confidence fairies are the problem [was: Energy demand ...]
From: Kay Argyle (Kay.Argyleutah.edu)
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 16:19:06 -0700 (PDT)
"... profits made by Big Oil ... can be used for exploration and development
of new technologies ..."

Let's see -- We can head off the approaching climate apocalypse,
preventative measures for which are being blocked by corporate interests, by
giving more power to corporations. 

Hmm. Instead of building cohousing, people who wanted community should have
spent their energy on electing the developers of box stores, mcmansions,
sidewalk-less "neighborhoods" bisected by arterials, and cul-de-sacs three
miles from the nearest place to buy milk, onto city commissions and zoning
boards, where they could be expected to create mixed zoning, pocket parks,
and walkable neighborhoods.

</sarc>

Profits _can be_ used for things other than breathtaking upper-management
bonuses. But will be? When pigs fly. 

Transformative technologies usually leave the old industries behind in the
dirt. In an alternative-energy future, new companies are likely to be the
winners. Big Oil realizes this and sensibly (from their point of view) wants
to postpone it as long as possible. Not only will they not develop
non-fossil-fuel technologies themselves, they will do their best to get in
the way of anyone else doing so.

It is the identical pernicious logic used by the supply-siders: Government
policies must enrich business, making them more confident (hence Paul
Krugman's term, "confidence fairies"), so that business will (supposedly)
then hire more workers. Let's ignore the fact that hiring is based on
demand, not corporate cash reserves. Having to pay workers a fair share of
the bounty their effort creates would lower business confidence, so for
their own good we mustn't let workers unionize.

For thirty years now, U.S. economic and labor policy has been to hold down
wages (and subsidize oil) to curb inflation. Demand for goods and services
has been artificially sustained through increased work hours, increased
consumer debt, decreased savings, and real estate bubbles. Oil use has been
sustained through relaxed fuel standards, urban sprawl, and military
intervention in the Mideast. 

To make up for falling wages and rising prices, married women have gone from
stay-at-home to part-time to full-time work (burning oil in ever-longer
commutes). How does a household increase its work hours past this point --
does the eight-year-old, the grandma with Alzheimer's, the family cat get a
job?

Everybody is overextended. When the economy falters, the mega-rich don't buy
enough breakfast cereal and $5 haircuts to pick up the slack in demand.

The recession-that-won't-go-away was predictable. The result of doing more
of what caused the recession is predictable. Yet the cheer continues,
"S-U-P! P-L-Y! what does it spell? Supply side, supply side!"

The middle class, meanwhile, is told their only hope lies in pleasing the
gods [Big Oil, developers, Wall Street, mega-church evangelicals, et al.].
To propitiate them, so they will be generous. Be grateful things aren't
worse. Don't be uppity. It's your own fault you aren't one of the mega-rich
yourself. Sacrifice, sacrifice.

Bah. I'm not a fan of learned helplessness. When the Olympians gets
unreasonable, forget burnt offerings. Get out the earth movers and
explosives and do a little mountaintop removal.

Kay
Wasatch Commons



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