our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a


alchemy in reverse

Funny, those cute little dinosaurs, plastic and colorful, sold in sets complete with plastic rocks, palm trees, and cave people. Plastic. Hydrocarbons are miracles when it comes to building things, even in producing life-saving vaccines, antibiotics, and the syringes used to squirt them into our bodies. We need them. But we don't need them to keep transporting us and heating us when they create such havoc, are in limited supply, and are both politicized and the force behind self-perpetuating technologies. Think of the electric car and how it was first received. Think of the failed (because dismantled) energy programs Congress crafted in the 70's. Think of Reagan smiling as he took down the solar panels on the White House roof.

By manipulating a myth (and religion) of a free-market, owners of Oil have long worked to dig our social and technological trenches deeper. The interstate highway system was built at taxpayers' cost, while rail and public-transit paid their own way. Hence the suburbs and all the trimmings. The manicured lawns, ever-growing to accommodate the even bigger houses, status symbols enforced by vigilante neighbors watching out the window. A life style defined by commerce, the car as one's self-definition.

And now it continues, pedal to the metal, the blatant thwarting of alternatives embedded in political parties and whole media networks, religious crusades sold to us, and will continue be as sold to us as long as the sweet crude flows in the Biblical deserts. Obama, whose stimulus was centered on a revolution of developing alternative energy, has been literally demonized and castrated by it. Stimulus money still sits unspent, and no one seems to know that, though I suspect projects will be rolled out in time for the Party of No to take credit for them.

Worst of all -- worst of all -- the fracking has begun, sold quietly behind the scenes, unwatched. How lucky we are, discovering our own stash of hydrocarbons right beneath our feet! Why throw tax-payer money at wind or solar? At all costs, we need to pay down the deficit, let the mighty keep their taxes low, for everyone knows they "give" you your paycheck! Never mind that work doesn't work without workers.

And it's not just the US. The myths rule, and the creditor nations rule all. Krugman wrote yesterday
What I guess I’d say is that the creditor-oriented mindset permeates the whole world of men in suits sitting around tables talking policy. And the world will suffer for it.

Black gold, that's what oil has been. Civilization as alchemy in reverse.