Friday, November 14, 2008

Once the Post-Election Giddiness Subsides

I've found myself regularly checking out the Breaking News section of Matt Savinar's Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash website. A thin Savinar book -- The Oil Age Is Over, a gift from a friend -- had been my harsh intro to Peak Oil a couple of years ago. He's regarded as a hardcore "doomer" -- i.e. he not only believes that we're running out of oil, but that life as we know it now is going to change so drastically as this progresses that most of us can't even envision how great an impact it will have on the things we take for granted today.

Over the past couple of months, the stories about what's going on with the US economy (as well as the global economy) have been pouring in and out of there -- and they're almost all from ordinary mainstream sources ranging from the NY Times to the Wall Street Journal. He's basically compiling what's out on the wire already, bringing it all together. And when you see all of those articles together, it certainly leaves a stronger impression. Things aren't good in the US. At all. And while a large segment of the US population may have breathed a collective sigh of relief when the geography-challenged moose-hunting momma didn't become their next Vice President, the truth seems to be that all history-making socio-cultural wows aside, this big "change" that's supposed to happen in Washington is just going to be the perpetuation of a government run by the same handful (albeit shuffled) of Washington insiders who've been drifting in and out of there for years.

So, what now? Oil prices have been going back down after a huge drop in consumer demand, so after a flurry of interest in Peak Oil over this past summer, the topic seems to have been banished to a back shelf in somebody's tool shed. Obama was just elected, so all of this tension and anxiety over recent goings on at Wall Street seem to have been forgotten, when the truth is that things are just starting to rock and roll there. Consumers are spending less (not such a bad thing, in my opinion -- although spending and incurring debt is what props up the US economy). Now there are more and more stories about the rate of unemployment spiking -- perhaps more so than people realize or the government is willing to admit.

This whole bailout thing -- it's now turning into a smorgasbord for credit card companies, auto manufacturers who are having a hard time pushing their gas guzzlers on the public, and others who want a turn at the cookie jar. Heck, American Express just got reclassified as a bank so that it could access more funding from the government. How cool is that?

I'm just wondering how long it's going to take for the post-election afterglow to fade. I hope it's sooner than later.


J said...

The glow faded for me the day after the election when I began to read the progressive media discuss the people who may end up in Obama's cabinet. To be honest, I am disappointed, but not surprised that we are seeing a rehashing of the Clinton administration forming around Obama. I don't know why we think that we elect the right person and everything is fine. The people of America have forgotten that democracy is not something won and then put on a shelf to collect dust, that it has to be participatory.

I am happy to see people spending less, even with the prices of oil going down, but sadly, as you note, debt and consumer spending are the basis for our economy - which is heading further and further into the tank. And we haven't even dealt with the whole credit card situation yet. I don't think it is going to be pretty here. I've also been reading World Made by Hand (by Jim Kunstler) which hasn't helped my optimism. I guess I fear that the economy will also overshadow the environment and keep us from being able to make the infrastructure and other changes we need to.

Things are going to be interesting here and I can only hope that the movement that sprung up around Obama will retool itself into some sort of movement that pushes for change.

It is always nice to hear what someone outside the "bell of the beast" thinks about what is going on here. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but Barack will only save the day if we make him do it. The will of the people has to be behind it. And honestly, I don't know what the will of mainstream America is anymore.

M said...

I've been getting a lot of my info from a friend who works right in NYC in the middle of much of what's been going on (as a funny aside, he refers to his workplace as "the belly of the beast").

The more I read about Obama's transition, the more I see the media harping on the fact that he's surrounding himself with career Washington insiders. I doubt there'll be many surprises from here on out.