Monday, June 6, 2005

Clusterfuck Nation by James Howard Kunstler

Clusterfuck Nation by James Howard Kunstler: "The Times's star columnist Thomas Friedman is making hay this season with his new book, The World is Flat, about the global economy. His book asserts that current trends will continue indefinitely -- China will continue to manufacture ever more of America's household products, Americans will continue to enjoy cash-out home equity loans to buy plastic patio chairs made in China, WalMart will keep running its warehouse-on-wheels at a thumping great profit, and all impediments to global trade will be vanquished by telemarketing, computer technology, and confident corporate can-do spirits. I am tempted to ask how Friedman manages to type on a laptop with his head so far up his ass, but this blog is dedicated, above all, to a high-minded brand of politeness so we'll just say that he is not paying attention to a gathering global energy shitstorm that is going to change absolutely everything -- including global economic relations which pundits foolishly maintain to be permanent conditions of life."

Kunstler is a true believer in the Coming Storm -- but his apocalypse is an energy-driven one of truly global proportions, and not the local political meltdown of the Republican right-wing, which I am fond of hoping for. Still, he has style. ;-)

Just for the record, I do think the energy situation is a critical, global problem, and, of course, I do not expect Bush-Cheney, who are, after all, two oil company executives, to address it in anything like a sensible manner. However, I am also an economist, who knows that there is a lot of slack and waste in our energy use, and huge reservoirs of marginally more expensive fuel available. I am with Stirling Newbery, in thinking that the developed world will have to make a technological switch, which will affect politics deeply, just as the original switch to fossil fuel in the industrial revolution, circa 1830, did. But, still I would not expect much of anything to happen, which would be suitable fodder for a summer blockbuster movie. Then, again, maybe India and China will ally against the U.S. in World War III, or IV or V. You never know.

(But, Kunstler is right about one thing: Friedman does write his column with his head (ahem) somewhere unsuitable, and a neat trick it is.)

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