Monday, March 9, 2009

No Time for Timid Economics

This is a transitional moment. We must acknowledge that we have migrated from a world of abundance to one of scarcity.
Despite recent propaganda, this is not the 1930's, with vast unexploited natural resources and a small global population.
Natural resources are vigorously contested to the extent of war.

We must retool our economy and our lives away from disposables and rampant consumption. We must accept the true cost of energy and shift toward renewables. We need a vision that builds sustainability into our new infrastructure.

At the same time, we must insure that in reversing our incredibly inequitable distribution of wealth, the poor, young, elderly or otherwise socially disadvantaged do not pay for leveling the field.

Hedged by arrogance and self esteem, people of unimaginable wealth stand apart from the present loss of confidence and imagine that it is only a matter of time until matters are back on course.
But many have sustained painful losses and have lost faith in the old methods. People are ready for real change, a more meaningful life with emphasis on the essentials of justice and peace.


Sourdough said...

Transitional moment, indeed, Michael. You really struck a sonorous chord for me on this one!

"Natural resources are vigorously contested to the extent of war." As a kid, I was just of the right mindset to become really "into" the IGY of 1957 and it's emphasis on Antarctica. Followed events there vicariously ever since. I am just finishing "Beyond Cape Horn" by John Neider, ca. 1980. Talks on the fringes of dividing the Continent between nations, probings for resource development, but just scratched the surface.

Intersteringly for us here, Neider spent several days travelling on the R/V Hero, which is a fine wooden boat now almost in derelict status in none other than Newport.

Now, fast-forward to the 1989 Exxon Valdez "incident", which was in fact the largest man-caused environmental disaster in the history of North America. I was highly placed in the State of Alaska's response, dealing w/Exxon VP's, various USCG Admirals, scientists from all over the globe, etc.

In the course of my duties for the Governor in the field I had the pleasure of providing logistics and transport in "the field" (shit, 800 miles of Coastline) to journalists and documentarians in order to tell Alaska's side of the "Spill", vs. Exxon's paid-for media blitz and sound bytes. It was of no help, of course, that then-president GHW Bush never showed up for an inspecton tour. I had to meet with "Little Danny Quayle", instead.

Sorry, I digressed. Among the many journalists I supported was one Axel Engstfeldt, a Dutchman/Austrian who was doing a documentary. I helped him lots with free flights from aircraft/helos at my disposal and my contacts with remote village chiefs and fisherman's groups. He did a nice documentary.

But, the next year, he contacted me and said he and his 4-person crew wanted to return for some follow-up interviews, village lifestyle footage, etc. and asked if I could help.

I said yes, because the Spill cost me my marriage and all my money and I was done with my service to the Governor the Spring of 1990. Broke.

So Axel hired me as a stringer and we worked and had a bit of fun for 6 weeks as he had a generous grant from an NGO in Europe. He produced a fine documentary (of course, it could have gone more in-depth) and I treasure a copy on VHS that I have.

But, prior to the Exxon Project, he had just completed produce a 2-year documentary on the politics of dividing up the whole friggin Continent of Antarctica and its resources. In cold war times, and in England vs. Argentina Falkland Island times. This documentary bogs down considerably with the incredible wranglings of the U.N. and the "claiming" countries as the new international codices were being developed upon the expiration of the original 10-year treaty. Ashamed to admit, I have not followed South Polar developments since. Shame on me.

I also have a copy of this VHS.


hell, I didn't even get to the distribution of wealth part!

doryman said...

Yes indeed, Sourdough!

A post script to your story, of course is that Exxon has stalled payment of it's fines from the Valdez disaster to this day.

And speaking of cold war politics, the Arctic is a hot spot today for the potential new trade routes opening up as a result of ice pack retreat.
Counties as benign as Canada are developing ports with a military presence to protect their economic interests on the Arctic fringe of the continent. This will of course bring North America into territorial conflict with Russia, real and perceived.

The politics of big government costs me huge, even when I have absolutely no personal/ political interest what-so-ever. New trade routes from Asia to Europe will of course impact my life to some degree, but to the extent of military machinations? I think not.
Just as I have no quarrel with the people of Iraq today, but will pay the price for my government's intervention for what's left of my old age. But now I am the one who digresses!.....