Tuesday, April 5, 2011

U.S. Awash In Crude Oil (But You're Not Gonna Get It!) Why Should A Plutocracy Worry About Job Creation? (They're Doing Fine!) Prepare for Revolution?

If it hasn't occurred to you yet that there are quite a few people in this country basking in the sunshine with all the money you used to think was yours, it should soon.

Think we're not in Libya (and Iraq (and Afghanistan)) because of the energy opportunities? And you thought Dick Cheney was dumb?

Think again, friends (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

Last week, as if to justify his Libyan crusade, President Obama echoed the prevailing “peak oil” myth, stating that “we must accept the new reality that from here on out, demand for oil will always exceed supply”. It was music to the ears of the Rockefeller/Rothschild energy cartel and tax-dodger oil traders in Zug, Switzerland alike. Both know full well that oil companies pay around $18/barrel to get crude out of the ground.

Big Oil rings up its usual quarterly record profit, speculators led by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley tack on another $50/barrel and people get gouged at the gas pump. Governments “tighten their belts”, economies contract and the myth of scarcity (root word: scare) encourages a race to the bottom for the global masses, alongside an historical concentration of power and wealth by the well-fed and fueled global elite.

A day after Obama’s endorsement of concentrated corporate power and casino capitalism, the US Department of Energy reported that the main US oil stage depot at Cushing, Oklahoma was holding 41.9 million barrels of crude oil, very near its capacity of 44 million barrels. In other words, the US is awash in crude oil.

But, hey. It's good to have something to take your mind off the lack-of-jobs situation, isn't it? Maybe slave labor will make a comeback. (I know, it already has.) From Toms Dispatch (emphasis marks added - Ed.):
Here's a jarring fact:

In January of this year, 21% of Americans ages 16 to 24 had no job. That's 3 million young people, ranging from high school dropouts to graduates of America's elite colleges, and there could hardly be a more painful symptom of our ongoing jobs crisis and the misery it brings. When it comes to job creation, right now the U.S. can't even tread water, let alone climb out of the worst economic debacle in generations. Not that our elected officials are doing much to help. (Nor the media making much of a fuss about it.) Former Obama economic adviser Christina Romer recently labeled Congress's inaction on the jobs front "shameful." Yet this national scandal barely seems to register with Washington lawmakers. They'd be wise to pay more attention. In Africa and the Middle East, after all, it was a "youth unemployment time-bomb" that helped spark the region's rash of popular uprisings. Egypt's longtime dictator, Hosni Mubarak, was too busy enriching his family and friends to do anything about the legions of young people hungry for work - and for purpose; so Egypt's youth issued Mubarak a no-confidence vote and sent him packing. Likewise in Tunisia, where the hittistes - the young, disaffected, and often jobless - toppled autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The power of angry young people should be underestimated, not even here.

Yet when was the last time you heard Congress or President Obama mention unemployed youth in the U.S. or abroad? Having ridden into power on the back of promises to create jobs and turn the economy around, House Republicans have yet to take a single tangible step toward getting Americans, young or old, back to work. A recent Bloomberg poll captured the national mood: Americans have little confidence that either President Obama or the GOP is on the right track to fix the economy.

What better way to examine the waning place that labor occupies in American culture than with Lewis Lapham’s look back at American work, from the founding of the republic to late last night? His essay introduces “Lines of Work,” the latest issue of Lapham's Quarterly which, four times a year, brilliantly unites some of the most provocative and original voices in history around a single topic. (You can subscribe to it by clicking here.) TomDispatch thanks the editors of that elegant journal for allowing us to preview Lapham's essay here. (Andy Kroll)

The Servant Problem

In Search of the Lost Battalion of America’s Unemployed

Lewis H. Lapham

[A longer version of this essay appears in "Lines of Work," the Spring 2011 issue of Lapham's Quarterly.)

The news media these days look to outperform one another in their showings of concern for the lost battalion of America’s unemployed. Consult any newspaper, wander the Internet or the television talk-show circuit, and at the top of the column or the hour the headline is jobs. Jobs, the bedrock of America’s world-beating prosperity, the cornerstones of its future comfort and well-being - gone to Mexico or China, deleted from payrolls in Michigan and Ohio, mothballed in the Arizona desert.

The nation’s unemployment rate, officially pegged at 9.4% but probably nearer to 17%, in any event no fewer than 25 million Americans, a number more than equal to the entire population of North Korea, out of work or on the run. The metrics, so say President Obama, the Wall Street Journal, and A Prairie Home Companion, are not good. The stock markets may have weathered the storm of the recession, as have the country’s corporate profit margins, but unless jobs can be found, we wave goodbye to America the Beautiful.

Not being an economist and never having been at ease in the company of flow charts, I don’t question the expert testimony, but I notice that it doesn’t have much to do with human beings, much less with the understanding of a man’s work as the meaning of his life or the freedom of his mind. Purse-lipped and solemn, the commentators for the Financial Times and MSNBC mention the harm done to the country’s credit rating, deplore the trade and budget deficits, discuss the cutting back of pensions and public services. From the tone of the conversation, I can imagine myself at a lawn party somewhere in Fairfield County, Connecticut, listening to the lady in the flowered hat talk about the difficulty of finding decent help.

Speaking Tools Versus Busy Bees

The framing of the country’s unemployment trouble as an unfortunate metastasis of the servant problem should come as no surprise. The country is in the hands of an affluent oligarchy content with Voltaire’s observation that “the comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”

During Ronald Reagan’s terms as president, the income that individual American families received from rents, dividends, and interest surpassed the income earned in wages. Over the last 30 years, the wealth of the emergent rentier class has been sustained by an increasingly unequal sharing of the gross domestic product; the percentage of GDP accounted for by manufacturing fell from 21% to 14%, and the percentage accounted for by finance rose from 14% to 21%.

The imbalances become greater over time; as between compensations awarded to the high-end baskers in the sunshine and those provided to the low-end squatters in the shade, the differential at last count in 2009 stood at 263 to 1. With wealth comes power in Washington, so it’s also no surprise that the government, whether graspingly Republican or scavengingly Democratic, adopts the attitudes and prejudices of the monied sultanate. So do most of the nation’s news media, their showings of concern expressed in the lawn-party voices of the caterers distributing the strawberries.

The lines of work are as numberless as the hooks in the sea, but they divide broadly into employments bent to one’s own purpose and those bound to a purpose other than one’s own. It is the former that reflects the founding idea of America. The Puritan settlers of the seventeenth-century New England wilderness arrived from an old world in which the civilizations both east and west of Suez fetched their food and shelter from the work of variously denominated slaves.

The ruling classes of antiquity, like those in medieval and early Renaissance Europe, regarded the necessity of having to earn a living as a mortification of the body and a degradation of the mind. Aristotle had classified slaves as “speaking tools,” available for every purpose except their own, and for the next 2,000 years, in Asia as in Europe, it was generally understood that the terms of a man’s employment were settled at birth.

The newfound land of North America afforded an escape from the burdens of the past imposed by the divine right of inherited privilege as well as those enforced by Barbary pirates and British naval officers, the architects of the New Jerusalem bringing with them the Protestant belief that it was by a man’s work that he was known, not only to himself, but also to God and to his fellow men.

Comes the Revolution (and it's not gonna be pleasant, I'm betting, but when you allow things to go completely off the tracks of rationality . . . )?
Contrary to rumors being spread around, I do not know what our friends at Anonymous have planned for Operation Empire State Rebellion (OpESR). However, I wholeheartedly agree with the goals they presented in their “Communication #1” video. They are very similar to reports I have been writing and the movement we have been calling for on our social network. The Anonymous OpESR “manifesto” presented in their first video states the following:
“We are a decentralized non-violent resistance movement, which seeks to restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.

One-tenth of one percent of the population has consolidated wealth in unprecedented fashion and launched an all-out economic war against 99.9% of the population.

We are not affiliated with either wing of the two-party oligarchy. We seek an end to the corrupted two-party system by ending the campaign finance and lobbying racket.

Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlement and World Bank.

We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.

As a first sign of good faith, we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman. Until our demands are met and a rule of law is restored, we will engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience.”


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