A big dose of economic gloom, and more

February 1, 2008 | By | Reply More

Here’s the bad news, from TomDispatch.com:

The latest economic news is striking. The U.S. economy has come to a “virtual standstill.” The bubble has burst and, with anxious global markets registering the shock, other bubble economies worldwide continue to shudder at the possibility that American consumers might be forced to rein in their decade-long buying spree of imported goods. Though any reader of newspaper business pages has surely noticed that oil news, oil deals, and oil prices have been front and center, the role of oil in our new economic moment has been underemphasized of late. It’s hard even to remember — now that the price of a barrel of crude oil has hit the $100 mark and still hovers around $91 — that, in the week after September 11, 2001, oil was still under $20 a barrel. Think of this as another modest accomplishment of the Bush administration . . .

The post goes on to quote Michael T. Klare, author of an upcoming book, Something Had to Give How Oil Burst the American Bubble.  Here’s Klare’s main point:

Oil, in fact, has played a critical, if little commented upon, role in America’s current economic enfeeblement — and it will continue to drain the economy of wealth and vigor for years to come.

Everything Klare writes (I recommend reading the entire excerpt) points to massive changes ahead for Americans, many of them painful.   I can’t think of any reasons for refuting any of Klare’s facts or conclusions.   As I read this excerpt from Klare’s book, I repeatedly had the thought that America has been squadoring its future for the past several decades.   We have become largely an amoral, short-sighted and self-destructive country.  Yes, there are numerous exceptional, admirable and heroic individuals living here, many of them sensitive and intelligent, but our country as a whole has little to offer the rest of the world other than being a market for their goods (we’ll see how much longer that will last). 

We have become militarily dangerous.  We excel at being huge polluters and not giving a shit about anyone else in the world other than our (short-term) selves.  We have become absolutely unable to have honest conversations about the many threatening issues facing our country, even though many of them have solutions, at least for people who are willing to work for the long-term.  These solutions that do exist are invisible to us because we are a huge dysfunctional family.  Our presidential candidates are afraid to level with us–they tell us what we want to hear, leaving us to read between their lines for what we need to hear.  And we are energized by what Nietzsche termed resentiment:

Ressentiment is a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of one’s own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat. The ego creates the illusion of an enemy, a cause that can be “blamed” for one’s own inferiority/failure. Thus, one was thwarted not by a failure in oneself, but rather by an external “evil”. This issuing of “blame” leads one to desire revenge, or at least believe in the possibility of revenge; this lust for revenge may take many forms, as in the Christian conception of the Last Judgment, or the socialist conception of revolution. In each case, a sense of powerlessness creates the illusion of an enemy; one suddenly conceives oneself to be oppressed rather than merely weak, a phenomenon that spawns externally-directed bitterness (lust for a perceived “revenge”).

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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