Eric Harrington – The Credit Bailout – The last great mistake…
The big story: Our government wants the tax payers of the United States to bail out the financial market, primarily of the bad mortgages, to the tune of 700 Billion Dollars. Now I know that these kinds of numbers get to be rather vague when they are so huge. I mean, when you consider that the U.S has spent over a trillion (some estimates say it’s really 3 trillion) dollars on Iraq, well I guess 700 more billion to save the economy isn’t that bad. That’s roughly $2300 for every man, woman and child in the US. And maybe it isn’t that bad if compared with the value we have received from the Iraq war. HIGHER gas prices instead of lower (what little oil production that did occur in Iraq under the sanctions is all but gone now), the Russians rattling their sabers again, and terrorism increased ten fold.
But it is an altogether different story when one considers what can be bought for $700 BILLION dollars. Now I am not going to get into all of the emotional, heartstring pulling stuff like how many mouths it could feed in Africa, or how many condoms it would buy. No I will stick with what we Americans consider to be really important – US.
Now when I discuss the Iraq war with most Americans, if they are not resolutely against the war, upon extensive inquiry, after all the “promoting democracy” and “stemming the terrorist threat” are exhausted, what it really comes down to is the oil. We are willing to PAY BIG to protect out access to the oil because even we, the peons, understand how important Texas Tea is to our lifestyles. But let’s take a closer look at something else that money could buy and that could do a lot of things oil can do—namely, renewable energy infrastructure. I know a lot of politicians have talked in very general terms about “investing in Renewable Energy” but let’s get down to the devil in those details…
The United States as of 2006 had generating capacity of roughly 1 trillion watts excluding existing renewable sources. The cost of implementing solar power in mega-watt size systems is currently around $4.00 per watt and will go down dramatically with massive investment. Wind power is even less costly, but let’s work with the more expensive of the two most practical sources of renewable energy. So to completely convert the ENTIRE US electrical generation to renewable sources right now — which would consume no fuel, create no CO2 (see global warming), have less maintenance than Carbon fueled plants, and would be completely sustainable and domestically sourced — to completely change over the ENTIRE US generation system would cost roughly $4 Trillion dollars, or 6 times the stated bailout, (or twice the hidden amount) and maybe roughly what we have spent for IRAQ ALREADY! Now if that doesn’t make you sick, you’re a fool or in a coma.
Yes, that’s roughly $12,000.00 from every American citizen ( the cost of a new Hyundai, alright..less than a new Hyundai). Keep in mind, we don’t have to come up with the whole 4 trillion. Around $2 Trillion in government subsidies and investment (or $6,000.00 per person) would trigger a HUGE winfall of private investment and would easily get a true free market conversion done. Green technology is the new bubble and all the savvy investors know it.. So what do we get for all this money? Millions of new jobs HERE in the US; dramatic decreases in electrical costs and increased price stability since energy is no longer tied to volatile hydrocarbon fuels; cleaner air and water, and no more oil wars.. And wouldn’t this boon to the American infrastructure be a boon to American businesses? No more rising energy costs. No more stock markets chained to volatile oil prices.
So when we leave Iraq, you know who will march in and take over the Middle East? CHINA, and if you ask me, let them inherit that hornets nest! Is it fair to the Middle East? No, but that’s what will happen and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. Let the Saudi’s with all their trillions pay someone to defend them. We need to get out of the imperialism business to save OUR country..
“What about gasoline” you ask? “That’s really where our oil demand stems from, not generating electricity. In fact, oil runs only about 1% of our generating plants..” (Wow, I didn’t realize you were so well informed!) Well since you asked. All the US has to do to completely eliminate our dependence on foreign oil is increase minimum automobile gas mileage to around 40mpg! Can you really get your head around the fact that all this carnage and debt from Iraq is just because we are not willing to drive a car that gets 40MPG? Don’t believe me? LOOK IT UP! (I’m not going to do all your work for you). And if we stop trying to take down Hugo Chavez, there is more than plenty of Oil in Venezuela to handle our needs long term. But really, we have a LOT of oil still being produced in the US and Canada..
In addition to better efficiency, with a new renewable mega-electric infrastructure (remember we would still probably keep much of the clean Natural Gas fired plants on line for growing demand, at least for a while) we can easily and inexpensively change over to fully electric cars, and rechargeable hybrids for longer trips. Over 50% of American travel under 40 miles per day roundtrip, which is the rough practical range limit of pure electric cars today. So 50% of our travel could be handled by electricity alone, no problem, with no change of lifestyle, and with the on-going improvements to batteries, that range should increase dramatically in the near future. Except of course we will have to drive smaller cars. It’s a big sacrifice I know…
I know what your going to say now.. “what’s the point each of us of spending $6,000.00 (roughly the amount one spends for a community college education for a year ) just to get us off hydrocarbon energy sources that don’t actually come from the middle east? What’s the point?”
That is a very good question, but you only have to read the amazing book Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble by Lester Brown to get the answer like the wet slap of a cold fist. GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL. Now that being said, for all you Global Warming deniers, your right! Global Warming has not been proven to be exclusively the product of CO2 production, and that is certainly contrary to increasingly popular opinion. But I will stand my ground on that one. It could well be predominantly due to an increased solar cycle we have absolutely no control of. But make no mistake, CO2 DOES have a significant heating effect globally, where only a couple degress on average has huge effcts, so it is contributing significantly to the problem, and it is the ONLY mechanism involved in Global Warming we have ANY control over. So we still have to cut CO2 production dramatically regardless, and immediately.
“So,” you ask, “is Global Warming really a serious problem? So it just gets a little hotter, right? A few polar bears die, no big deal.” Well, again, if we turn to Mr. Browns best sller “Plan B”; we find that at our current rate of warming, the water supplies of Asia, fed by the dwindling glaciers of the Himalayas could be all but gone in 20 years or less. That means that all the primary rivers of Asia could DRY UP completely in the summer. That means no water for food production, not to mention drinking. In fact, huge numbers of people throughout Asia are already surviving off of tapping underground aquifers thousands of feet beneath the ground that will never replenish. What does this mean to the world? Potentially millions if not hundreds of millions of people will starve and die from lack of water in less than 2 decades. The only solution? Distillation of sea water, and that takes BIG energy. So I can assure you, as things get tough, the populations of Asia will be willing to take military action to secure enough oil to save their lives.
So, if we do the right thing now– if we spend the 2-3 trillion dollars and set an example for the entire world that it can be done, i.e. that we can become completely sustainable — we will be at least somewhat insulated. We will have electricity for air-conditioning in the increasingly hot weather, and for desalination of water for areas with shortages, and for food production, and travel, and all without wars to secure oil. We will slow the warming substantially, or at least do our part to set the right example, and we will survive without a catastrophic economic collapse, but ONLY IF WE MOVE NOW and spend our money wisely.
Oil prices will never go down significantly long term, only up. Our oil addicted, debt ridden economy will shrivel and die when it has to compete with the blossoming Chinese industrial machine for the dwindling oil reserves. We have be SMARTER. And they will not continue to fund our slide by buying our bonds. They do it now only because we are their primary market and our collapse would devastate them as well. But the Chinese are aggressively and successfully seeking out new markets in South America and Europe, and VERY soon, they will cut the umbilical cord and our economy will suffer greatly. But RIGHT NOW, we can use a lot of THEIR money to do this, because they still need us for a while.
Our time has run out. Ironically, the current economic stall could be seen as a blessing because it is forcing us to consider BIG commitments, BIG costs, for BIG problems. But we cannot let the tragic housing fiasco, (which, I might add, could have been easily avoided through responsible government, in fact Allen Greenspan could have singlehandedly slowed the bubble and avoided the meltdown with just a few points in interest rate adjustments, but he did not because the Republicans NEEDED this bubble to cover the travesty of Iraq. So don’t let anyone tell you they couldn’t see it coming! That is complete bullshit! We can’t let this fiasco force us into another bailout of the disfucntional Wall Street. Let them fail! Let the market flounder for a while. It will be short term, and it will rebound immediately when such an ambitious infrastructure plan is launched. People will get excited that we are doing something that will change all our lives for the better, forever, and it will set a shining example for the rest of the world. It CAN BE DONE. We are out of time AND money, this has to be done immediately. If you do not believe me, read Lester Browns book and then tell me so with a straight face.
And don’t let people tell you we can’t survive without bailing out the market. At the start of WW2 virtually all industry in America shifted to producing war goods. Some we sold, many we used, but our country didn’t collapse, it blossomed. In fact, the ultimate irony of the silly Conservative fantasy world is this idea that the 50’s were the ideal time in American History. A man working a middle class job could sustain a family of 4 and buy a house, no problem. Idyllic indeed. But the irony of this, (I still cannot help but laugh when I think about it) the poetic irony, is that it was the SOCIALISM (verging on Communism) enacted during WW2 (all company profits were limited by law, EVERYONE was effectively employed working for the government) that created the prosperity of the 50’s!!!!! God I couldn’t write it better! So WE CAN DO THIS, DON”T BUY THE PROPAGANDA!!!
Call your senator! Call your congressman! Tell them NO to the bail out and YES to Plan B!!!! YES to a new renewable infrastructure. YES to a future! Do it now, while there is still time.. I’m not fucking kidding!