A Little Late Summer Sun

Right, let's shake the bars a little. It's my first weekend off in a while, the Sun is shining pleasantly on a cool late August Day, and after a nice tortilla breakfast, (well, I say tortilla, but Huevos rancheros is possible too), I thought that I'd have a look at alternatives to the doom and gloom with which the largely accurate and illiberal pronouncements of this blog are usually associated. I'd like to be uplifting for a while anyway; if I can impose upon readers, my mother would welcome your prayers again and so would I. She's at the foot of another peak, which she will scale, but there are times when you wish you were either on top or in the valley with a beer.

Let's look at the gloomy, and realistic scenario, first. In a parody of Medieval microcosmic analogies, the financial system is riddled with imbalance. Globally, states with trade surpluses are accumulating dollars which are depreciating in the United States at a different level to the reserve dollar in the markets, because inflation and purchasing power are different. One thing that such states are being forced to do, to keep their own economies going, is to lend a large portion of their earnings to the states with deficits, and in particular to the USA.

This is a sort of Jevons paradox of the crack world; the more likely it is that a thing will run out, the more people who shouldn't have it and who are wasting it want it, and the more frantically pushers will need to provide it.

Ultimately, trouble awaits. China's surplus is inflationary and destabilising and mediated through strange branches of the Communist Party that westerners have named 'banks', given the political similarity to their own oligopolistic and fiasco-ridden institutions.

Abortion has also delivered Asia a vast surplus of young men with no hope of a wife, house, proper job, or any fall in food and energy prices. The usual outcome of this sort of thing is war, which is why the build-up of large forces going on in the China seas ought to worry us all, as ought the wilful destruction by the west of the idea of the rule of law and sovereignty in the past ten years.

Moving down a scale to what we might call the mid-cosm, Europe and the United States are also being racked by imbalances of dollars and euros, as major parts of their single markets are locked into debt either by politics or currency, and others are forced to pay for them. California could do better by bringing in a peso, and Greece a drachma--but neither is going to happen, and so the bonds of the states and cities are going to be a burden for all. In reaction, Germany and Texas are going to bring forth an half-tonne of self justifying rhetoric which, when the history is written, will have strangely overlooked the influence upon the governments or opinion formers of those zones of their own banks and financial interests.

Meanwhile, a connection between sunspots and climate having been established, a series of cold winters amounting a maunder minimum allied to rising oil prices are going to make food very expensive. This in turn will produce great tension in an American working class whose living standards have been falling since 1973 and whose calorific intake has been maintained by corn subsidies, industrial meat production, and cheap oil.

At the microcosmic level, people are drowning in student, mortgage, credit card and bank debt, inflation is eating at incomes, stagnation is powering a descent through part-time work to unemployment, and that cold winter is going to mean a choice between heat and food for many. Riots don't begin to cover what could come.

So, how to pivot? How to think of a way out of this awful story? The fevered fantasies of left and right, which never really got over eugenics, would have us believe that a war or environmental collapse 'should' happen, and that those alive today must acknowledge that they are well past the point of diminishing returns for growth. Austerity, cutbacks, and a drop in global wages accompanied by debt destruction in a very slow way are the order of the day. There is no alternative.


What about railways to restore global demand and rebalance the world economy? Russia this month committed $65 billion dollars to a Bering Strait tunnel. They've been using their accumulated capital not on exterior purchases (whatever the number of truck-like gold-ridden cars I come across in west London on a daily basis) but, for once, on the only way that anyone ever has ever thought Russia would succeed--the exploitation of Siberia. Railway lines now run north and west, and south. The Ukraine and Russia are again in harmony on gas pipes and wheat production. Imagine what would happen if a railway were to link Canadian and Siberian resources, reining in a China which is already dependent on Asean, lifting Canada, and reducing to a question of economies of scale the issue of getting pipelines and water to the western American states?

A series of Hoover-dam style projects, based around a global railroad going down the Americas and across Eurasia could soak up derivative debt by rolling it forward into new project insurance, encourage the development of an Indo-Asean energy grid, stabilise the Indo-Pak relationship and unlock coal, uranium, and metals well into the next century. It could provide money and settlement in empty areas for Asia's male surplus, and provide the west, which has an engineering lead, with a boost.

We could manage the decline of peak oil, and put the surplus monies into the exploration of the thorium option for cheap, safe reactors, and that in itself would lead us to a world that could support nine billion comfortably, with energy, and which could spread out and take the resources of the moon. The new engineering boom could inspire other engineering booms; ceramic scramjets, space elevators, and airships. We could live without war, by our wits...we could do so much.

By force of finance and growth, Europe could come out of the fortress radical, impoverished Islam will probably put us into for fifty years, global imbalances could be addressed through the development of parallel currencies once people started believing in political possibilities, faiths could spread, and a Christian Russia and Christianising China could lead to a thousand years of civiisation. The abortion-ridden, fearful, consumerist liberal secular virus and their radical jihadi counterparts would have been contained, having done their worst, and proper families would slumber on a kind and properly exploited earth.



That's not going to happen.

I realised as I wrote that where things were going. Into the realms of nutty happenstance and lalaland is where they were going. It's all very well wishing consummations devoutly hither and anon, but the truth is probably more that the flaws in us will radically imbalance the potential. I wish it were not so, and wish that more could find in faith the chance to be bigger and better than their own mind.

Still, it's nice to dream, isn't it? I hope that you have the dry and canned foods in, and enough of a winter plan to keep you going reader. From here on in, it's continued descent.


Martin Meenagh said…
Mary from Australia--thank you very much for your comment, and I will say a prayer for your nephew. I assume that you wanted the usual discretion, but if not just say and I'll put the comment up.

Very best

Anonymous said…
See, all of that I am perfectly fine with, but I am a sucker for building things on a large scale. But how do you convince republican leaning people of things like this? People who think any government expenditure that isn't military based is frivolous and unconstitutional?

Martin Meenagh said…
You tell them that it bypasses China and allows the Canadians to make money from oil and water by bringing it to Californians. In time, this will turn British Columbia into the Texas that Jesse Helms and William Seward always knew that it was going to be, and they'll join the Union as Republicans. Also, since they like the spirit of free enterprise that the New Deal killed off so much, they can welcome all the new entrepreneurs who'll be riding the rails to work for food, just like in those Disney movies of the twenties and thirties.

Or you could tell them that Lyndon LaRouche is big on this too.