Archive for February, 2011

Surveying the Pit

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

In the previous posting, I took a look at the notion of humanity digging itself down into a pit. The more I consider this view, the better a model I find it to describe the actions, thinking, and economic/political activities of modern humankind.

I’ve been following, as I noted in the previous posting, the writings of a wide variety of so called Peak Theorists/Commentators, and began to note certain… how to put this nicely?… let’s call it, oddities, about their views. Certain things don’t fit the facts, that is. This is not to discount the actual substance of the analysis presented, for example, as this recent WikiLeaks Cable clearly shows (story), the views criticized by the establishment as ‘nutty’ or ‘deluded’ are in fact basically exactly right. In this case, the leaked cable shows that the Saudis admit they have both overstated their reserves, by about 40%, exactly as it was said they had, and are lying about their ability to generate new supplies in terms of daily production rates.

So there’s no problem with most of the core engineering facts related to various so called ‘peak’ issues.

No, the problem lies much more deeply in my opinion, and that problem is rooted in how we as humans are chosing to view this situation. By projecting everything upwards, we in turn manage to suggest we are progressing. But we are not progressing, if we were, our planet would not be losing its ability to support life, the resources we are extracting at breakneck speeds would not be hitting extraction maxima, the ecosystem would be thriving, not dying off and losing diversity at record rates, and so on.

There is another serious problem with viewing matters as if we had attained some height, and that is that it suggests that all we need now to do is to step down from the peak and make our way back to the lower realms. In other words, don’t worry, gravity will pretty much take care of things for us.

I’ll be investigating these matters for a while, so I hope a few of you will bear with me, and possibly even contribute thoughts of value to the process. Please note that repeating dogmas and propaganda generated by the corporate media, especially the right-wing corporate media, is not a positive contribution, but it will be one of the areas I examine in the coming postings, if things go as planned.

A Drop of Sanity Re Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Now and then I come across a posting made by someone that is so perfect in terms of how it explains a problem I have to post the entire thing, with little further commentary. In general I’m not going get as much into specifics like this in the future, unless the points are exceptionally well and clearly stated, as this one is. RockyMtnGuy is a petroleum engineer from Canada, by the way.

This one is from Feb 8, 2011 Drumbeat

RockyMtnGuy on February 8, 2011 – 10:22am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread | Comments top

“I’ve lived in a few countries, and in every single one of them, I paid tax in order to have health care on demand.” [quoted from a posting above this one]

In most countries, health care is considered an entitlement. If you live there, you are entitled to health care, although how it is paid for varies considerably.

It is like paying for the roads in the US. The US built a very impressive Interstate highway system. If you lived there, not paying for it was not an option. It came out of your taxes, or out of user fees such as gasoline taxes. Nobody had to sign up for the right to drive on an Interstate highway, nor did they have the right to opt out of the system on the grounds the didn’t want to use it. Everyone in the US can use the Interstate highways “for free” because not paying for them was not an option.

In other developed countries, the medical insurance programs are funded much like the US Interstate highway system. Not paying for them is not an option.

The difficulty the US has is that many people do not want to or cannot afford to pay for medical services – the 45 million people who do not have medical insurance. The real difficulty is that these people might well die due to lack of services, so there are systems such as “Medicaid” which pays for families with low incomes, and “Medicare” for people who are aged 65 and over, all funded by the taxpayer.

In the US, the insurance companies get to “cherry pick” the low-risk population and pay for about half of the total costs, and the government gets stuck with the other half of the costs incurred by the high-risk welfare and elderly population. In other countries, “cherry picking” is not allowed.

Cherry picking – the activity of pursuing the most lucrative, advantageous, or profitable among various options and leaving the less attractive ones for others.


Finding Our Way Out of the Pit

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I’ve been giving some thought to the way the discussion about our present and future are engaged in online especially, also of course in print. A few things have struck me after tracking the main authors and sites (see right sidebar for some fo the better representatives of this genre) for a few years, most started by a sneaking suspicion that there is something wrong in the mindset that is driving the discussion. Some of these problems are somewhat obvious, for example authors who benefit from attracting attention to themselves, which in turn sells books. Others are less obvious, and quite a bit more insideous, since they actually make it hard for us to even see what the problem is.

Given the degree of the problem, one thing is becoming more obvious: any changes to come are going to happen in totally unexpected ways. Why? Because we are entering into uncharted territories when it comes to how we believe the world works versus how the world actually works. The key word here of course is sustainability. If you can come to understand this word, you are pretty much most of the way home.

Near term it’s hard to see anything positive happening politically in the USA, unless you consider a non-stop barrage of instigation to violence from the neo-con far right, resulting in, surprise, violence, as a positive. That model is tried and true, admittedly, worked well for the brown shirts too. Personally I’d suggest anyone with any integrity distance themselves from such types, unless that’s the future you want of course.

Or the idea that force-feeding even more capital into large corporate systems (aka, health care ‘reform’ [pray tell, how is forcing more money into the HMO system, thus making it stronger, reform?], military outsourcing, etc) is somehow going to help actually solve our problems.

The main structural problem the EU will face is lack of domestically produced resources. The main positive the core European nations possess: a reasonably coherent political system, and reasonably rational voters who actually understand things when pushed, and of course, a sense of place, of history, mental, linguistic horizons broader than the local walmart parking lot or corporate funded tv/radio shows…

Almost the opposite of the US, oddly.