Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where We Can Go (3 of 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2 first


What would an alternative look like? There is a great deal to be optimistic about once we discard our ideological blinders and use the tools at our disposal. This is not to suggest we don't face major challenges, we do.  Two out of every five calories mankind consumes are the product of nitrogen produced from fossil oil: this will have to change as the finite resource on which we are in fact feeding will eventually be depleted. While it isn't yet clear what the consequences of anthropogenic global climate change will be, it is clear the climate is changing with unending consequences: processes set in motion by our technologies are unpredictable and irreversible. Sustained adaptation, continuous change, will be the only viable response to continuous environmental evolution.

While the scale of these problems is enormous, their speed leaves them well within our ability to cope. These forces we have set in motion will affect everything we do henceforth. However they will not determine what we ultimately do. We simply know too much as a species to be materially constrained: as we organize ourselves to benefit from the oceanic reserve of knowledge embedded in the minds of seven billion reproducing souls it is pure fatalism to imagine we can't create opportunities from the challenges into which the future will inevitably crystallize.  And the history of civilization is the history of ever growing organizational systems that aggregate ever larger groups of people into effective, prosperous, healthier and longer living communities driven there by changing conditions.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Where We Are (2 of 3)

Read Part 1 first 


The cash piles and mountains of Treasuries sitting idly or nearly so on Western investors' balance sheets are the mirror image of the demand collapse: they are two ways of seeing the same thing.  If I recall correctly it was A. C. Pigou who said "economics is the art of making simple things complicated".  With regard to Macro-Economics, the efforts of the last two generations of PHDs has proven his point by their almost universal failure to predict the implosion of the illusory Great Moderation in a monumental financial collapse.  The so called Moderation has been revealed as the Class Cold War it actually was. In this war, pure propaganda against all the available evidence of real outcomes, well funded by corporate managements and corporate media, has cloud and debased popular understanding in a miasma of obfuscatory complexity. While Americans have an accurate sense that the US Government no longer works for them, they have been deliberately deceived as to who it does in fact work for while for forty years it lined corporate bottom lines with productivity gains diverted from working Americans.

During the Carter Administration, while Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan were whispering in the Presidents ear, the Supreme Court determined in Buckley vs Valeo that paying politicians bribes was a Constitutionally protected form of political speech.  This metonymy began the process of converting what had been a corrupt political forum into a near spotlessly efficient political marketplace. While successive court cases have codified the structure of regulation in this market in detail, this efficiency has come at the cost of divorcing politically viable ideas from popular needs. As the upward wealth redistribution of Neo-Liberalism advanced, the political marketplace, like all market places, lost touch with poverty and real human need to focus ever more efficiently on ideas that could be exchanged for cash: it went where the money is.