Re: confidence fairies are the problem [was: Energy demand ...]
From: David Fitelson (
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 16:26:54 -0700 (PDT)


On Jul 15, 2011, at 7:19 PM, Kay Argyle <Kay.Argyle [at]> wrote:

> "... 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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