Saturday, December 31, 2005

Peak Oil and Extinction of the Global Economy

The age we live in is like no other before it. We command the planet with almost god-like powers. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, our ability to recover the resources of the world has become more and more efficient. This ability to recover and use the fossil fuels of our world has accelerated both the rate and the scope of industrial expansion. The burning of fossil fuels has been the enabling force that has literally fueled the world as we know it. Oil byproduct materials are an essential part of our culture and infrastructure.

For nearly 50 years now, our civilization has been awash in an ever increasing supply of oil. This seemly unending supply of petroleum, combined with corporate greed has shielded most of our civilization from the reality of finite oil supplies. A large number of the worlds most respected geologists have come to the conclusion that, all the large oil fields have already been discovered. This means that all the large deposits of oil are already in production. There is significant amount of research, which also points to the fact that, we may have already reached the peak of the bell curve for planetary oil production.

As worldwide oil production peaks and we slowly descend down the backside of the supply bell curve, oil prices will reach every increasing heights. As production descends to pre-1930s levels, there will be all kinds of economic and then social repercussions. One could only imagine just the economic disruption that will be associated with this upcoming scenario. Only by beginning now, to develop alternative and renewable energy resources, can we hope to have what has be called a “soft landing” during the upcoming end of the Age of Oil.

The growth the global economic system that seems to be engulfing even the most distant points of the world is fueled by cheap oil. As oil becomes more expensive and shortages begin to occur, the global transportation system will break down. Without an efficient global transportation and distribution system, the global economy will cease to exist.

So the question here is: With the massive shift of production resources, to places in the world that will, at some point, be “too far away”, what should be our strategy for the development of what will evidently have to be regional production and distribution systems?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Civil War in Iraq

In spite of the optimism that seems to be still floating around in much of the print and TV media, Iraq is on an unstoppable slide toward civil war. The historical realities of Iraq and the results of our "Democracy building efforts" have made civil war inevitable.

Iraq: Game Over
Robert Dreyfuss
December 22, 2005

The last hope for peace in Iraq was stomped to death this week. The victory of the Shiite religious coalition in the December 15 election hands power for the next four years to a fanatical band of fundamentalist Shiite parties backed by Iran, above all to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Quietly backed by His Malevolence, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, sustained by a 20,000-strong paramilitary force called the Badr Brigade, and with both overt and covert support from Iran's intelligence service and its Revolutionary Guard corps, SCIRI will create a theocratic bastion state in its southern Iraqi fiefdom and use its power in Baghdad to rule what's left of the Iraqi state by force.
The consequences of SCIRI's victory are manifold. But there is no silver lining, no chance for peace talks among Iraq's factions, no chance for international mediation. There is no centrist force that can bridge the factional or sectarian divides. Next stop: civil war. Read entire article here

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The 4th Amendment: A good place to start

President Bush, in his recent explanation for his authorization of domestic spying, cited his constitutional authority. I don’t know which constitution he is using, but the United States Constitution seems to be pretty clear on this subject. I don’t recall any part of the constitution that grants the executive branch the right to spy on American citizens. Perhaps the president who doesn’t read, should begin reading again and start with following constitutional amendment.

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Haymarket: Remembering those who gave their lives for our 8 hour work day!

In Europe, the Haymarket Square Riot and events that followed it are widely known as a significant moment in the American labor movement. Unfortunately, our sadly lacking education system and current anti-labor bias has our left the vast majority of our citizens clueless to American labor history. So, in case you might be among the clueless:

The Haymarket Martyrs

The story of the Haymarket Martyrs, and their monument in Forest Home Cemetery, begins at a convention of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1884. The Federation (the predecessor to the American Federation of Labor) called for a great movement to win the 8-hour workday, which would climax on May 1, 1886.

The plan was to spend two years urging all American employers to adopt a standard 8-hour day, instead of the 10 to 12, even up to 16-hour days that were prevalent. After May 1 of 1886, all workers not yet on an 8-hour schedule, were to cease work in a nation-wide strike until their employer would meet the demand.

80,000 Marched

Although some employers did meet the deadline, many did not. Accordingly, great demonstrations took place on May 1 all across the country. Chicago's was the biggest with an estimated 80,000 marching on Michigan Avenue, much to the alarm of Chicago's business leaders and newspapers who saw it as foreshadowing "revolution," and demanded a police crackdown. Read More Here

More on American Labor History Here

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran

The planning of military strikes by Israel against Iran’s alleged secret uranium enrichment sites seems to be a significant news item. Read, Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran and see what you think. I would hope that our government would be counseling the Israelis against such a rash act.

Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, and Sarah Baxter, Washington
ISRAEL’S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.
The order came after Israeli intelligence warned the government that Iran was operating enrichment facilities, believed to be small and concealed in civilian locations.
Iran’s stand-off with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over nuclear inspections and aggressive rhetoric from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who said last week that Israel should be moved to Europe, are causing mounting concern.
Read entire article here

Friday, December 09, 2005

Justice: Some Quotes to Remember

"Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice." -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government." -Thomas Jefferson

"It's time for greatness--not for greed. It's a time for idealism--not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action." -Marian Wright Edelman

"Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America." -John L. Lewis

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world." -Jimmy Carter

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Global Economy and The 21st Century Robber Barons

The outsourcing of American jobs and formation of a global economic structure is not a natural evolution of market capitalism. Many a pundit proclaim that this growing global economic system is a manifestation of the efficiency of capitalism and what they call free markets. These same people attempt to convince us that the elimination of the American middle class and the economic destruction of entire communities will, in the long run, be good for our country. The reason or driving force behind both the outsourcing of American jobs and the formation of a global economy is the opportunity for the 21st Century Robber Barons to regain control. At the beginning of the industrial revolution the Robber Barons of the 19th century, had complete control over all the components of production and distribution. Their companies were completely unburdened by unions, environmental laws or safety concerns. They were allowed to pursue the acquisition of wealth with no regard to the consequences of that acquisition. Gradually, the workers in what we know as, the (post-industrial) countries of the world, rose up to form Brotherhoods. One of the first functions of these Brotherhoods was to provide small death benefits to the widows and children of men killed on the job. These Brotherhoods over the years eventually grew into labor unions. It was this union movement that pressured for the enactment of laws to control and regulate the Robber Barons unrestrained pursuit of profits. Universal free education for our nations children was an early union cause. Not only did the workers of the time want their children to benefit and have a right to a basic education, but they also knew that public education in combination with child labor laws would completely remove children from the factory floors. Most of the basic worker protections that we take for granted today are a direct result of these first worker Brotherhoods.

As a result of this natural evolution of workers rights and the enactment of laws to protect the environment, the post-industrial countries of the world no longer provide fertile ground for unrestrained exploitation and profit. The Robber Barons of the 21st Century have redirected their resources to the fertile ground of the many Third World countries of the world that are just beginning their own industrial revolutions. These countries are willing to sacrifice their people, their resources and their environments for what they see as the lavish rewards of unrestrained profit taking. What makes all this possible is the relatively inexpensive shipping systems that have made the efficient movement of merchandise around the globe a daily reality. Without this shipping system, the exploitation of these emerging Third World countries would be just a gleam in a Robber Baron’s eye.

It has been a 100 years since the first workers of the post-industrial countries of world rose up to demand change. It has been 100 years since the Robber Barons have been able to rape and pillage the land and its people without restraint. Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century they move their campaigns to the Third World. They begin again their unfulfilled mission; to exploit the planet’s resources and its people, for the maximum profit possible.

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