It’s not really new, but I wanted to propose a thought experiment. Go to any of several high technology gadget reviewing websites, like ZDNet, CNet, Ars Technica, etc. Look at discussions about, say the Windows 8 roadmap, or the plans for the next new batch of tablet computers and smart phones. Now, overlay that with the more conservative estimates of global economic meltdown. We might get a Windows 8, but will anybody be able to afford it, with food prices projected to more than double this year?
Surely you realize the unrest in the oil producing regions of the Africa and the Middle East will drive up the price of petroleum. It already has, and it’s going to continue. Not so much because supplies will be cut off — they will be reduced, inevitably, but we could handle that. Rather, it’s because the entire market is controlled by speculators who don’t give a rat’s patootie about anyone but themselves and their own bottom line in the short term. If they really were seeking their own welfare, they’d not be so eager to bleed the host dry, but they lack the long view. We, the consumers who offer the market where they sell their stuff, can not sustain much more of a price increase.
It’s not just the price of the fuel you burn getting around, but the fuel everyone burns bringing stuff to the stores and other places you spend your money. That, plus the fuel for climate control and lighting in those places. Everything you touch is stained with vast amounts of that petroleum, so the current sudden vault over the $100/barrel mark is just the beginning. Estimates I’ve seen from those who know far more than I suggest $200 this year is entirely likely. Doubling the price of fuel has a ripple effect, more than doubling the price of other things.
Some operators will simply be priced out of the market, no longer able to operate. Does one supplier have sufficient resources to take up the slack when one of their competitors collapses? There aren’t many competitors in some markets, and many are closing outlets right now. Some have already folded because of the economic decline — empty factories, warehouses in ruins, ghost-town neighborhoods where workers once lived.
Don’t look for a tipping point; we are already past that. Those uprisings are about food, not luxuries. They are about tyrants and oligarchs holding a gun to people’s heads and demanding they do without even as they bust their tails to keep working. The noise in Wisconsin isn’t about food just yet, but two brands of oligarchs duking it out over who gets to crack the whip over the slaves. Nobody in that battle is starving. But the rest of the world really is about food and basic human dignity, not privilege. Once it starts, it spreads like wildfire, and we are to blame.
We Americans are to blame because we refused to believe when whistleblowers warned us, and we entrenched that unbelief into a cultural bias several generations back. Sign posts are easy to find, but let’s just point out the birth of the Federal Reserve in 1913, or the birth of state-centered public education about the same time. In a thousand ways we turned a blind eye to the truth of evil in our midst, and by our own beloved leaders. We preferred the lies to the truth about them. So we ended up a big nation, the biggest and nastiest tyrant in the history of the humanity thus far. We are the ones who put those evil thugs over those nations now in revolt, by allowing our various government agencies free rein, refusing to see their crimes. It won’t matter why; the sins are ours.
That wild and happy consumption ride is about over. Our cheap and over-powered rattle-trap monstermobile will finally lose one piece too many and crash into some barrier. When the misery we’ve foisted on so many others comes home, it will be the full weight of all our evils combined. Justice from God’s hand is sweet to His children, but woe to those who have ignored Him by virtue of lying to themselves about what He said.
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