Pandemic of Brainlessness
By Jim Kunstler
The glamorous Maria Bartiromo was just on CNBC talking globalism (and China in particular) with two Wall Street cretins. China is a great play said Cretin No. 1 because they have 300 million potential middle class customers for America's manufacturers. Excuse me, what do we still make that the Chinese either can't make themselves or can't copy five minutes from now?
As Cretin No. 2 waxed effulgent over China's fabulous prospects for growth, CNBC flashed a bunch of American brand logos across the screen, including Pepsi Cola and Exxon-Mobil. These companies are going to so clean up over there, Cretin No. 1 chimed in, or the shareholders are going to want to know the reason why.
Yeah, soda pop is really hard to make. They'll have to buy it from us. You thought computers were hard? There are four ingredients in soda pop (water, sugar, favoring, coloring ) and you have to get the proportions just right or it don't come out good!
As for Exxon Mobil, they're going to have enough trouble getting oil to their US customers five years from now -- leading us to the central fallacy of all the current cheerleading for the global economy: there isn't enough oil available worldwide to permit the industrialized nations to continue to expand. In fact, the industrial nations of the world will soon be competing desperately, perhaps even fighting over, the world's remaining oil, while all our economies contract remorselessly.
The public discussion over the global economy is symptomatic of America's new pandemic of brainlessness, the mainstream media especially. The head cheerleader, of course, has been Tom Friedman of the New York Times, author of The World Is Flat. Friedman and the rest of the cheerleading squad believe that that the global economy is a permanent institution. Now that it is established, we can only expect more of it. More and better. Forever.
What all these cretins seem to miss is the cold hard fact that today's transient global economic relations are a product of very special transient circumstances, namely, relative world peace and absolutely reliable supplies of cheap energy. Subtract either of these elements from the equation and you will see globalism evaporate so quickly it will suck the air out of your lungs.
Also, it must be obvious that relative world peace depends on equitable distribution of cheap energy. If the industrial nations don't get the oil and gas they need at a tolerable price, they are going to get very cranky, and when nations get cranky, peace itself is in short supply.
Three quarters of the world's oil is in the eastern hemisphere -- two-thirds of the total is in the Middle east alone. Guess what? All of it is a lot closer to China than it is to us. Some of it they can walk to. Do you have any idea how desperate for oil both China and America are going to be in five years? Do you have a clue how tapped out America's WalMart shoppers are going to be as jobs vanish and the value of a dollar craters in the face of runaway energy prices?
Globalism is yesterday's tomorrow. The future is about living locally on a much smaller scale. Pepsi Cola and Exxon-Mobil are exactly the kind of gigantic enterprises that are going to wither and die over the next decade. China is not tomorrow's geopolitical colossus, it's a geopolitical super train wreck waiting to collide with the reality of its environmental devastation, population overshoot, and energy starvation. Americans will be lucky if they can do each other's laundry ten years from now, let alone sell massive amounts of soda pop to people twelve thousand miles away.
Is it an accident that there is so much Realty TV in America when, in fact, there is so little reality?