Thursday, May 3, 2012


We are in the land of hair-triggers, walking on tip-toe past a picket of weaponry aimed at our heads and hearts.

One interesting trigger comes in the form of credit crunches in Europe being staved off by creative money creation and bizarre money swaps that seem like a game of musical chairs. This game, however, is rigged in a unique fashion. Instead of someone finding themselves standing without a chair and thus out of the game, the rules have been bent and we now find chairs occupied uncomfortably by several asses. It is only a matter of time before one of the occupants squirms a bit too forcefully and knocks off one of the participants. 

We are on a precipice at the moment regarding Iran--a big trigger. There has not been as substantial a buildup of military might in the region since the invasion of Iraq. Advanced aircraft are being positioned in the United Arab Emirates. Aircraft carriers arrive in the region. Preparations are underway throughout the region. Even news organizations are preparing for war with Iran by deploying into likely hotspots like Israel. But there are hopeful signs such as resumption of talks with Iran seen as having a more serious attitude towards negotiations, no doubt the result of economic sanctions and military pressure. 

The war drums are being beat by the media and the ever present hawks in the government. Nowadays, nearly everyone in the Congress is a hawk by virtue of the sly strategy of placing arms manufacturing plants in as many congressional districts as possible, thus tying local jobs to elections. Let us be absolutely clear: war in the Middle East has nothing to do with terror, real or imagined, patriotism, democracy, freedom or any of the other only too easily mouthed oily boosterism phrases that pass as thinking in this Wall Street captured world. It has to do with the industrial-military complex. It is a money machine. The United States has become so intertwined with this monster, that to remove the cancer would kill the patient. The military employs 2,316,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel. Currently 12.7 million are unemployed--eight percent. To add that 2.3 million of military related jobs to the unemployment roles would be catastrophic because the knock on effect would result in another 3-4 million people losing their jobs in support roles. We have become a military economy. 

Of course, there is the peak oil trigger. I think a better name would be "peak everything" as Richard Heinberg notes in his book of the same name. Oil peaked in 2007 0r 2008 depending upon how you rig the figures. Coal will peak in a few years and perhaps has already peaked in 2011. Metals are peaking and though we have mega tons of scrap lying in trash heaps and landfills, the truth is, with a peak in energy, the ability to refine and smelt and reuse metal will decline along with the raw resources. 

And there is the climate change trigger. This is the wild card. Without a viable planet, how much we consume or don't becomes irrelevant. Many scientists claim that it is too late and that humanity will die out in the next hundred years. Harsh stuff. One particularly downbeat scientist recently recanted and admitted to being too alarmist. However, it is not too hard to find evidence that we are accelerating towards an environmental collapse. I feel this trigger has been pulled and can't be unpulled. 

So, there are a large number of guns on the mantle. And, as Anton Chekov said, if you put a gun on the mantle in the first act, it must be fired by the third. The question is when will one or more of these triggers be pulled and the damage incurred in earnest? As we are not working very hard at mitigating any of the potential triggers, I can only say that we are instead whittling away at the hairs, scraping away bit by bit, and simultaneously tightening the spring on the trigger. The room may not be filled with a cacophony of gunshots this year, but I would say that we are due for one within the five years. 

Interesting times, my friend.

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