Money rules….

28 07 2014

Over the past 15 or 20 years, society switched from being a society to being an economy.  Today, everything has a price, and nobody does anything anymore unless there’s “money in it”.  Take Universities; fifty years ago, one could go to University, for free, and just learn….  that’s what Universities were always for.  To learn.  Today Universities are all about money, and learning how to make money.  I clearly remember our son, who at the time was doing his first science degree, coming home from University one night, scathing of the number of people studying ‘business studies’ or economics or any number of other money making pursuits on offer at these institutions.

Alex now has two science degrees and a Master….. and can’t get work.  It was, admittedly, bad timing on his part, Australia has elected an anti-science government that only believes in making money and measuring everything society, oops I mean the economy, does in dollar terms.  An economy does not need scientists, it needs bean counters….  so funding for Australia’s premiere scientific organisation, CSIRO, is being defunded, and is now starting to sack scientists.  Just when we need them most.

Putting a price on everything was brought home succinctly the other day by George Monbiot who wrote:

So just at this moment, this perfect moment of the total moral and ideological collapse of the neoliberal capitalist system, some environmentalists stumble across it and say, “This is the answer to saving the natural world.” And they devise a series of ideas and theories and mechanisms which are supposed to do what we’ve been unable to do by other means: to protect the world from the despoilation and degradation which have done it so much harm.

I’m talking about the development of what could be called the Natural Capital Agenda: the pricing, valuation, monetisation, financialisation of nature in the name of saving it.

Sorry, did I say nature? We don’t call it that any more. It is now called natural capital. Ecological processes are called ecosystem services because, of course, they exist only to serve us. Hills, forests, rivers: these are terribly out-dated terms. They are now called green infrastructure. Biodiversity and habitats? Not at all à la mode my dear. We now call them asset classes in an ecosystems market. I am not making any of this up. These are the names we now give to the natural world.

How much longer this sad state of affairs can continue, no one knows, except that it can’t possibly last much longer.  Here is the latest shock from Bloomberg….:

For the past two decades, growth in the global economy spelled higher revenues for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Not any more.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows how last year was the first since 1993 that the value of OPEC’s total crude exports didn’t track the direction of global gross domestic product. The bottom panel shows how the group supplying about 40 percent of the world’s oil fetched lower average prices and also shipped fewer barrels year on year.

So there you have it……  the beginning of the end of the ‘bumpy plateau’ that shapes Peak Oil is about to end, and the beginning of the inexorable backside of Hubbert’s Curve is at hand.  This is as good as it gets, and all the things we value in dollars will soon be worthless.

Also of interest, and pertinent to the collapse of the plutocracy, I recently discovered this article….

Written by Nick Hanauer (a Seattle-based entrepreneur – never heard of him before now…), this telling article is a wake up call for his 0.1%er mates of his… He starts off by displaying his credentials as a filthy rich plutocrat – “You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like, for which I was the first nonfamily investor”, writes in the middle “I see pitchforks”, but ends with “If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”

Wow……..  are they actually waking up to themselves?  Notice how he claims to be a 0.1%er, not a 1%er..?!

Gulfstream V – in case you didn’t know!

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.

George Monbiot seems to believe in the pitchforks…..  he ends his piece with “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is no mystery… what do we do instead?  It is the same answer that it has always been. The same answer that it always will be. The one thing we just cannot be bothered to get off our bottoms to do, which is the only thing that works. Mobilisation.”

Never mind the pitchforks…….  bring back the guillotine!




One response

28 07 2014
John Doyle

I have come around to the thought that money [actually fiat currency] is the collapse trigger we should all be aiming for. I have said a lot on Gail Tverberg’s blog “Our Finite World” in relation to it.
I say this because if we manage to keep on wasting resources with this endless commitment to Growth, we’ll end up stripping the planet to such an extent the collapse [which HAS to happen] will doom our species. If we manage to set off collapse through a financial event in the near future we may save some of the furniture. We all realise now we will never run out of oil, but we will run short of supply if we lose the technological know how. A financial collapse won’t automatically trash technology although most corporations will be toast and unemployment will be everywhere.

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