Monday, February 9, 2009

Your Tax Dollars At Work Creating Jobs in Brazil: GM Invests $1 Billion in Brazil

US Taxpayers are creating auto jobs in Brazil as General Motors to Invest $1 Billion in Brazil Operati......

General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker.

According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to "complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012."

"It wouldn't be logical to withdraw the investment from where we're growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets," he said in a statement published by the business daily Gazeta Mercantil.

Told you so.

Is anyone really surprised that one of our major corporate welfare recipients is going to use their handout from the TARP program, not to create and maintain jobs here in this country, but to bolster investments in markets they feel they can get a better return?

Does anybody think that Obama's stimulus program is going to do more to create jobs and stimulate the economy than TARP or any of the other trillion-dollar interventions of the past two years?

When Obama's stimulus package fails, what will we do? Promulgate a bigger one? And how many more trillion-dollar interventions can we front without buckling under the load of public debt? What will this do to our currency?

Does anyone outside the Beltway really believe that we can keep adding to the public debt a trillion dollars at a whack without the treasury eventually collapsing when we reach the point where we can no longer service the public debt from shrinking tax revenues?

And when that happens, when the U.S. ends up like Argentina in the 70s and 80s, or like Weimer Germany, who is going to bail us out?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2009 Sweetheart of Edgewater Party

2009 Sweetheart of Edgewater Party

Tuesday, Feb. 17th
5:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.

Ole St. Andrew's Inn
5938 N. Broadway

Join us for a fun evening of hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and the presentation of the 2009 "Sweetheart of Edgewater" Award. The evening will also feature a networking game, so be sure to bring a nice handful of business cards.

RSVP & Tickets
RSVP to the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce at 773-561-6000 or info@edgewater.org. Admission is $25 and can be paid by check or cash in advance or at the door. You can also purchase tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/55505.

Presented by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Bartlett Presentation on Peak Oil: Peak Oil and The Threat to Technological Civilization Made Explicable

In March of 2005, Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland delivered a presentation to the U.S. Congress outlining the risks, costs, and mitigation of the effects of Peak Oil, or the imminent peaking of global oil production, and what it means for our economy, our standard of living, and our ability to continue to live with a reasonable degree of technological amenity. Many people out here don't really grasp just how costly and destructive to daily life the drop off the peak could be, and will be if we don't take steps to mitigate the effects of the decline. I like Mr. Bartlett's presentation because he explains it in easy-to-understand terms, so I'm printing his presentation in its entirety below.

Mr. Bartlett speaks:

Peak Oil Presentation in the US Congress

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Credo For Our Time:Credo in $ at ClubOrlov

The most recent post at one of my fave blogs, Dimitri Orlov's Club Orlov was just too perfectly on target. Thank you, Mr. Orlov, for publishing "Frank's" Credo, copied here:

CREDO IN $ by "Frank"
Today's guest post is by Frank, who uncovers what must be the deeply held beliefs of those who still have hope that the status quo can be maintained. (We're just going through a rough patch, right, people?) Axiomatically, to have hope, you must have faith. (And if your hope turns out to be false, there is always charity.) Hast thou yet hope, O {username}? If so, please genuflect, direct your gaze heavenward, and repeat after Brother Frank:

I believe in worldwide Ponzi schemes and universal gullibility. I believe that reckless lending can be cured by reckless borrowing and that fraudulent borrowing can be healed by fraudulent lending. I believe that a housing bubble fueled by loose credit can be corrected by easing credit. I believe that each trillion of hallucinated dollars that disappears in a puff of Wall Street smoke then always reappears magically from behind a Treasury Department mirror.

I believe in America's almighty financial geniuses and monetary officials, who destroy wealth indiscriminately and indefinitely, and whose kingdom shall have no end. It is divine justice that those who cause financial catastrophes are rewarded with public money, while innocent bystanders are punished in their stead. I believe that central banks can print all the money anyone will ever need. I believe that if one stimulus package does not work, the next one surely will.

I believe in the redeeming power of financial complexity. I believe that hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds are righteous to enter into incomprehensible contracts having convoluted ownership and no inherent value. And I believe that opaque, secretive companies which pretend to insure those investments are offering a valuable service, even if this requires the use of public money.

I believe that economic stability and confidence will return when every failing business is bailed out, with no failure too small to be left behind. I believe that all dying institutions shall be consolidated, merging the smaller basket cases with the larger ones. The lion and the lamb shall lie down together in a new spirit of national competitiveness.

I believe that the end of days shall come when there is only one institution left, comprehensively unified, far too big to fail, owning everything and controlling nothing. All shall come and supplicate before its holy ATM machines, for they are subtle and quick to anger. It is in this one true financial institution that I put my faith, truly gigantic, truly bankrupt, amen.

Peak Oil Information and Bibliography

A number of people, in response to comments I've made here and on other people's blogs alluding to our permanent fossil fuel crisis and the necessity to drastically reorder our priorities and life arrangements in response to it, have requested that I provide sources of information. I'm really sorry that I did not do this before, and below are only a few of books, papers, and websites with relevant information:


Campbell, C. J. The Coming Oil Crisis. 1997, 210 pages (oversized book)
----- Oil Crisis. Sept 2005, 456 pages, Multi-Science Publishing

Deffeyes, Kenneth S. Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert’s Peak. 2005
----- Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage. 2001

Goodstein, David. Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil. 2004

Heinberg, Richard. The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies. 2002
----- Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World. 2004

Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency. 2005

Cooke, Ronald. Oil, Jihad, and Destiny. 2005

Klare, Michael. Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Petroleum Dependence. 2004
----- Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Landscape. 2002

Leeb, Stephen and Donna. The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself and Profit from the Coming Energy Crisis. 2004

McKillop, Andrew. Final Energy Crisis. 2004

McQuaig, Linda. It’s the Crude, Dude. 2004

Roberts, Paul, The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. 2004

Ruppert, Michael. Crossing the Rubicon: September 11 and the Decline of American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. 2004

Shah, Sonia. Crude: The Story of Oil. 2004

Darley, Julian. High Noon for Natural Gas. 2004

Huber, Peter and Mark Mills. The Bottomless Well: The Twlight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy. 2005

Simmons, Matthew R. Twlight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. 2005

Yeomans, Matthew. Oil: Anatomy of an Industry. 2004

Clark, William R. Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq, and the Future of the Dollar. 2005

Gold, Thomas. The Origin of Methane (and Oil) in the Crust of the Earth. 1993.
(Gold argues that oil is not a fossil fuel. For rebuttals, see Jean Laherrere, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, and Ugo Bardi below.)

Web Sites


Internet Essays

(The following two essays support the Thomas Gold hypothesis, that oil is not a fossil fuel derived from organic matter, but is an abiotic substance generated in the crust of the earth.)

Brown, Thomas J., The End of Fossel Fuels

McGowan, Dave, Beware the ‘Peak Oil’ Agenda

(For a rebuttal of the Gold hypothesis, see the following:)

Bardi, Ugo, Abiotic Oil: Science or Politics?

Laherrere, Jean, No Free Lunch, Part 1: A Critique of Thomas Gold’s Claims for Abiotic Oil

Pfeiffer, Dale Allen, No Free Lunch, Part 2: If Abiotic Oil Exists, Where Is It?

(Other relevant essays, editorials, and news reports)

Caffentzis, George, Peak Oil and National Security: A Critique of Energy Alternatives
----- The Struggle for the Petroleum Commons: Local, Islamic, and Global

Klare, Michael T., More Blood, Less Oil: The Failed U.S. Mission to Capture Iraqi Petroleum
----- Oil Wars: Transforminhg the American military into a Global Oil-Protection Service
---- Mapping the Oil Motive
----- The Intensifying Global Struggle for Energy

Pocha, Jehangir, The Axis of Oil

Pitt, William Rivers, The Prophecy of Oil

Bryce, Robert, Running on Empty

Gowans, Stephen, US-UK Interventionism. The Hidden Agenda is Oil: Sudan: Round Gazillion

DeWit, Andrew, Peak Oil and Japan’s Food Dependence

Cavalto, Alfred J., Oil: Caveat Empty

Crensen, Matt, Experts: Petroleum May Be Nearing Peak

Mieszkowski, Katharine, After the Oil is Gone

Heinberg, Richard, Threats of Peak Oil to the Global Food Supply

Pfeiffer, Dale Allen, Peak Oil and the Working Class

Lundberg, Jan, Termination of the Fossil-Fuels Society

The foregoing list is supplied by James Herod (title link on this blog post). I especially recommend The Long Emergency, by James Howard Kunstler; Twilight in the Desert:The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, by oil analyst Matthew Simmons; and anything by oil geologists Colin Campbell and Kenneth Deffeyes. Kunstler is very accessible, witty, and acerbic, and Simmons lays out a very detailed and chilling picture of the steep decline and eminent depletion of the world's largest, and one its few, "elephant" oil fields, on which we are dependent for a major portion of our oil supplies in this country.

Other favorite sources of mine are:

Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, by M. King Hubbert, 1956. This is the famous 1956 report in which Shell Oil geologist M.King Hubbert correctly predicted the peaking of domestic oil production in 1970, and the peaking of global oil discoveries in 1964. He predicted the peaking of global production between year 2000 and 2010.

Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, by Robert Hirsch, SAIC, Project Leader. The famous Hirsch Report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.

World Oil Magazine

Peak Oil Presentation in the U.S. Congress
, April 27, 2005, by Roscoe Bartlett, Rep. MD

American Theocracy:The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips.This is a beautifully written book that explores the relationship between our dependence on oil, specifically foreign oil, conservative politics, and religion in this country, and the dire political implications of oil depletion and our promotion of a way of life very dependent upon copious and ever-increasing quantities of the substance in a context where it may no longer be available. An absolute must -read, and a great pleasure to read because of the elegant, cogent writing.

Websites: I have linked to numerous sites discussing Peak Oil and energy issues on this blog. On my link list, to the right, are links to The Association for the Study of Peak Oil; The Energy Bulletin; Peak Energy; James Howard Kunstler's site; Kenneth Defeyye's site, Hubbert's Peak; Global Public Media The Oil Drum; Club Orlov; and The Archdruid Report.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Moral Hazard: Our Responsibility Crisis

When I read of the unwed 33-year-old California welfare recipient who just gave birth to a litter of eight children,in addition to the six she already had, I thought many unkind thoughts. Absolutely vile thoughts, really; the first sentence out of my mouth in reaction was really, really nasty: somebody shoot that damn woman. Now, that is a really vicious thing to think, and I would never actually do a thing like that. But I don't for one minute apologize for the sentiment that inspired it and I was somehow not surprised to learn that this same woman had bankrupted out of $1 million in house debt.

So far, this lady is into the taxpayers of not only California, but the whole country, for about $4 million, including the house debt and the estimated $4 million her delivery, which entailed a team of 46 medical professionals, and the ongoing care of the seriously underweight infants of about $400,000 each.

To most people, welfare recipients who breed like rats and the medical practitioners who supply them with the means to give birth to a litter of 8 kids at once; and the trillions of dollars of house loans and derivatives based on them that will never be repaid, or, for that matter, the ongoing problems with crime in our neighborhood, are separate issues.. Most people don't see a connection between the irresponsibility of the folks who spend their lives living and breeding incontinently on the back of our welfare system; the reckless foolishness of the millions of middle-class folk who borrowed against their houses to 5X their income, and, in spite of spending up to six, or even eight years warming seats on college campuses, can't figure out that $798 a month doesn't pay down a $700,000 mortgage or that you should actually read and understand a contract before you sign it and are responsible for what you sign; or the flaming criminality and malfeasance of our policy makers and financial executives who built the towers of leverage 100 stories high,of unrepayable loans and instruments based on them knowing full well, quite early on, that the entire structure was tricked to collapse, for they felt safe in the knowledge that the taxpayers would be the guarantors of the last resort and step in to assure their multi-million dollar bonuses and prop up their tottering institutions.

What we have managed to do in this country in the past 65 years is create a massive moral hazard, a system that encourages and rewards stupidity, irresponsibility, extravagance, and criminality, while punishing prudence, restraint, and hard work. If you are one of the millions of people who waited out the housing bubble so that prices would back off to put a decent place within the range of an honest mortgage you could actually afford, you are rewarded for your prudence by watching your neighbor walk free and clear after borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars against her house to buy $80,000 cars, and live-rent free for months in the expensive place she could never afford to begin with, while she goes delinquent on her loan and begs the government for assistance staying in her home. And if you are a single mom or family of modest means struggling to stay afloat on a stagnating salary while wondering when your head will go on the block at your company and wondering where you're going to find the money to take your kids to the dentist, you have to help pay the $3 million in medical bills that a multiple birth of seven or eight infants now costs, by a woman who can't even support herself and has never worked in her life, or for the in vitro fertilization of a 55-year old unemployed homeless woman. And we all are paying for the massive bonuses and 40-room houses of financial maniacs and criminals while we lose our jobs, or take reduced hours and pay, or watch our own small businesses spiral down into failure as this bubble-induced recession deepens into depression,with little hope of bettering ourselves and the real likelihood that the day we have to default on our own debts will come soon, because we've been rendered stone broke supporting the recklessness and criminality of the 5% of the population that incurs the costs that nobody can pay.

We need badly to restore accountability, and knowledge of causality,or the connection between what you do and the consequences you bear, to a large portion of the population of this country. This is not a class or race issue, either, for the childishness, whimsicality,wish-based reasoning; and refusal to accept responsibility and sense of entitlement to unearned benefits to be paid for by someone else who will receive no rewards, runs from the top of our society clear to the bottom. Maybe we've just had it too easy here for the past 65 years, but now our incredible luck is running out, because we're now stone bankrupt, over-populated, and in resource depletion. We can no longer afford people like the California mother of 14, or Casey Serin, or Hank Paulson and his buddies on Wall Street, or the millions of other people out here, of every degree, who think that the rest of us exist to walk behind them mopping up their messes while our own incomes and lives deteriorate, our jobs vanish and our businesses fail, and our costs escalate.