets straight to one glaring problem right off the bat in the first paragraph.

President Carter stepped up and dared to actually tell the American people how things were, and some of what we had to understand and deal with in terms of what we do and how we do it to fit physical reality, and the results were not what they should have been. Most of the American citizenry freaked out and threw a hissy fit tantrum, like Daddy had told them they couldn’t eat as much candy as they wanted and wouldn’t buy them more toys. Instead, they voted in Ronald Reagan as president rather than reelecting Carter to a second term, and opted for a retired mediocre actor and a fantasy replacement for reality.

I think it’s pretty clear that this set the course of national American politics for the three decades or so that have passed since then, and politicians and a large chunk of Americans have done a dance of self and mutual delusion ever since. I’ve been over that before, as have other people.

The link between diminishing returns in finite resources of underground hydrocarbons and problems with demands for endless, continuous, ever increasing financial growth still seems to escape most people, it’s really off the public radar completely. All that is generally makes it into view of the general public is all the kinds of confused and delusional thinking and assertions I’ve written about before so often that it’s tiresome.

As Barack Obama campaigns for reelection, his “energy plan” patronizes wishful thinking delusions by proclaiming to be on track to “produce more American energy”, for purposes of “energy independence”, ignoring the physical reality of finite resources, Hubbert’s curve of petroleum and the peak of US oil extraction rates four decades ago. The most absurd omission of conscious recognition of the obvious is shared by candidate Romney. That is, given a finite amount of a resource within your nation’s borders, using it up at a faster rate doesn’t give you “energy independence”, “independence from foreign oil”, it decreases the amount you have left, and decreases the rate you have left at a faster rate.

Obama is at least making token gestures about the importance of the general project of ways to power things using energy not derived from burning finite resources of hydrocarbons that everyone knew were a finite deal long ago, but it’s not nearly anything of the level of seriousness needed by the necessities and plain physical reality. This is a project that long ago, decades ago, needed the earnest attention, effort, and financial backing equal to any of the major projects and responses to urgent emergency circumstances in American history, something like the mobilization of World War II, the Manhattan Project, the construction of the American interstate highway system, and Kennedy’s challenge to the infant NASA to land men on the moon and return them safely by the end of the decade.

Romney’s “energy plan” is utterly detached from reality, and one odd twist was that he revealed his “energy independence” fantasy smoke and mirrors show with one detail that was not especially subtle, yet largely overlooked. This was talking about his notions of, not American “energy independence” (which in this context mostly ends up being about petroleum, with guest stars natural gas and coal, but always finite hydrocarbons), but suddenly and quietly shifting his talk to a notion of “North American energy independence”, a cheesy trick in which he counts oil extraction numbers (both present and imagined future fantasies) of Canada and Mexico, added to US figures. I don’t know what the Canadians and Mexicans think of that, but I suspect they’re a tad bemused by this.

More to the point here, neither man shows any sign of addressing the most primary and fundamental energy issue, which is that none of the fantasies will just simply enable us to continue to do everything that has become assumed as normal in the United States, based on assumptions of effectively unlimited, perpetual, and cheap hydrocarbon fuels.

I’ve also been over this before, as have other people.

In short, Obama’s “energy policy” is bad, Romney’s claimed “energy policy” is off the charts in levels of sheer delusion, gross pandering dishonesty, or even some mix of both. It’s a joke to anybody with any fucking clue of the basic matters of reality involved, and among them, nobody’s laughing.

 

So, there are people who support the quest for Willard Mitt Romney to be president. Everything about the man as a political candidate seems to revolve around the unreal, a nonstop show of shifting pandering and pure, blatant, pathological lying. With all that, it’s not even worth the time to discuss the subject much except as some kind of awful joke.

One thing to add is that the Steve Beren series “Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity” rolls on, for the simple reason that Mitt’s mendacity rolls on (and will probably never stop as long as he’s in the public eye), and is now on installment #36. Poor Beren. What a task to take on this thing is. Seriously; tracking, researching, itemizing and explaining the dissonance between facts of reality and what pours from the mouth of Willard Romney must be an overwhelming full time job. And, of course, with the situation we have under the heading of “the economy”, we still have the hovering cloud of unreality of the history of Mr. Romney’s business activity versus this notion of “successful businessman who knows The Private Sector and how to create wealth and jobs”.

 

Any of the very real and serious criticism that is due to President Barack Obama (including the things above) is virtually impossible to even get to, with all the noisy reality distortion and sheer fiction about him from the faux-news sources of bullshit we know so well (and, incredibly, a bunch of people take seriously), shrieking and growling about all kinds of scrambled nonsense and plain raw fiction.

With that kind of warped mental process often comes support for candidate Romney, with an astonishing number of people seriously asserting that this man should be president, seemingly for no other good reason than some percieved virtue of being The Not-Obama. In that alternate reality world, people are operating with some sort of fabricated model of Barack Obama as a cartoon villain with little to no connection to the actual reality.

 

I find myself repeating many of the same things. Time passes, things roll onward, and the same problems are still there. The same problems are still there and compounded by the same overall problems of a broad failure of public consciousness, understanding, and consensus about reality as it is.

So here we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. – Thomas Jefferson


%d bloggers like this: