Random Thoughts

1.  Americans’ Core Beliefs:

  • Don’t make me feel bad about the way I live, and
  • It will all work out, we’re Americans.

This is it really. This is our worldview these days.

2.  Socialism is KILLING this country.

    Yeah, well, except for the NFL, which is the richest global sports conglomerate, and the SEC, which the richest college athletic conference. See, they both share revenues among their members– taking from the richer and giving to the poorer. Or, as dedicated capitalists like to call it, “wealth redistribution.” They do this because they realize that by making everyone stronger, there’s more money in it for everyone. I’m just glad we don’t see that working in the real world – that would be horrible for this country.

3.  The difference in depressions.

There are significant, and not cheerful, comparisons between this depression and the last one 80 years ago:

    • Every year in the 1930s, the US pumped more oil than the year before, which meant that energy got cheaper every year. In fact, the US was the world’s largest oil producer until the 1950s.
    • In this depression, the world pumps LESS oil than it did the year before, making energy, food, and all consumer goods  more expensive.
    • In the 1930s, people were much less rooted. They could pick up and move to where the jobs were.
    • In this depression, people are much MORE rooted. We all have homes that we can’t sell, and thus are bound in place, regardless of whether there are jobs there or not.
    • In the 1930s, there was no global wage competition.
    • In this depression, nearly every job in the US is subject to global wage competition.
    • In the 1930s, the US had a population of around 100 million. Most of those folks lived on farms or in small towns.
    • In this depression, the US has a population of 310 million. Most of these folks live in the suburbs. This lifestyle makes us completely dependent on cheap oil. Without cheap oil, what becomes of this living arrangement?

4.  Why local food is so important.

    Here’s an ominous report: “Food for thought as prices in Asia continue to surge.” (Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday 9/4-5, 2010) Due to climate change related weather impacts (my inference) the price of food is soaring. Vegetable prices are up 22% in China; food prices in Indonesia are up 13.2%. A similar story is occurring around Asia.

    Here’s why this matters to us: we live in a global food economy. As such, the prices of our food can be expected to rise as well. Combine this with higher energy prices due to peak oil and stagnant wages due to globalization and a sky high US unemployment, and we are in for a serious bout of stagflation. We will pay MORE for basics, while earning less. And that’s bad news for an economy based on people having lots of discretionary income.

    Bless those in our community who are working to help us regain food independence.

5.  Big oil in Greenland

    Reports are coming out of Greenland about a “big” oil find. Why Greenland? Peak oil of course. It’s not like the oil world just woke up and said. “hey, let’s try that place.” Drilling off the waters of Greenland is very challenging, thus making the oil that comes up very expensive.

    How much oil is there? 4 BILLION BARRELS! Yes! What? That is only 46 days of global supply at present consumption rates? Oops. Oh, but there is a potential 17 billion barrels in the harsh arctic waters between Greenland and Canada – that’s a lot right? Nope. 200 days.

    Folks peak oil has got us. Supposedly big finds in hard places just don’t add up to anything. This year, total new finds have added something like a couple of years to TOTAL oil supply. It’s not getting better, despite the headlines.

6.   South Korea gets peak oil.

    The South Korean government is getting very aggressive to ensure that they can continue to supply their oil demand (which is 2 million barrels a day – 1/10th of US consumption.) They are in talks to buy Dana Petroleum, a Scottish Oil company. Dana seems to have a knack for finding small scale deposits, which is fine for the South Koreans.

    Here’s the big difference between them and us. The South Koreans buy oil companies. The US starts wars for oil companies.

7.  NOW is our reset time.

    We’ve been given a great luxury over the last 2 years – the gift of time. Nothing going forward will be like it was in the past. We can use this time to reset our expectations, our energy policies, our workforce training, everything. Will we?

8.  Creating a Place Based Economy

Peak oil and other predicaments is forcing a relocalization on us. Yet most experts are still tuned into a “global” economy. That’s a sucker bet. We must demand one primary thing from our economic development efforts: we will only grow jobs that can’t be outsourced. We will not take junk jobs that will leave people and the city in limbo every time corporations try to reduce costs.

Here’s a quick list of place based jobs that can sustain a place based economy.

    • Energy conservation – adapting to existing conditions as well as planning forward – these jobs can range from window manufacturing to green roof installers, to designers and engineers who understand our micro conditions.
    • Energy generation – both large and small scale
    • Teachers of alternative skills needed for the new age versus continuing to rely on the educational industrial complex
    • Alternative healers versus continuing to rely on the healthcare industrial complex
    • Alternative transportation – building and fixing bikes, small private mass transit (pedicabs), errand services
    • Redeveloping suburbia – to get basic human needs in proximity of where people live
    • Local food – from production to adding value to cooking
    • Plumbing and sanitation
    • Salvage – deconstruction of the useless for useful components
    • Locally made basics – cooking utensils, tools, clothing, repair of all kinds – our new mantra: “We can’t afford cheap shit anymore!”
    • Creative (I mean that in the legal sense) financing – helping do more with less.
    • Adding value to local minerals and other resources
    • Climate mitigation and adaptation experts
    • What else?

All of these are market based, not reliant on government. We must foster a new generation of entrepreneurs in each of these areas. We as a community need to send the signals that we will support them.

Notice that this is not an export based system. This is a locally based sustaining system. We may sell our products and services outside of Lexington, but we don’t need to to make it work.

None of these is going to make anyone rich. But they all will enable more people than ever to have an acceptable standard of living and a high quality of life. Compare this to the recent highly heralded announcement of 700 junk jobs here. Half would be part time, no benefits. The average starting wage will be $10 an hour. We can do better by our people and our city by getting off the global economic treadmill.

Now is the time – we’ve been given the blessing of time. We can get it right. Remember, this isn’t a choice.

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