Monday, April 25, 2011

Karnak predicts what Kunstler will blog about this week

Johnny Carson as Karnak
May Kunstler call you a corn-pone Fascist!

I have three predictions about the topics that James Howard Kunstler will write about this morning when he posts his weekly blog entry over on Clusterfuck Nation.

First, he's going to castigate President Obama for not going far enough in this past Saturday's web address about oil and renewable energy and once again call Obama a disappointment who needs to be replaced.

In case you haven't watched the speech, here it is.

The White House on YouTube: Weekly Address: Stopping Oil Market Fraud, Beginning a Clean Energy Future

The President lays out his plans to address rising gas prices over the short and the long term, from a new task force to root out fraud and manipulation in the oil markets to investments in a clean energy economy.
Kunstler will once again point out that Obama's cornucopian ideas just won't cut it and that the President should tell the truth according to Kunstler--that America should realize that it's in the business of managing contraction, not growth. More on that later.

Second, he might actually have something nice to say about an article in the mainstream media, to wit, this article in the Washington Post:

Imagining a world without oil
By Steve Hallett and John Wright, Thursday, April 21
How would we live in a world without oil?

First, there’s transportation. With the overwhelming majority of the oil we produce and import devoted to powering our cars, motorcycles, trucks, trains and planes, the impact on getting around would be most dramatic. Price-gouging would begin right away, and long lines would form at gas stations. The lines wouldn’t last, though, because the gasoline would soon be gone. A strategic reserve of finished petroleum products — gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel — has often been suggested but never created. Within a month, every fuel tank would be dry, all our gauge needles would point to “E,” and the roads, rails and skies would be virtually empty.

How far is it to the nearest grocery store? How long does it take to walk — or bike, or skate — to work? Finally confronting our dependence on motor vehicles, we’d reach for whatever solutions we could find. Soon, we’d all be looking for an electric car (but there are precious few of those for sale) or converting our vehicles to run on natural gas. But we’d be waiting for some time to secure adequate natural gas supplies, establish delivery infrastructure and switch over our cars.

Our enslavement to black gold goes much further than the problem of getting from Point A to Point B.
Dear readers, you have no idea. Let me give you one example.
Eating would get tougher, too. If no one can truck in fresh veggies from across the country, we might be inclined to go back to basics and grow our own food. Local farmers would become a necessity, not just people who sell us honey at the street fair.
You knew I had to include a paragraph about growing food.

There's more.
It’s not just at the drip of the final drop that the oil crisis begins. It is when production stagnates and begins its inexorable fall. That perilous moment, alas, is now. Our oil supplies are about to begin to fail us. As oil becomes more scarce, we have to get serious about finding new solutions to power our world.

We have time to plan — but not that much time. And so far, we’ve done very little to prepare for a world without oil.
Kunstler will appreciate that one--at least someone in the mainstream media is writing about peak oil and taking it seriously. If Kunstler doesn't urge you to do it, I will--read this article in full. You'll be far better off for it.

I'm going to cheat on that third prediction by pointing out that I've already made it--Kunstler will repeat his insistence that we are not managing contraction. I've pointed out, both here and on Kunstler's blog, that the largest political entity that has explictly recognized that it's dealing with contraction is the City of Detroit. The first time I pointed that out, on CFN, I pointed the readers there to this entry:

Shrinking Detroit in the New York Times by way of the Columbus Dispatch

I also covered the topic in this post:

The solutions devised here will be exported, including the bad ones

It turns out that a third post of mine on the topic--American Assembly to meet in Detroit to discuss urban revitalization--has generated a follow-up.

Detroit Free Press: How would you revitalize Detroit? Conference brainstorms ideas
April 19, 2011
Municipal governments in older industrial cities such as Detroit and Flint may one day have to dissolve and turn their functions over to county or regional authorities unless dramatic new sources of revenue can be found.

That, at least, was one of the ideas floated last weekend at the American Assembly, a high-level roving think tank President Dwight Eisenhower began in the 1950s. The assembly spent four days at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, brainstorming ideas for revitalizing America's industrial cities.
Oh, look, it's one of the possible outcomes of the Emergency Financial Manager Law in drag!
In addition to dissolving municipal governments and incorporating them into county and regional governments, the ideas the Free Press published included:
Giving neighborhood-level groups municipal powers such as policing so these groups can govern smaller districts within cities.
In other words, communities will form neighborhood and homeowners associations. The well-off ones would hire security and the less-well-off ones would form Neighborhood Watches. That isn't a bad idea, but it depends on communities having enough cohesion to make the Neighborhood Watch effective and legal. Those that don't have enough cohesion could become breeding grounds for gangs or outright militias that provide services. Hezbollah and Hamas, anyone?

What else?
Taxing nonprofits such as hospitals and universities that employ thousands of workers and occupy huge swathes of urban land but pay no property taxes.
Detroit already does this indirectly by levying a city income tax. I know, I used to work in Detroit. However, since I lived outside the city, I got a refund every May. However, that won't make relations between Detroit and Wayne State, the Detroit Medical Center, or Henry Ford Hospital any more congenial.

So, why Detroit?
It chose Detroit as the site for the conference because no city so embodies the dilemma of industrial cities suffering population loss, said David Mortimer, assembly president.

"This is the right topic, and this is the right time," he told the several dozen urban planners, civic leaders, academics and other urban experts who gathered for the brainstorming sessions.
"Detroit is uniquely positioned because it invented the 20th-Century city," Hunter Morrison, an urban planner with Youngstown State University, said at the conference. "The challenge ahead is for Detroit to invent the 21st-Century city."
I keep telling anyone who will listen to me or read my posts that the solutions devised here will be exported to the rest of the country. I am not kidding when I write that. These people intend to do just that, which is why it's so important to encourage good ideas and squash bad ones like bugs!

Bonus prediction: Kunstler will make some snarky comment about Easter gluttony, but that's an easy one.

ETA: It turns out that I got two predictions right. In The Banana Peel of Destiny, Kunstler chided the President for not going far enough and reiterated his point about managing contraction. He didn't ever get around to saying anything nice about the Washington Post article; he was too busy calling people morons. Speaking of which, he had a better insult than snarking at people's gluttony over the holidays. Instead, he compared Americans to a pinhead at a freak show watching the other freaks burn the tents down. That showed more style and imagination than what I wrote, so I'm not sad about missing it.

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