Oil is Job 1

On September 3, 2010, in Corporations, by Joe Costello

The IEA announced the world is going to become increasingly reliant on OPEC for oil, more accurately the Persian Gulf, as other members of OPEC will soon enough be formerly petroleum exporting countries. The WSJ writes,

The global dependency on the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for oil will rise in the next five to 10 years as production by non-OPEC nations declines, the chief of the International Energy Agency said Friday.

“We have seen an increase in non-OPEC supplies. But in the mid-term, non-OPEC production will decline,” Nobuo Tanaka, the agency’s executive director, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. “So, dependency on OPEC oil will increase.”

OPEC’s 12 members, who include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, account for about 40% of the global oil (production).

So, I guess a trend that’s been going on for over three decades is news. The increase in non-opec supply is almost entirely due to the global economic contraction. Here’s some better numbers, not that numbers have any relation to economic reality these days, nonetheless, the countries around the Persian Gulf have 60% of known global oil reserves — speaking of unreal numbers — while, the EU, the US, China and Japan, who conveniently enough account for 60% of the world’s economy have only 9% of the world’s remaining oil reserves, and if you cut the US out of that equation it would drop to 3%.

The entire corporate globalization experiment of the past few decades is built on the premise of cheap oil. The entire global “oil market”, increasingly unable to provide cheap oil, is built on the American military, and the American military is built on debt, viagra super active online which each year becomes ever more unsustainable. Now, we could go to the EU, China, and Japan and say you guys need to start kicking-in to pay for our military service, but I doubt that would go over well with anyone, no one’s going to give money without a corresponding increase in say. Or we can begin to realize that the entire corporate globalization experiment, premised on cheap oil, is at best problematic and more accurately a failure. We as a planet need to begin creating a non-oil based economy, that is, we need to truly become post-modern. But when you have an economy, politics, and culture completely addicted to oil, that’s difficult. Instead you get desperation like ethanol and biofuels, which is the equivalent of the addict selling-off the food, furniture, and soon enough the house. Getting off oil is job 1 for any sustained economic revival and that means a complete redesign of our infrastructure.

Cross-posted from Oil is Job 1.

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As of December 2009 the Big Four is something you can search for and read about on Wikipedia. It’s still a stub article, but it’s there. I can’t go in and fill it out because I am worried about conflicts of interest now that I campaign on the issue. Someone reading this post should feel more than welcome to though.

If Wikipedia status means anything, it at least means an idea or word has been said enough times to become a meme. And so, after all my work with A New Way Forward and the work of thousands of people, normal and fancy, over the past year, the Big Four is at least a meme. (For full disclosure, we’re now asking people to break up with their banks at bankbreakup.org and canvass with BanksterUSA.)

What does the Big Four mean? It’s the big 4 banks — Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Chase — who together are a dangerous entity in society. Together, they pose danger to society, the economy, and our politics. They each have past the size of a company that makes a company more efficient and have become giants that hold the strings to our country. They have gone into the territory of overpricing, dominating political debate, and taking down the country without remorse when they fail.

I talked about this on Danny Schechter’s radio show on the Progressive Radio Network today (archive will be posted on Media Channel as well).

How are the big 4 banks dangerous? When you’re a corporation you put more money into investing in your future to beat out the competition. These big 4 banks did this in the 90′s, and back in the 80′s, and back in the 20′s, and have won. They beat out all competition and now anything they want, including the dangerous stuff, is deemed okay.

Most likely, your wages haven’t gone up in the past 20 years, we have around 20% unemployment and underemployment, we have millions of foreclosures, we have $700 billion of household debt, young Americans spend 29% of their income on debt, we have lack of individual political power with the decline of unions and what they stand for and, our state and local budgets have just been bamboozled and taken away by the big banks.

We have a janitor facing eviction cleaning up after the CEO whose bank bought her house

“At first, Minneapolis janitor Rosalina Gomez said she didn’t realize she was cleaning up after the CEO of the bank that bought her foreclosed home in a September sheriff’s sale. “At the beginning I didn’t know he was the guy,” said Gomez through an interpreter in an interview with HuffPost.”

We have made-up rules and gouging prices created to make you trip up and make the big four more money: You can get on a blacklist for something you might do without thinking. “Disputing a credit card charge by asking for a “chargeback” can lead to being put on a blacklist that merchants can check for customers who might try to defraud them. Getting off the list costs $99, although the fee is waived if the customer didn’t know they were committing “friendly fraud,” said Brien Heideman, founder of BadCustomer.com, which keeps such a customer list for retailers that don’t want to get hit with costly credit chargebacks.”

We have Greece’s debt turned into a money-making insurance policy by a Big 4 and a Big 6. Bankster’s blog explains Greece, and here is a summary: “It’s “like selling a car with bad brakes and then taking out an insurance policy on the driver.” Greece is “too-big-to-fail”, is in heavy debt and can default. Goldman Sachs helped get them into debt by helping to hide the debt so they can loan even more money from others. Goldman, JP Morgan and others also sold “insurance policies” on Greece’s debt – their buyers will make a bunch of money if Greece goes totally bust.”

So, we’re at the beginning of realizing the answer to “Why are the Big 4 Banks dangerous to society and what’s a better way to do banking in this country?” Reuters knows why. They have a great graphic on the increase in size.

Simon Johnson beat me to it and layed out three reasons why “Big Banks are Bad”

“First, the economic advantages of bigness were not as great as claimed. In many cases big firms did well because they used unfair tactics to crush their competition. John D. Rockefeller became the poster child for these problems.

DESCRIPTION The original J.P. — that is, John Pierpont — Morgan.

Second, even well-run businesses became immensely powerful politically as they grew.

J.P. Morgan was without doubt the greatest financier of his day. But when he put together Northern Securities — a vast railroad monopoly — he became a menace to public welfare, and more generally his grip on corporations throughout the land was, by 1910, widely considered excessive.

Third, there was a blatant attempt to use the political power of big banks to shape the financial playing field in ways that would help them (and their close allies) and hurt the remainder of the private sector — including farmers, small businesses and everyone else.”

Any results-based, research-heavy, social-issues aware economist will tell you that they agree a level playing field is what all good things flow from. That’s all we’re asking for. I want a Democrat in Congress to show me how they aren’t keeping at bay the level playing field.

We’re at the beginning of the fight and wikipedia is showing that we can win over our collective hearts and minds.
Published on FireDogLake’s The Seminal here.

Healthcare part of economic equation

On March 1, 2010, in The Public, by Tiffiniy Cheng

In this article from Too Much, Institute for Policy Studies, they argue that healthcare is also about poverty. I think the missing narrative is that healthcare is a basic part of economics and is not the end all or be all but is an important part of the equation that helps to alleviate poverty and is a necesary corollary to a good standard of living.

That commission’s end product — Fair Society, Healthy Lives, or, as better known, the “Marmot Review” — last week went public, with hundreds of pages full of charts and graphs, a veritable epidemiological treasure chest. Amid all the data, a simple message: We can prevent health inequalities.

But to do that preventing we need to understand why we have these inequalities in the first place. And today we don’t.

We typically blame poor health on unhealthy behaviors. Or bad genes. Or a lack of access to health care. None of these factors, as important as they may be, turn out to statistically explain why some among us live lives so much longer and healthier than others. What does?

Says the Marmot Review: “Social and economic differences in health status reflect, and are caused by, social and economic inequalities in society.”

If we truly want to tackle health inequalities, advises the Marmot commission, we need to address “inequalities in the conditions of daily life and the fundamental drivers that give rise to them: inequities in power, money, and resources.”

Societies that have done a better job narrowing these inequities than Britain — or the United States — have people who live longer and healthier lives.

The new Marmot Review comes complete with recommendations for countering inequalities in everything from early childhood development to “the freedom to participate equally in the benefits of society.”

Behind all these recommendations sits an optimistic vision — and a warning. The vision: Our current economic crisis offers us an opportunity “to do things differently.” The warning: If we don’t do things differently, if we simply endeavor to restore the economic growth we had pre-meltdown, we doom millions to an ill-health they should not suffer.

signup“Economic growth without reducing relative inequality will not reduce health inequalities,” the Marmot commission cautions. “The economic growth of the last 30 years has not narrowed income inequalities.”

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On Energy

On January 10, 2010, in The Public, by Joe Costello

on energy

We watched the financial system help bring down the economy, but the fact is all finance remains a sideshow to the what is really the main event of modern life — energy. It is the harnessing of fossil fuels for human use that pretty much allows much of what we deem modern. And no nation on the planet has been more proliferate in its use of energy than the United States, thus America for the past hundred years has been equated with modernity. The most important fossil fuel for American modernism has been oil, more accurately cheap oil, and that is becoming increasingly problematic.

America first became aware of its oil dependence back in the 70s, but has done little about it except build its military in attempt to secure the remaining resources. The simple accounting fact is the finding of new sources of oil peaked back in the mid-1960s and has been pretty much a straight line decline every year some. Over the last decade, it has been struggle for the oil industry to even keep discoveries equal to existing use.

The United

States most recent oil program was the occupation of Iraq, and we will not be gone from Iraq until we solve our oil addiction. Stuart Staniford of The Oil Drum has an interesting piece about the redeveloping of Iraq’s oil industry and the Iraqis claim they can eventually pump 12 million barrels a day. This is very hard to believe for many many reasons. It would mean the Iraqis increasing total global production by over 10%. But, let’s say they’re right. It would be good news for the world only in the sense that as Staniford piece points out it gives the world more time to transition away from oil. However, there is no sign of this happening anywhere, particularly in the US, and of course China is going full bore in building their own oil dependence — call it modernity.

Thinking about energy gives a whole new meaning to the term post-modern. Every idea about future economic health needs to be tied to a transition away from oil. The good ideas don’t for the most part include present bio-fuels, particularly the turning of food-stuffs into transportation fuels. The American ethanol program is plain and simple immoral. But there’s other problems with many bio-fuels and the Post has good piece on the problems of increasing bio-fuels with more forest materials.

Energy remains the foundation of any discussion on the economy and it’s future health. One easy way to think, burning isn’t a solution. For America, it means conservation and efficiency foremost, and our waste is of such a horrendous magnitude there’s plenty to gain. The other is the sun and after many years of procrastinating, we seem finally to be getting serious about it. And that’s much better news that any increase in Iraq oil production.

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