Friday, May 26, 2006


The first time I ever saw a Honda Civic was probably back in the mid-nineteen-seventies, after the Yom Kippur war and the Saudi highjacking of the world oil markets. My friends and I expressed puzzled ridicule of the tiny little car, so different from the behemoth Chrysler station wagons that crowded the driveways in our "development."

Ironically, as young teens we were still heavily dependent on our Raleigh and Schwinn ten-speeds, but we saw the lines at the gas stations and the odd/even license-plate number assignment of gas-purchasing privileges.

Our lives were rocked by inflation. Many of us continued to bicycle long after we attained driving age as car affordability was out of reach for many of us in working-class families, some with parents that lost jobs during this time.

The Prudhoe and North Sea oil fields relieved this situation for awhile, but then along came the toppling of the despicable old Shah of Iran and another oil "shock" diverted our economy into the stagflation that was pretty much responsible, along with the hostage crisis, for ending Carter's attempts to bring America around to energy sanity.

What followed was decades of energy insanity, as manifested in distant "asteroid-belt" (as James Kunstler call these) suburban housing developments and the pre-eminent resurgence of the gas-guzzler, the triumphant SUV.

Now we will see a new economic phenomenom which I have modestly dubbed "shrimpflation." Like "stagflation," this is a combination of a stagnating economy suffering also from inflation. But shrimpflation will be much worse, and have effects that may be permanent.

The shrimpflation theory is based on the rather simple fact that all consumers, such as American citizens, compete for limited resources, specifically the world's declining reserves of oil. Our government itself also competes for oil, and we have recently gone to war over this issue, despite protestations that the invasion of Iraq was somehow not a "war for oil."

It is.

Our government and its military are highly dependent on oil. Think of all the oil we have burned up just getting to the "it's not a war for oil" and then waging it.

As we citizen consumers compete with our own government at the gas pumps for the privilege of buying gas, the price of it goes up. But our government has the ability to tax us, so they can take our money and use it for itself, to buy more oil, thus again driving up its price. With tax money taken from us. And slowing all other economic sectors of consumer spending and investment. Hence "shrimpflation."

Who benefits? People who control the flow of oil. Like the companies associated with the jerks we stupidly allowed to gain the White House.

This can only exacerbate the degree of shrimpflation, as greed, politics, oil depletion, and war have all merged into one leviathan phenomenon.

So what we have is a cabal of psychopathological maniacs who use war and other projects financed by your tax dollars to drive up the price of oil, enriching themselves in the process, and hurrying the depletion of oil at the same time, ultimately slowing economic "growth," which will actually reverse into worldwide economic depression the likes of which the industrial age has never seen.

Oh, did I really call them psychopathological maniacs? Tsk. I meant to call them stupid and greedy psychopathological maniacs.

Sometimes, in between all the advertisements for the various military services, MTV and VH-1 actually play music videos.

1 comment:

Eli Blake said...

In the long run this could have some beneficial effects. It could lead to more people using mass transit (not even as a matter of choice, but as a matter of necessity) and a corresponding investment in it.

Of course, I lived in the valley (hard to believe now, but I did) for a year in the late 1980's. At the time, they proposed spending some money on light rail. The anti-tax crowd won the election on the bond issues meant to fund it and they were voted down. So now, seventeen years later, light rail is finally being built in the valley, at more than ten times what it would have cost then.

You know darn well (at least I am sure that you do, after reading this post) that the best scenario we can hope for is that we relatively painlessly make the transition to a European type of society where people share the resources and they are managed for the common good, and people still have those little Eurocars for necessary use, that get 50 miles on a precious gallon of very expensive fuel. Any other model (like the mother of all depressions as you are suggesting is coming, or the horribly impoverished/fabulously wealty/little in between third world model, or the revolutionary communist model) are worse than that.

These are frightening thoughts, but wanting to work towards the best of these options, I am very much in favor of mass transit. Even in rural areas like here, there are things we can do.