Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Wisconsin man tours
Real Estate open houses
to steal women’s panties.

I confess to not being a fan of Pat Buchanan. After all, he is a Republican and that in itself is enough to put me off. But I must also confess that on some of the most important issues facing us I agree with him. Today, for example, on Anti-War.com, he has an article suggesting that we should abandon our empire. I agree with him entirely on this issue. It is absurd that we should have somewhere between 760 and 1000 bases spread out over some 148 countries and a defense/military/pentagon budget that is at least one trillion dollars a year. Think how quickly we could eliminate our debt, rebuild our infrastructure, provide health care and education for all, if we did not continue to bear this unnecessary burden. As Buchanan says, why should we be borrowing money from other countries to protect other countries? An excellent question, which raises another one in my mind, what on earth are we protecting them from? Presumably, when all this began, we were supposedly protecting them from communism (Russia). That was in the days when Russia was rivaling us as a superpower and we were so paranoid about communism taking over the world we started trying to build and secure what is now nothing less than a kind of semi-secret empire. It is well past time for this nonsensical empire to be disbanded and for us to admit we can no longer afford it and do not, in fact, need it. But what American President would be strong enough to try to change this unfortunate situation. Remember Churchill gave up power rather than “preside over the break-up of the British Empire,” and I feel somehow that is the way all of our Presidents will feel about abandoning our “empire.” Perhaps fiscal reality will eventually overcome this resistance and the empire will crumble anyway.

Of course one of the reasons I imagine will keep us trying to maintain our empire, and more importantly, our related military/industrial/political complex, has to do with the serious matter of unemployment. What, for example, would we do with the hundreds of thousands of military and support personnel? If we were to just throw them on the market, what with our 10% (actually greater) unemployment situation it would certainly make matters much worse. This raises again the question of “peak employment” I raised previously. That is, there just are not enough jobs to provide a job for everyone, and thus we have this problem of surplus populations. But why do we have surplus populations? I suppose one could argue there are just too many people, we are overpopulated, and therefore there cannot be enough jobs. I don’t believe this is the root cause of the problem. The real problem, I think, has to do with a combination of technological growth and ideology, at least in the United States. Our economy, along with our political system and most other of our institutions, is based upon the idea of a capitalistic society operating a (supposedly) free-market economy. Basically this means that our economy operates to generate profits. Profit is the goal. But what if we had a society in which the goal was full employment rather than simply profit? What if businesses and corporations were awarded for providing (decent) jobs rather than making a profit? Could there then be enough decent jobs for everyone? Probably not, because with our modern technology, human labor (energy) is not so vitally required to manufacture our products and grow our food as it used to be. In order for human energy to be put back into the equation we would have to give up our worship of efficiency and the economics of scale. Technology would have to be geared towards taking advantage of human energy once again. This would, of course, be difficult, and I have no doubt there would great resistance against the idea of having to sacrifice technological sophistication for jobs. But if the goal of society was to provide jobs rather than simply generate profits, would that not be a good thing? This reminds me of quite a few years back when a couple of people argued that the amount of energy expanded by a society was a measure of “civilization” (or “progress,” I guess). That is, the more energy consumed, the greater the sophistication and progress of a culture. I thought at the time this was rather a foolish belief and I suggested that perhaps cultures should more properly be ranked according to how much they could produce with the least amount of energy. Needless to say, this was not regarded as a serious approach to being “civilized.” I guess we might say the problem has to do with what to do with human energy, of which there seems to be a genuine surplus. The energy expended by humans used to be used for productive purposes: hunting and gathering, plowing and harvesting, processing plants and animals, gathering firewood and making clothes, and so on and on. Now all that energy is disbursed by using treadmills, jogging, weightlifting, sports, and such. I wonder sometimes how many treadmills are going at this moment, and how might all that energy be put to more useful and productive tasks? But those days are gone forever, along with the jobs.

The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment and the quick fix. The earthly rhythms that characterize a more pastoral way of life have been shunted aside to make room for the fast track of an urbanized existence. Lost in a sea of perpetual technological transition, modern man and woman find themselves increasingly alienated from the ecological choreography of the planet.
Jeremy Rifkin

The controlled use of fire probably began somewhere around 400,000 years ago (I think).


Bubblehead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bubblehead said...

As a general rule, if one finds oneself agreeing with Pat Buchanan on anything, one should critically re-evaluate that belief.