Fiddling

OK, i confess.  I’ve been fiddling while the world burned.  Don’t know what else to do, actually, since i’m not smart enough, young enough, or eloquent enough to make any difference, so figure i might as well try to give folks some entertainment to take their minds off what’s happening.

But there’s a tiny shred of leftover ethics in me that makes me feel somehow dirty for not at least making a try at calling some attention to what’s going on now all over the world…and is being studiously ignored by most Americans.   I read my friend CK’s Some Assembly Required blog six days a week, and i credit him with being my largest single source of national and international news that somehow doesn’t get printed in the mainstream media.

So if you want only entertainment, just skip this one.

And no, i’m not about to go into some kind of peak oil rant.  Anyone who wants to look seriously can find plenty of data indicating that planetary oil production has basically plateaued since December, 2005 even though there are deniers shouting that we’re finding more reserves every day and that the blunt fact that we’re not producing more now means nothing, nothing at all.  Still, only a lunatic fringe expects anything other than increasing fuel prices in the future.  And any serious person can readily understand that life will be very different when we no longer have the cheap oil that made possible the quadrupling of the world’s population over the last century.

Nor am i going to make a case for global warming.  Skeptics might want to look at Glacier National Park while it still has some glaciers, since the remaining few are melting so fast that at the current rate none will remain in twenty years.  It is a matter of easily demonstrable fact that the planet is in a warming period, and the vast majority of the world’s climatologists agree that this warming is caused by the tremendous increase in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere during the last century by the burning of fossil fuels.  Unfortunately, it’s clear that even with far more draconian reductions in planetary CO2 output than would be politically possible, we have already reached a tipping point that will produce dramatic weather changes all over the globe.

Yes, ocean levels will continue to rise, and at an accelerating rate, but long before our coastal areas are flooded, global warming will cause more and more severe droughts and floods like the ones we are already experiencing.  These are having an immediate impact on global food supply, and this effect will be worsened by the increased cost of fuel to run our agricultural industry.

So what we’re facing, really, is not only peak oil but also peak food and the resultant deterioration in quality of life.  And we’re starting to face it now.  In the last week, the citizens of Tunisia and Egypt have revolted against their governments, and the press is attributing this to public outrage over political oppression and the corruption of their leaders.  However, the specific event that seems to have sparked the crisis in Tunisia was the self immolation of an impoverished vegetable vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi who was busted by the police because he didn’t have a permit and who despaired of feeding his family.  His act resonated because inequalities such as those he faced have made life increasingly difficult for the masses.

I find it instructive to consult a favorite chart of mine, compiled and periodically updated by our CIA and displaying income distribution around the globe.   The chart is organized from worst to best, with the country having the least equitable income distribution (Namibia) listed as number 1 and the most equitable country (Sweden) at number 134).  Curious as to how Tunisia and Egypt rated, i scrolled down until i found Tunisia at position number 62.  Egypt was considerably better at position 90.

The United States?  We’re at position 42, which means that Sweden and 91 other countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, are more equitable.  But don’t worry, Mexico is worse than us.

The fabulously wealthy folks like the Koch brothers who are financing the Tea Party have so far been very effective at convincing the members to direct their anger down at the poor and at the government for helping the poor.  And besides, we’re so much richer than Tunisia or Egypt that actual hunger isn’t common yet.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

Zhang HuanWell, except this heathen idol by Zhang Huan which landed last fall in front of City Hall and, having successfully sown some seeds of socialism,  will be taking off shortly:

And dammit all, after i wrote the above rant i discovered that somebody else had written it better two days earlier.  On the other hand, two days after i wrote that, i was delighted to discover that the Telegraph had jumped on my bandwagon.  And folks, i promise you the International Monetary Fund is anything but some pack of liberals.  Here’s a direct link to the IMF study in a pdf file.

Now, owing to popular demand, back to the circuses.

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