Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stopping the Slide

Unless we employ a miraculous new source of energy that is at once safe, sustainable, abundant and cheap, life in most first-world nations will, over the next two or three decades, come to more closely resemble life as it existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries rather than that which is visualized by conventional 21st-century futurists. Sorry, no flying car for you.

While the current socioeconomic system collapses beneath the weight of its own deficiencies and inertia, people wonder how things got so bad and clamor for government to do something. What many people don’t realize (or won’t admit to) is that they, too, are complicit in creating the problems that now threaten to disrupt life as we’ve known it. No one wants to face reality when it challenges the perceived safety of personal comfort zones and threatens the American way of life.

Nor do many people seem to realize that government has been co-opted by the same corporate interests that led us all astray, so that any expectation of real help arising out of government action amounts to little more than wishful thinking. If past performances are indicative of government’s capabilities of delivering help to the common people in times of crisis, then whatever effort government puts forth on our behalf to deal with current crises will either be wrong or a case of too little too late.

Our dying economy is based on the false premise that it can grow indefinitely, but ours is a finite world that long ago exceeded its carrying capacity, and the resources that fuel the economy exist only in finite amounts. There is nothing in all of reality to suggest that our current economic system is in any way sustainable.

Precious little time remains in which to stop this slide into utter chaos. While politicians, Wall Street titans and corporate CEOs debate endlessly about the relative merits of this stimulus plan versus that stimulus plan and quibble over which group of elites is the rightful heir to all the proposed taxpayer largesse—and whether or not to pay bonuses to the very executives that created this financial debacle—the likelihood of bailing out the economy before it hits rock bottom grows ever more remote.

No amount of money injected into the economy at the top end will aid in economic recovery. Anything that serves to make wealthy people wealthier without first passing through the hands of the working class will do nothing to lift the working class. Because money always finds its way to the top (and rarely vice versa), the only way to kick-start a stalled economy is to inject the money at the bottom and let nature run its course.