In Our Hands, Part 1: How We Got What We Have (1950)

How economic progress comes from the accumulation of privately owned tools of production; demonstrates the need for tools by showing a young couple with their infant child in a wilderness with nothing but natural resources and their hands.

A Campfire post with an actual campfire!

In the spirit of Rod Serling, the following is submitted for your approval (and discussion):

Producer: Wilding Picture Productions, Inc.
Sponsor: American Economic Foundation, The (Inland Steel Co. & Borg-Warner Corp.)

Some Thoughts

I found the video (and the other parts linked below) very amusing for its quaintness and cheesy production, but I also found it rather thought-provoking. There are several energy-related issues raised, and dissecting each would require many posts. One particular theme relevant here, though, is that freedom, free markets, and free trade deliver the goods, so to speak. An optimistic view on the future of oil tends to be either that there is plenty of oil as long as we allow ourselves to extract it, or that the market will offer a timely replacement as oil production dwindles. In the video, resources such as oil are assumed to be there for the taking. Having a free market which efficiently allocates those resources is the key to prosperity. This is basically an anti-communist film, painting a black/white view of the world.

This video was produced around 1950, and it speaks to the predominant inward view of the US at that time. The US emerged victorious from World War II, and that outcome is portrayed as being due to the superiority of "the American Way". Oppressive governments with strong and charismatic leaders necessarily lead to war and economic hardship. Communism was gaining ground at the time, though, in China and Korea. The USSR had detonated their own atomic bomb. Also, nature is viewed in an adversarial sense. It's dangerous to be outside (particularly in the hills outside of LA), and survivalism is not for the ill-prepared. In the Twilight Zone vignette, we are introduced to the worth of tools, matches, and the concept of trade. Technological development, particularly in agriculture, gets a big thumbs up. But then the main theme is driven hard: what made America successful?

Something happened in this country to produce a titanic upsurge in human ingenuity and spirit...what was it?

The answer, apparently, is God and the Declaration of Independence. Much is missing from this assessment, of course. Having abundant resources, technology brought from Europe, and geographic isolation during the wars probably helped some. Later, both in the above and in the other segments of the file, the apparent failure of the Native Americans to advance technologically relative to the more recent arrivals is crudely invoked to advance this argument. But while that broader question is interesting (i.e. why did primitive peoples in Eurasia develop technology and not those crossing the Bering Strait), I was struck by a partial explanation for this given in Part 4:

...we make better use of our natural resources.

For over 12,000 years, people lived off the natural resources and in fairly large numbers -- not necessarily comfortable lives, admittedly. But in less than a couple of centuries, the buffalo herds are gone, the salmon are gone, and much topsoil has flowed into the Gulf of Mexico or been covered with pavement. Writing this in a comfortable house stocked with food does make it hard to be completely objective.

But what happens if the oil runs low? In 1950, the US produced about 5.4 million barrels per day and imported about a tenth as much. Today, (after peaking at over eleven MMBPD in 1970) the US produces over seven million - while importing 11.5 million. Most of the productivity gains touted in the videos were it some way due to the burning of petroleum. It's fine to claim credit for the ingenuity of taking it out of the ground, refining it, and burning it. But it will take a different level of ingenuity to replace its use as fast as might be necessary.

Finally, these videos point to the political difficulties ahead trying to address energy issues rationally. You will find the essence of the Tea Party ideology (at least the more rational parts). Championing more government to deal with peak oil, even if it is acknowledged as such, will be a hard sell.

Here are the other segments, if you haven't seen enough yet:

The US is a Plutocracy.

I think Kleptocracy is probably more accurate, but perhaps that's splitting hairs. ;-)

Americans are fond of ascribing to Virtue that which belongs to Good Fortune.


That's what I was trying to explain to a friend the other day, who was a bit head-over-heels about the recent political turn: politics has much less effect on things than people think. In an era of abundant resources (per capita, of course), any hare-brained ideology or scheme is likely to "succeed"; when there's plenty to go around you could believe whatever boneheaded stupid thing you like and you'll probably still wind up fine.

On the other hand, in an era where resources are scarce (per capita) boneheads get weeded out, failure is more common than success, virtue isn't rewarded much more than vice, and you wind up with ideologies that justify the suffering of the majority.

Some people will be weeded out but it's unlikely to be the boneheads.

Another clarion call for speech about vital matters (e.g., human population dynamics) where silence and denial prevail.......

Weak tea.
"Take away our corporate right to profiteer and you'll DOOM the USA to a Nazi-Communist dictatorship. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"
Or DOOM you to a subhuman standard of living if you let the hippies(Indians) take over.
Lenin allowed incentives under the New Economic Policy and Hitler never took over any corporations except Jewish ones.
No facts just continuous Bircher hyped up fear-mongering.
With all these right wing think tanks you'd think they'd be able to really prove their case with scientific evidence (except they are anti-science).
In fact the Tea Party is looking for the next Hitler, to save America from the secret(librul) enemy from within.
In the meantime, they'll vote GOP.

NAZIs were the National Socialist Workers Party - They were LEFT wingers, not right wingers. By definition, radicals come from the left, not the right. Hitler hated communists, but it was because it wouldn't have work well with his ideas of nationalism and fascism and that the original Russian revolution was full of Jewish conspirators, he couldn't have any of that, now could he? But, that didn't mean by any means that NAZIs were conservatives or capitalists.

Conservatism is to leave things as they are, not change things. You can't have it both ways, okay? Right wingers can't be stubborn neanderthals and radical change everything types too. Matter of fact if you look at you real super evil dudes in history. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Po Pot (what ever his name was) they were all LEFT wingers. Even Saddam Hussain's Baath party was a Socialist party. I guess if you wanted to get into some of the banana republics you could find some military dictators you could ascribe to be being conservatives, but I would label them more as just power hungry and greedy.

So if you want an annoying government, look right. If you want truly evil government (where they murder their citizens wholesale), you really have to rely on the left. Sorry.

Hitler was a Leftist by Glenn Beck?

"When I was young, Marxism, Social Democracy, and Socialism were identical ideas to me. But here, too, the hand of Fate opened my eyes to this betrayal of the people. I learned about the Social Democratic Party from a spectator's point of view without having the slightest insight into the meaning of their doctrine. But suddenly I came into contact with their view of life and realized that it was a pestilential whore masked in social virtue. I knew that I must rid the world of her."-Mein Kampf pg 51.

Conservatives and Hitler have identical views of "Leftists".

Here's what a leftist thought of Hitler the day he became Fuhrer.

"We German Social Democrats pledge ourselves solemnly in this historic hour to the principles of humanity and justice, of freedom and socialism. No enabling act can give you power to destroy ideas which are eternal and indestructible." --Otto Wells March 23,1933

Only the truly deluded would believe that Hitler was a leftist.

Oh is that what Beck thinks? Wasn't my source. I was reading about it before Beck was out of grammer school.

According to you there are a hell of a lot of deluded historians. Hitler's NAZI party was left, he wasn't necessarily left, I think all Hitler cared about was Hitler. Mussolini's background is entirely socialist, though granted many of his government were conservative. Bottom line, for every historian that will say Fascists are righties you will find one to say they are leftist. Most would say they are a animal all unto themselves.

Unfortunately, the Neo-Nazis and Skinheads of today have laid claim to title to things that should have stayed in hell where they belonged. But, putting Tea Party in the same league with these folks is as irresponsible as putting Obama in league with murderers like Uncle Joe Stalin and Chairman Mao. They see life different than you do for sure, but they aren't evil boogie men (women) going to hack you to death in your sleep. They definitely are not NAZIs any more than you are a Marxist (that is unless you are a Marxist, then I apologize, then I can see where your fear inspired speech is coming from).

They definitely are not NAZIs any more than you are a Marxist

I think these people are more of a danger than you give them credit for. They have been very much into propaganda, versus truth. That generally arises, when a movement feels they are fighting for something of great importance, winning takes priority over things like truth and fairness. But, we've really evolved a pretty nasty anti-intelectualism here. Its partly conflation of the fact that they feel taken advantage of by elistists. Of course the elitists that have taken advantage of then are corporations, and financial types. But the later have done an excellent job of deflecting the anti-elitism towards scientists and other forms of expertise.

Now, so far few of these people dream of becoming storm troopers, or anything like that. But, things evolve with time, and movements change with time. What is unthinkable today may not be tommorrow.

As far as I know there is no penalty of any kind for telling
ridiculous lies or otherwise twisting facts (eg Glenn Beck).
In the good old days, people would laugh such stupidity into oblivion but today we're all so PC.

It never entered my mind that any Tea Party-ists would want to hack me to death in my sleep, but it entered yours.
You should look into getting help with that overactive imagination of yours. They have some very effective and inexpensive medicines for nasty paranoid delusions, but you have to take them everyday.
And Obamacare will help you pay for it!

The base of the Tea Party, is HARDCORE Christian.

"81% identify as Christian, and nearly half (47%) say they are part of the religious right or conservative Christian movement. ... isn't libertarian, it's much more socially conservative, with 63% saying abortion should be illegal and only 18% in favor of gay marriage."

And what are those who are HARDCORE christians doing in America,
outside of the gaze of the public eye?

Their taking their kids to "Jesus Camps"

Watch all nine parts if you can handle it.
All 9 parts are listed on the right side of the page.
IE: 1/9 2/9 ect.

I'm not here to say "left wing groups" are in any way
"Nice and only calm happy people".
Nor am I am here to denounce ANY religion.

But a person would need to be special,
to overlook the threat posed by the right in America today.

Im not here to argue.
If I was, Id say hurtful things.
I'm posting here to point out resources for those who wish to learn more,
ignore or accept them, as you choose.

Rightwing Extremism:
Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment

Militant Extremists in the United States
Author: Holly Fletcher
April 21, 2008

Domestic terrorism in the United States

Hitler was a political opportunist. In its early days, the Nazi party platform was based on a hodgepodge of ideas:

- nationalism and militarism, coupled with the idea that only a strong leader could bring Germany to its rightful place in the world, to appeal to those who resented losing WW1 and the indignities of the Treaty of Versailles
- anti-communism to appeal to middle and upper classes and christians generally
- anti-semitism to appeal to long standing prejudices.

At the beginning, there was a strong left wing within the Nazi Party. However, this was soon purged and reduced to impotence. Aside from Joseph Goebbels, the left wing Nazi leaders such as Gregor Strasser were marginalized, and, in many cases, killed. The practical reality was that business interests could provide the campaign funds that Hitler needed and preparations for war would be delayed by radical changes in the management of industry.

After Hitler gained power, labor unions were dissolved and industrial cartels were set up. You can google the book "The Vampire Economy" - this gives a pretty good idea of the the war economy aspect of Nazi economic administration.

It is interesting to read contemporary accounts by writers such as George Orwell. By the late 1930's, nobody thought of Hitler's government as anything other than a right wing entity.


Only the truly deluded would believe that Hitler was a leftist.

To be fair the right has been pushing this interpretation for quite a while. It has a ring of truthiness for their listeners, who are primed to believe all bad things come from the left. The word "socialist" did appear in the party name, and thats enough to power propaganda. So many people will have picked up the meme without trying to figure out whether it makes sense. PLus in the modern American scene the right is pro Israel (which is thought of as pro Jewish), and the left some pro and some anti. So by the simpleminded argumentation Jew haters are by definition left not right.

But if you look at what the Nazi's did, there wasn't much socialism, left the corporations intact, tried to destroy communism by destroying Russia... It seems the used the word as a way to co-opt the German left. And it was mainly the German right, and captains of industry who allowed Hitler to come to power, thinking they could get what they want, and then dispose of the madman. They did make the government a very big part of the economy. Contemporary American rightists attack any possible expansion of government by labeling it as socialism, so they are primed to believe that Nazi=leftist. But, the Nazi's built up a "mythology" about a glorious German past, and then sought to recreate it. That is very much a rightwing kind of thing. Try to bring back an idealized past.

Generally you shouldn't expect to have a one to one comparision of modern (and foreign) political movements, some parts of the platform will map to one side of the modern left/right divide, and some to others.

Arghhh...! This is all making my head hurt, left is right and right is left. The US seems to be descending into an Orwellian hell hole and the population succumbing to acute paranoid schizophrenia brought on by the stress of circling the rim. Truth seems to have been put through a mincing machine and the pieces randomly reconstituted and stuffed into peoples brains via a crude propaganda system.

I guess an outsider watching Germany in the 1930's would have the same sense of horror as they watched an entire nation slide into insanity and madness. Did I actually see a headline the other day where someone was making a case to attack Iran to save the economy or was I just dreaming it in a nightmare?

...of course its common knowledge that it took WWII to lift the US economy out of the Great Depression. In a couple of years we'll probably be ready for the same medicine - simple economics!

Common, but incorrect.

Actually, the recovery started almost as soon as FDR's policies were implemented in 1933. From 1934-1941, the US economy averaged almost 11 percent growth and had nearly returned to 1929 levels before we entered the war. That includes a period (1938-39) in which the economy shrank, after Roosevelt dialed back spending in response to concerns about the deficit.

It is true that the economy grew much faster after we entered the war, but that's not the same as stating that WWII rescued the US economy after the Great Depression or that a war is needed to end the current economic doldrums.

U.S. unemployment was over 10% in 1940. During no year from 1930-1940 did U.S. unemployment fall below 10%, and most years were far above the 10% level. Thus it was indeed World War II that got us out of the Great Depression.

Yes, it is hard to argue with the statistics, but current circumstances are nevertheless entirely different. Absurdly oversimplifying the causes and effects and attempting to enter the same stream twice would likely lead to drowning, this time around.

Blowing things up and killing people is "good for the economy"?
Then "The economy" is an evil thing.

Perhaps we could be more civilised and blow up infrastructure and kill people by lottery? That would prevent a lot of hurt feelings.
Would this create a wonderful economy? I think not.

The economy will die.
It has the Prince of Illusions hoofmarks all over it.

Sorry, you're not dreaming. That was David Broder, Dean of the Washington Press Corps.

So if you want an annoying government, look right. If you want truly evil government (where the murder their citizens wholesale), you really have to rely on the left. Sorry.

Major, to be clear I'm generally more interested in the hard sciences than I am in social sciences but your statement and historical perspective is just so far from any semblance of reality as to be shocking. Read this book to get an idea why your characterizations of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussain, etc... as being LEFT wingers. or socialist is not even wrong.

Just some food for thought.

The Authoritarians
Bob Altemeyer

Now you are discussing 'Authoritarian' personality types both in leaders and followers and THAT is a whole different discussion. Being an Anti-Authoritarian all my life I can relate. I think I'm going to save this PDF off and do some serious reading. The Authoritarian followers, be they RIGHT or LEFT are really a danger to us all. Whether they are following a Adolph Hitler or a Oliver Cromwell, they can lead to a lot of havoc. Now if you would have thrown his name up as a RIGHT wing dictator who got a lot of people killed over his ideals (No, I'm not a Catholic). I would have sat up and listened.

First a comment on the Revolution in Russia, 1917. Few people know this, but they first a had democratic non-violent revolution in february, 1917. The Tsar was de-throned, and a democratic parlament was established. No none died. Sure the paralemt was inefficient, they had no previous experience with democracy, but you have to start some place.

Then in october/november (depending on what calendar you use, I always mix them up) there was a very bloody bolshevik coup. Bolshevik means "majority" but with few exceptions they were a minority who held power by gun point. They stole Russia, ended the shortlived democracy, making what would otherways been one of the leading nations in the world become a tragic joke with political concentration camps on top.

Regarding Nazis as left wing, it is a bit more complicated than a simple "either or" as somepeople her seems to think. In Europe today, we have "far right" parties in many parlaments, including now even Sweden. These parties are defined by 3 sets of ideas:

Moral conservatives. (Often anti-gay, etc). This should put them on the right side.

National centralism. In other words, they want the gouvernment to control a lot. This is left wing. They often want to leave the EU, wich is a typical left wing idea. Basicly, they have a solid foundation in left wing ideals.

Nationalism. Basic rasism in its politicl disguise trying to look like patriotism. Rasists comes in all colours so I wont label this left/right.

This make your standard european nationalist party - the inheritors of the nazis - lefists with nationalism and moral conservatism.

"They often want to leave the EU, wich is a typical left wing idea."

This is wrong, Nationalists are usually to the right and it's the Nationalists who usually want out of the EU. Socialists need big government to undertake wealth distribution and the EU is even better for this purpose. Don't get me wrong, left, right and centre are all the same to me and I'd throw them all on the same bonfire.

Bolshevik means "majority" but with few exceptions they were a minority who held power by gun point. They stole Russia, ended the shortlived democracy, making what would otherways been one of the leading nations in the world become a tragic joke with political concentration camps on top.

I think this is a bit simplistic. Even without Lenin and the Bolshevik's (it was a great act of propaganda to choose a name that meant majority for a small minority), the fledgling democracy faced many dificult challemges. There is no guarantee it would have turne out well.

It is interesting how the Kaiser released Lenin (he took a special train to Russia) in order to make it more likely that Russia would stay out of WWI. In essence, Hitler's archenemy the USSR was given birth by a desperate act of the German state, trying to influence WWI.

But, I think your main point, that the left right labeling often leads to contradictions is a good one. Mostly political activists of whatever stripe, try to label things in the past or the present in ways that enhance their current struggle.

First a comment on the Revolution in Russia, 1917. Few people know this, but they first a had democratic non-violent revolution in february, 1917. The Tsar was de-throned, and a democratic parlament was established. No none died. Sure the paralemt was inefficient, they had no previous experience with democracy, but you have to start some place.

If I remember my school history correctly, the only reason that first revolution failed was because the new government wanted to continue with the war. Had they sued for peace then who knows!

"By definition, radicals come from the left, not the right." (????)

goodmaj, please elaborate. I have yet to find an institution of human creation immune to the creation of (either purposely or accidently) radicals.


This idea that Hitler and the Nazis were "leftists" is completely ignorant nonsense pushed by Glenn Beck, Teabaggers, and similar right-wing nuts and idiots. It's derived from their "logic" that left = bad; hitler = bad, therefore hitler = left. Just plain stupid, really. But there are people from the rightwing fringe who push this idea. "Conservatism is to leave things as they are, not change things." Ha! Maybe in some theories, not in current American political fact. In fact, the "conservatism" we have today has little to do with that idea. If "conservatism" as currently practiced was related to the plain sense of its name, then conservatives would be championing CONSERVATION.

I can only speculate what radical christain minister might be feeding you these lies, but I strongly recommend as an antidote a quick google of "Fascism", the German Nazi's support of Franco in Spain in his horrific supression of leftists in the 1930's, and how many real leftists fought and died against them throughout the 1930's.

I can also strongly recommend to everyone that these "Radical Christian Fundamentalists" are FAR more dangerous to the USA overall than any "Radical Muslim Fundamentalists". One may destroy a few buildings, the other can destroy your nation.

BTW, FYI, I've never voted anything but Conservative here in Canada, but the conservatives here are a bit more rational than the Republicans (and even the Democrats I think) in the US. I've also stopped supporting them and dropped my party membership ever since they were taken over by the economic neo-cons, who are IMHO an amoral lot of irrational liars disguised as economists and political "thinkers" LOL.

No, so sorry to YOU, comrade! In your fascinating world history lesson above, you completely left out the Undisputed All-Time Hall of Fame Champion in such notable categories as Torture, Religious/Sexual/Ethnic Discrimination, Plundering, Pillaging, Forced Castration, and the ever popular Total Body Count. Yes, I'm talking about the decidedly right wing, right hand o' god, righter than right, righter than thou,so right it hurts (literally sometimes)... the Most Holy Catholic Church. And before you or anyone else goes complaining about all the good stuff they did in addition to all the nasty stuff, I submit to you that the Germans gave us Beethoven and the Porsche 917.
Now I know that the word "socialist" in the context of the National Socialist German Workers Party is confusing you. Sounds like an obvious and convenient way to associate liberal Democrats with Nazis, am I right? Well, it turns out that socialism has a different meaning than that represented by many of today's leading fair and balanced sources of information. And national socialism was a different animal altogether! See, there are these things called "books", many of which have all sorts of useful tidbits in them. Like, say, the political philosophy of Adolf Hitler. Or how to spell "Pol Pot". I've found that when making ill-informed black-or-white comments regarding sh-t that I don't know the first thing about, correct spelling is a must.

Well said.

Nazism or other 'isms can crop up anywhere, even here in the good 'ole McCarthy-ist USA.

The fault lies not in one national identity or another but in the susceptibility of the human mind to well executed manipulation.

Your comments were directed at goodmaj, yes?

What do dictatorships have in common? They limit the powers of Unions. They control the Press. They attack Educators. They create minority scapegoats, they.... Oh, I forgot. They're already doing that stuff in good ol USA...I guess all you need is 'the leader'. Hey, maybe it'll be a cute Grandma in a skirt!!

Get some high fat vittles under your belt and a good sit com in the house and next thing you know you'll feel safe! Imagine that.

The fights and struggles never end.

I liked the video. It was fun.

Cheers from the wet coast. Good luck, everywhere and everyone.

Considering you are sitting at your computer typing whatever you want to, about whatever you want to kind of proves we aren't in dire straights yet. But I see that both the far left and far right would both like to cause what you're talking about. Wing nuts on either side are a pain in the a$$ and need to be kept in check. I don't think the Obama crowd or the Gingrich crowd either one are bad enough to cause the kind of angst that you seem to be having though.

Hmmm... It's being debated whether or not to give Obama an Internet kill button to terminate the Internet should the need arise. Remember, what most people associate as collapse is in fact just the end of the process when failure becomes total and effects everyone. Before that collapse is still occurring but only a portion of the population is actually affected by it, therefore the majority are unaware of it. Once the failure becomes total, everyone is affected and everyone is aware of it. So the fact that someone is doing something today has no bearing on whether we're in dire straits or not.

So who is it that you are debating with to give the president of the United States such a power? Which way are you and your fellows leaning now?


What happened to this country? How could anyone in their right mind even consider voting for Palin? I wouldn't vote for her if she was running for Dog catcher. We live in scary times when someone with such lack of skill and ability can ascend to such political prominence. Sara Palin has a very average intellect, she has no business global politics. She should be teaching Sunday school in Wasilla, not negotiating with foreign heads of state. Dumb and dangerous.

No, I wouldn't consider voting for Palin. Make you feel better? :-D Believe it or not, insults aside, for exactly the reasons you listed.

Windy City,

Your frustration is obvious.

Start paying attention to "how" Sarah Palin says things, not just to the "what" of that she speaketh of but knoweth not about.

Did you ever notice how her word speed and volume and pitch change towards the e-n-d of e-v-e-r-y sentENCE?

What does it mean? What does it mean?

edit: p.s. How wood yah feel?

They attack Educators.

That doesn't appear to be true. For example, China has a literacy rate of 93.3%, while India has a literacy rate of 66%. Dictatorships tend to set up comprehensive public education with compulsory attendance.

That is certainly an interesting interpretation of compulsory public education. I think the problem with the comparison is that China is not rising dictatorship like Germany in the mid-1930s, but a fully established one. In the process of establishing its self the Communist party certainly would have attacked educators and anyone else with incompatible ideology in a very literal sense. The education system today is wholly under party control and unacceptable ideas are kept safely out.

On a related note literacy, while a good indicator of early education, is not a comprehensive measure. China's high literacy rate is the product of a policy to produce a educated workforce to further its industrialization. To further this I suspect their education system is heavily slanted in favour of the sciences and away from anything that might lead to questioning the current regime.

One of the first implementations of universal elementary education (for boys) was by Fredrick the Great of Prussia, who would qualify as a dictator, being an absolute monarch. It resulted in a populace that could read, write, and was inculcated with Lutheran piety. It supplied a large quantity of soldiers and officers for Fredrick's armies, which were needed, since they experienced heavy casualties in numerous battles with moderate success.

Dictators of the right usually support universal education in order to maximize their available human capital.

Dictators of the left do the same, but are also motivated by an ideology of equality.

When dictators take over from a non-dictatorial form of government, they liquidate those parts of the educational establishment that do not support their new regime. But that is true of other parts of society as well, not just education.

One of the first things that Chairman Mao did with the help of his Politboro was to have a purge, which wiped out most of the 'academia' just like Joseph Stalin had done in Soviet Russia. Mao eliminated, as in MURDERED, 40-50 million individuals before it was over. That is what was meant by 'They attack Educators'. Yes it's true. It seems that Uncle Joe in Russia only toasted 30-40 Million, so he wasn't as bad of a mass murdering scum bag socialist marxist a$$hole then was he.

I think goodmaj has been unfairly addressed in today's campfire for daring to speak his mind which may not fit with others.

I think that if given the chance to hash this stuff out many of us are on the same page....even though it doesn't feel like it many days.

For time goes by I find it increasingly hard to line up with any label in 'Canuckistan'. As a youngster I used to be so pro-business, until I met two folks. I was 16 and worked part time at a gas station pumping the fuel and doing lube jobs...ding ding. (Ah, the good old days) Anyway, we had a Provincial election and we were talking politics and I asked my boss why he supported the NDP, who were very pro Union at that time and very left. He simply said, "I may own a business but I work for a living. I think the NDP supports workingmen who work". A year later I was building a fence for a manager in the mill and asked him why he was an NDPer? He told me about how, in the Depression, he was on a work gang at 16, in Vancouver, putting in sewer and water lines by hand. An older guy worked with him. They sat down to eat and he noticed the older guy eating a sandwich of bread and potato peelings. He voted left and worked for the left for the rest of his life.

So here we are in 2010 and it is not so simple. We have to be wary of them all as it seems that there are so many liars and wolves saying one thing but meaning another. Part of me thinks left is kinder and value based, and part of me wants to limit Govt and lower its influence in our lives. Those who espouse to be oh so Christian are they really? or, are they Christian in the sense that Hitler was a Socialist? Is it Christian to have private jails and send folks to prison for years for a simple drug offence, and yet not charge the banksters for stealing billions from everyday citizens? Remember the movie "All the President's Men"? The line, "follow the money", says it all as to who and what we are.

This is an energy forum. We are passionate about the ideas of change in a world of finite resources...or many of us are. Should we not distill the rhetoric into who best lines up with this concept vrs BAU? And if this means speeding up responses? Some see the right as being less wasteful, and yet others see the right as having wasted so much with lies and support the Plutos.

I used to always vote, welcomed the chance to vote and took the responsibility very seriously. Part of me is now asking "how can I continue to do this"?

For my family I will support the party who I think will leave my land alone, not waste money, care about people, and try and lead us wisely into the 'change a comin'. Unfortunately, from my northern vantage point, I sure don't see any USA political party doing any of those things. Nor do I see one in Canada? Do we vote Green? Maybe we need to investigate their written and stated platform.

Right now I feel the old "pox on both of their houses" kind of feeling.

Want to make a few bucks? Market and sell "Political Noseplugs" for 2012. Folks can wear them to the voting booth.

At least we still have some version of choice, and despite CCT on every city corner and our gun registry in Canada, I don't have to be afraid of a knock on the door tonight. Here is to hoping the money runs out before that can happen....


I couldn't agree more Paul, Both the Dem's and Repo's have ruined the US of A. I wished our founding fathers would have installed a parliment instead of letting us evolve a 2 party system. George Washington knew it was going to be nothing but pure poison for the country when he saw it coming. I feel the two party system will be the death of the United States. With a parlimentary system there are simply too many 'parties' that have to be bought off by the corporations and special interest groups don't have to buy off anyone because they can have their own party if they amount to anything. The idea that any party has 'some' representation at all times has captured my attention for years. This two party nonsense that we have is ludicrous, it invites corruption and at any particular time almost half the population of the United States is really not being represented.

With a parlimentary system there are simply too many 'parties' that have to be bought off by the corporations and special interest groups don't have to buy off anyone because they can have their own party if they amount to anything.

I think our political problems go beyond the two party system. Our free market ideology, has allowed the pursuit of profit to become the primary driver of our information conduit (the mass media), so
they favor the narratives that their sponsers (large corporations) want. Then in a similar vein we have not seen fit to minimize the influence of money and politics, so both parties are beholden to well funded special interest groups, they cannot prevail with hunderds of millions of contributions. And the for profit media benefit mightily from this money rules politics, as much of it is spend buying high priced adds. Our problem is we have taken the idolization of the pursuit of profit to an extreme, and don't fence it off from those areas of out society, where the pursuit of profit is too corrupting. I don't think technical fixes would suffice. There is no substitute for getting our priorities right.

EOS, Deep down I want to argue with you, but I can't. We HAVE turn turning a profit into a religion in this country and it has even infused itself even into religion. It's sad, very sad. Someone on the TOD quoted that the bible says Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a richman to enter the kingdom of heaven, yet you find so many so called christians out chasing riches like it was some sort of Christmas pudding. I don't get it.

I feel that capitalism is needed to keep people motivated to innovate and 'work hard', but we need enough socialism to provide a safety net for those truly in need. But the worship of the next profit report is just plain nuts. I'm a religious person and I think too many have sold their soul to the almighty dollar. Do I want to replace our system with a completely socialist society? no. But just as bad would be to have a totally capitalistic one. But, one place I'm totally unwilling to go is marxism and I'm totally willing to fight a civil war to prevent it.

The greed you talk about is really dragging the country down the tubes. So, I have to reluctantly, but whole heartily agree with you, "There is no substitute for getting our priorities right."

I feel that capitalism is needed to keep people motivated to innovate and 'work hard', but we need enough socialism to provide a safety net for those truly in need. But the worship of the next profit report is just plain nuts.

I think we are on the same page. The problem is we tend to think of the extremes -especially during hard fought political battles. So any use of government to level the playing field becomes equated with marxism. Or, on the opposite end under Leninism, any suggestion of using the market -or letting people make a profit etc. had to be completely snuffed out, and the hapless person breaching such an idea was shot, or sent to Siberia. The key is to find the middle ground. Where we set the knob is really a tachnical issue, but we made it idoelogical.

everyone seems to be afraid that if they give an inch, the other side will push the needle all the way to their favored (or imagined) extreme. Its kind of like a fight over the thermostat, I see any attempt by my wife to turn if up, as she will push it to millions of degrees and we will die, and she see's letting me have it as turning it to absolute zero and we will die. So we get out sharp knifes and have a fight to the death. Neither side can trust the other side (mediated by the system) to allow some sort of reasonable compromise to be reached.

left, right, these are meaningless labels and _at best_ the ideologies that supposedly guide them are the kinds of idealistic fantasies that are best
left in a short daydream (and at worst, inspire people to unleash war and
terror to create their brand of utopia).

Power is power. It does not matter if this power is in the hands of a
'left' or a 'right' organization. It does not matter if it's in the hands
of a 'private' corporation or a 'state'.. Power structures, those large
emergent organisms built on surplus energy and the competetive advantages of greater size and the thechnologies that enable it ,those power structures all live and die by the same rules regardless of what color
they're painted in or what ideology they trumpet.

Many 'useful idiots' up and down the pyramid in those power structures might believe in the rhetoric, but really, when it gets down to it, the
business of power is the same everywhere, and the very same mechanisms
will be found being employed to support 'left' or 'right' or any other flavor of the month.

In an industrial economy with the technologies we have (and have had through the 20th century, the age of mass media), _all_ of these states and businesses, at the top of the food chain, have been corporate structures. Part of the violent wrenching of the first and second world wars was the birth pains of a new dominant life form- the corporation. By the end of the first war, the total integrated economy retooled to fight
a war emerged as the only successful strategy, then it was a battle of economic resources against economic resources. And no later than the second war, the only structure left standing of any of the first-class
players was corporate. All states, left, right, whatever else you call
them, assumed corporate organization, huge, swelling bureacracies and immense mazes of procedure, the DNA of large complex organizations. There were occasional charismatic individuals, but there were no real rulers
anymore - even the dictators were more like particularly overbearing CEOs than like emperors of the past - they had too much structure, too much
organizational machinery, to do otherwise. Since that time, 60 or 70
years or so, we have had a planetary ecology dominated at the top by
corporate structures. Some of these corporations have flags and lines on
the map where they claim their monopoly. Others haven't the flag or
the turf but immense power and influence often across the turf of many of
the geographically bound corporations. How 'private' is a 500 billion
dollar megacorp, how 'public' is an empire with tens or hundreds of millions of subjects and half a continent in its territory?

It's amazing how we managed to push the myth so long that there is no
difference between a mom&pop business and a huge corporation,
or that there is no difference between the village elders, and a vast
bureaucratic empire.

Can we please stop blinding ourselves to this? Can we please stop throwing these pointless ideological utopias in our eyes?

They attack Educators.

That doesn't appear to be true. For example, China has a literacy rate of 93.3%

You have to distinguish between educators, and indoctrinators. The former are attacked if they don't toe the party line. But those teaching technically useful subjects and avoiding politics are useually left to do their thing.

In the US, our incipient plutocracy is trying a different weaker form of control. The theory is full spectrum dominance. Control enough of the sources of news/information, and (in the theory) it is irrelevant what your opponents do, you can simply overwhelm their ideas with propaganda and disinformation. You merely need
to discredit them in the eyes of the average Joe. This differs from the older/cruder methods of execution or imprisonment.

Don't they attack dissenters and activists, and in some cases those happen to be educators, businessmen, or other people of influence?

How we got what we have? Stole it from the natives who lived here.

The natives, who stole it from the natives that lived here... Just ask the Anaszi and Freemonts... Doh! they're not here to ask. They were wiped out!... Such is the way the world has been over the eons. Maybe all we can do is forget the past and just work to make the future better. Yah think?

Don't forget the Moabites that Moses had to clear out to get to the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers was particularly clear.

The palestines (arabs) came to what is today Israel in the 7:th century. They do however claim to be the natives of the land. But the jews had already been there for 2000 years when they came. The people who lived there 3500 years ago when the jews came were of course gotten rid of. Not that they didn't deserve it, given what they did to the people who lived there before them. And so it goes on, like for ever. They found caves with neanderthals in the Holy Land. The history of that patch of land on the earth is that of conquest. One conqestador after another.

It is like when you play Risk; the Middle East is so freaking hard to hold.

But we can at least credit the jews for documenting what they did, most other peoples hide the evidence and rewrite history when they are done. Like the arabs did. Or the Romans.

What I can't understand is, who the hell would WANT the middle east? I've been there. Not a particularly nice peice of real estate. The land is hostile without even beginning to talk about the people there. Give me a nice chunk of the PacNorWest any day...

> But we can at least credit the jews for documenting what they did, most
> other peoples hide the evidence and rewrite history when they are done.
> Like the arabs did. Or the Romans.

um, unless you happen to short-circuit any critical thinking on the matter
and substitute religious faith, you really have got to be kidding here.
The ravings of some weird religious cult leaders in the middle iron age (certainly not 3500 years ago, but closer to 2500) in an insignificant backwater in the shadow of bigger, older, richer civilizations, are 'documentation', whereas roman and arab accounts are fabrications?
the romans and arabs had large literate cultures (and, importantly, ones where differing opinions were published and debated!) and many historians who made efforts to not only document what they saw but to assemble and
rationally analyse historical knowledge available to them (not to mention
the greeks who did the same before romans or arabs).

This is all nonsense.

There is nothing at all to suggest the Anasazi were wiped out by invaders or genocidal neighbours. Nor the Fremonts. That's a clear attempt to normalise and excuse atrocities that put the U.S. in a bad light. And with totally unfounded claims.

goodmaj also says: "Maybe all we can do is forget the past and just work to make the future better. Yah think?"

That's a blatant conqueror's mentality. "I'm here now so I may as well stay. And we can forget all that stuff we did to you, right?"

There has never been any shortage of human cultures willing and able to wipe out competing human cultures; there have also been a great number of cultures who chose peace and flourished. I think I share the sense of your objection, however - while many cultures are able to look in the mirror and recognize themselves, we tend to look in the mirror and see lily-white angels of virtue, and re-write history to accommodate the delusion.

Indeed ... and in Australia (where we aren't strangers to Indigenous Peoples genocide ourselves) the conservatives deridingly call any attempt to address these issues (or even discuss them) "the black armband view of history". Their paradigm is simple: we came here, we had superior technology, the natives didn't defend their lands anyway (untrue), they lost, we won, look at the great country it is now, all the people who did the nasty stuff are long dead, let's move on.

And lets have a proper beer, and please stop all this lefty hand-wringing latte-sipping nonsense.

"That's a blatant conqueror's mentality. "I'm here now so I may as well stay. And we can forget all that stuff we did to you, right?" "

So what do you want to do, Shall we dig up Custer, Fetterman, Tyler, and half a thousand others and resurrect them and make them apologize? Better yet, why don't you take the title to your house and send it to the local Indian Tribe and apologize for taking their land. I'm sure, kharma will be satisfied when your kids are forced to learn chinese when they come to collect their bonds. So chill out will you.

What is certain as death and taxes is that eventually the good old USA will decline and be wiped out by someone else. It's life, that's what I was saying, it's a fact. If you can't live with it go back to your fantasy and I'll leave you alone.

A lot of what we have came from a nice endowment of domestic fossil fuel. We fought WWII with it and built our major cities and highways. Too bad most of it is now gone. If we are now importing 70% of our energy supplies and the world is now at peak, then what we have is about to get a whole lot smaller. I don't think enough Americans understand the seriousness of the dilemma, yet. I'm afraid that our quest to secure the world's last significant energy reserves will be our undoing. The instability of the Middle East is very unsettling. I don't see good outcomes in either Iraq or Afghanistan for the US. The Israel/ arab conflict with Iran, Lebanon and Syria is also very dangerous. Nasrallah of Hezbollah has promised the next war with Israel will be different. He promises to match Israel city for city, power plant for power plant. If Iran is attacked they could retaliate in any number of ways. The US has become an Empire that will stop at nothing to secure it's vital inputs. In doing so it has destabilised the entire region. I don't know why Bush and Cheney, and Rumesfeld are walking around free. They belong in the Hague to face charges for war crimes.

But, back to the original topic. Founding mythology forms national identity, and becomes self reinforcing. People very much fall for identity politics. Get them to identify with certain beliefs, as being what makes them special, and they stick to them. Even if the identity only somewhat matches the actual history. We also have a lot of Calvinism. I've always found this to be a strange one. The idea was God only picked a small number of "elected" for his fovor, in this life and the next. And nothing an unelected soul would do could get him into God's favor. You would think it would yield to passive resignation. Instead, people were determined to show to their contemporaries that they were worthy, by making tons of money. Now, we still have the remnants of this philosophy. We think the rich got there because they are superior people, and the poor are unworthy people with unworthy personalities. So we fall for Ayn Rand type narratives, and for demonization of welfare mothers etc.

We also think God selected special people to come to the US, to form a special city on the hill. So we got ahead, because we are special people choosen -and favored by god. This is termed American Exceptionalism.

The USA is the flagship of western civilisation.
Too bad it is sinking.
I find no schadenfreud in that fact.

Too bad it was built on an ephemeral resource.
I guess that our discount rate is too great. (Nod to Nate)

OK. So let us decrease it.
What do I see?

1) Economic contraction. (See, it is not too difficult to predict the future)
2) Increased competition for basics.
3) Increased difficulty in successfully raising offspring, leading to smaller, tighter bound families. (Errors of judgment will have more dire consequences.)
Leading. . .
4) (Here be there dragons!) to another surge of encephelisation. ie bigger heads. (Sorry ladies).

That's what I like to see, a man with a plan.

For number 3) Why don't we start with eliminating having tax exemptions for having children. For that matter, let's just tax everyone at the single rate. You want tax simplification, there you go. Tax exemptions for kids never made much sense to me even when I was raising a family. Pay me to have kids? Gee that's intelligent. Next, lets eliminate the credit for childcare, if you can't afford them, don't have them. How many stupid tax benefits do we have in our system for spawning and raising children. It some of our biggest social programs run amok. Socialism should be for those that can't do for themselves, emphasis on CAN'T. If we want people to slow down having kids, lets stop subsidizing them. (Okay, so I don't sound very conservative here... sorry... wait until you see what I have to say on education)

I have no plan.
I see the cards falling and remain pokerfaced about my incredible good fortune.
I am the product of millions of generations of ruthless genetic selection.
The line between survival and death is razor sharp.
My brother somehow fell on the wrong side and was shot out of the back of a Landrover in an ambush in Africa.
His undoing? He loved our Father just a little too much, and so stayed to defend him.

I keep this fact before me when I hear others bag Palin.
All of us are the unlikely winners of this selection process.
We get to throw the die one more time.
Who will it be?

We are superfluous:
When plentiful and disposable labor is available at $30 a month, there is no need to engage cared-for labor at a hundred times that cost++.
The setting is too expensive:
Why do a process where any mess has to be cleaned-up?

Get the U.S. government out of America:
Eliminate minimum and insured wages.
Deregulate owner's use of their lands.
Remove oversight of claims and quality.
Unburden profit of the yoke of taxation.
Restore the environment to the industrial commons.

Accommodate unproductive populations:
Expand the for-profit prison system.
Engage in continuous war.
Legalize euthanasia.

Suppress insurgency:
Bust the unions.
Control the media.
Eliminate education.

Increase productive populations:
Unfetter immigration.
Repeal child labor laws.
Decriminalize sex work.

All the world will come to enjoy congress with our common class.
The elite shall flourish in a boundless garden of bliss.

Or should we starve?

This is called "The Race to the Bottom".
It is distinct from "Being Driven Over a Cliff".

My question to you is this:
Does halting these dynamics require finding a voice?

Narcissism and Poverty: Triggers of Terrorism

One of the best ways to become a great nation is to find a land that you can invade - exterminate (or exploit to extermination) the locals, populate or re-populate with your own people, and exploit the natural resources that are abundant in this "living space".

The Serbians attempted this in Bosnia - we called it genocide.

The Nazis tried this, with their "living space" being Poland and the Ukraine - we called that genocide.. But the had two good precedents.

The Spanish did it in Central and South America. We call that colonialism.

The English (and other Europeans) did it in North America. We call that Manifest Destiny.

But in all 4 cases, the transient greatness of the nations (okay, except for Serbia) were the result of invasion, genocide and exploitation. In big difference is that the 1st two were in areas that were already populated by nations of similar development, technology and long standing relations. The aggressors were eventually stopped by their "peers".

The 2nd two examples were in lands that were developmentally and technologically far weaker, and that were geographically (and are) distant enough from rival "peers" to make intervention impossible or difficult. This allowed time to entrench the genocide and control. Eventually the victors have written histories that completely obscure the facts of "How we got what we have" and replaced those facts with new creation myths.

The problem for the United States is that it needs to learn from the Spanish experience in Central and South America - eventually the easily appropriated, and easily exploited resources run out, and the transient advantage is lost. The only remaining advantage is of distance, and in a coming age of expensive fuel, as New Zealanders say, the "tyranny of distance" will force adaptation.

Hi there Jovite,
There is an abundance of living room.
It is 200 kms from everyone.
To escape from our trap we will have to stop thinking like Flatlanders.
We will have to move into the third dimension.

200 kms away from everyone.
Straight up.

But first we will have to find another source of energy. A third nuclear energy source.

It will be a revolution.
Like all revolutions, there will be winners and losers.
In this revolution to come the losers will outnumber the winners 7 to 1.
But the winners will be seven hundred million times more wealthy than they are now.

The prize is big, failure is lethal.


Actually, I agree. And to me, it borders on criminal that we do not have permanent lunar colonies, L5 stations at least under construction, and a realistic Mars program underway!

Eventually the victors have written histories that completely obscure the facts of "How we got what we have" and replaced those facts with new creation myths.

Plus, as we get further and further from the time of conquest, the sins of the fathers become the sins of the grandfathers become the sins of the great-grandfathers. I was born of this property, my dad was born on this property, as was his father, Now you come to be claiming to be the rightful owner because my great-great-grandfather stole it from yours!

There was also "biological warfare" in the new world, which was incredibly effective (some estimates say up to 90% death rates) and mostly unintentional. It's a lot easier to subdue a technically inferior enemy if they are already reeling from major population losses.

In the end, the equation is simple - population/resources = potential. America is still in a pretty good spot, but we do need to roll-back child-rearing incentives and immigration, and set a goal of maybe 100M people in 2150.

Probably once resource shortages take hold pestilence will as well, and worldwide population reduction will commence. When will "peak population" occur? Maybe a 10-20 year lag from peak oil, and then a steady decay after that until we reach "sustainability"?

I'm one who does not worry much about reaching sustainability, only the population and technology point at which that is reached. It would have been far better to hit that point on the way up instead of the way down.

In contrast to the Twilight Zone proposal of "no tools" whatsoever, there is the short-story book called "The Hatchet"

--a young boy is stranded in the Canadian wilderness with almost nothing but a small metal hatchet.

Then again, in response to the BorgWar propaganda about the dumb injuns', there is Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel"

"How we got here" in truth is a long and complicated story that starts with the Big Bang, and Evolution, and all that other stuff.

We didn't get here in six days.

The first video identifies (at 11:30) what the producers feel are the three things needed to survive:

1) natural resources
2) human energy
3) tools

I only partly agree and feel they have a few facts askew. This view, as evidenced in the film's portrayal of the limited technology of the Native Americans, is an example of what James Howard Kunstler calls "technotriumphalism," whereby technology is seen as the ultimate savior of humanity, and the one thing that will propel us into the future.

Here's my own take on what the three things are needed to survive ....

Technology is NOT our savior, nor is technology even that which propels us forward. Instead technology is merely a platform upon which any given civilization rests. A Stone Age civilization rests upon a platform of Stone Age technology. A Bronze Age civilization rests upon a platform of Bronze Age technology. And an Industrial Age civilization rests upon a platform of Industrial Age technology.

But, by calling it a "platform," there is a dual implication. First I am implying that the platform is holding something up (that would be the civilization in question). And second, I am implying that the platform is somehow elevated, and is itself held aloft by something else. Here's my own list of (my layman's opinion on) the three things needed to hold up that platform:

1) natural resources
2) energy (any kind of energy, including animal power, water power, wood, coal, oil etc, not just human energy)
3) knowledge/skill

My own list of three is not too terribly different than the list of three offered by the film. But my list makes no mention of tools because in my outlook the tools are the result of the synthesis of those three. In other words, the tools are the resulting technology, ipso fact, the resulting tools/machines/technology are themselves the actual platform being held aloft by the three "legs" in my list. So I have a three-legged stool here. If you take away just one of those three legs, then the whole platform comes tumbling down, and the civilization collapses. When it collapses, it collapses "downward" to a lower level of civilization, reorganizing itself upon a lower and less advanced platform of technology.

When it comes to advances in technology, (aka advances in civilization) there is an unwavering requirement made of the three “legs” holding everything up: two of them MUST remain constant in order for advancement to the next level to happen. Those two are 1) the availability of natural resources, and 2) the availability of energy. But the “leg” called knowledge needs to keep changing and advancing, never remaining static. If the “leg” called knowledge stays static, then the civilization will remain static and simply keep maintaining itself, endlessly using energy and using natural resources. But if that “leg” keeps progressing, then the civilization can expand upward to higher and higher levels of advancement. And so the “leg” called knowledge/skill becomes extended upward onto the next level, and the next level, and the next, etc. That way the knowledge of each successive platform builds upon the prior one. But as a civilization collapses downward, the higher and more advanced body of knowledge that was originally needed when upholding the higher platform becomes lost in the shuffle.

As for why the heck the USA made out so well? We had an entire continent of natural resources, we had lots of knowledge (and that knowledge only kept expanding for 200+ years) and the energy available (hydro power especially in the Northeast, and wood, then coal, then oil) was likewise quite abundant. There's also the two very important but often overlooked facts of our a) shunting the Native Americans out of our way, and b) exploiting African salves. And NONE of these factors I've cited here in this paragraph had anything to do with God or freedom but instead they are the products of underused resources, convenient historical timing, and political shrewdness. So the success if the USA is not a testament to democracy, merely to one awesomely huge boatload of luck. The energy and the natural resources were virtually untapped, and the knowledge just kept accelerating.

We fooled ourselves into thinking that our nation’s unique achievement in human history was due to how virtuous we were. When the sad truth is we were just plain lucky on an infathomable scale of unprecedented good luck when compared to any other nation in history. But that luck is about to run out simply because the natural resources and the enegry are about to run out.

While it's certainly possibly for human knowledge to keep expanding, it's certainly NOT possible for either energy or natural resources to remain infinitely available. Both must surely come to an end one day. We naively distracted ourselves for the past 200+ years with the whiz-bang-gee-aint-that-cool bedazzlement of our ever-growing knowledge (focusing upon the tangible fruits of all three "legs", the every-expanding plaform of tools, machines and tecnology), and turned our backs upon the dwindling supplies of our natural resources and our energy. Thus, as far as this ongoing winning streak we've enjoyed at the poker game of life, the bright and glorious future of George Jetson and Captain Kirk are not in the cards for us. Those other two "legs" are starting to wobble, and no matter how grand and thick and hardy that the third "leg" called knowledge may be at this time (a leg that has compounded in its girth over many millenia) the other two legs are growig thinner by the year and will soon give out. I just hope we cna arrange a comfortable landing for ourselves when the time comes for us to start descending downward again. I also hope we can somehow manage to preserve some of our current knowledge and not lose too terribly much of it.

Agricultural surplus is the primary foundation of civilization. It allows the existence of all the specialists, including the oil geologists, and gives them the leeway to pursue their acquisition of the fossil fuels that fires technology’s machines. The emergence of specialists, engineers and innovators, feeds back into the agricultural system to make it even more productive, thereby allowing even greater numbers of specialists and the energy to educate them. Now we are genetically engineering plants. At some point there will be declining returns and all the specialists in the world will not be able to coax additional productivity out of the earth, especially when the externalities that come from using fossil fuels return to give us the one-two punch.

The organizations of the world, led by minds formed by hungry cells, have no overall idea concerning their existence or activity on this planet, and if you try to inform them you will be pushed aside. They are noble competitors, no less. The feast must not be interrupted.

I can agree that agricultural surplus (or food surplus) is PART of the foundation of a civilization, but I would actually classify food (be it surplus or not) as a form of energy. So only via surplus energy can we rise above living hand-to-mouth. And even then, we need the knowldge to know what to do with it, and the resources to make it happen.

If you want to extend your definition of "agricultural surplus" to include non-food things like cotton and flax, then I think those agricultural products would fall under the category of "natural resources."

Of course, I'm not actually arguing with you as much as I am trying to put forth that my model of the 3-legged stool (natural resources, energy, and knowledge) still has merit, even when held up in comparison to your own paradigm.

I think we’re on the same page. The magical moment could not occur until the tools necessary for extracting fossil fuels, transporting them and converting them into light, heat and mechanical energy were in place. The development of printing presses, railroads and expanded metallurgy were some of the first industrial specialists occupations.

Agricultural surplus could only support the early engineers and thinkers long enough for their plans or information to be refined into functioning reality, a reality that included using non-wood energy in much greater amounts. Specialists could then concentrate on designing new tools to increase agricultural production that would support not only a greater expansion of population, but also a greater population involved in construction of infrastructure that would allow full use of the fossil fuels.

Of course, disillusionment and other ill effects will overcome us if growth, engineering and our production paradigm fail to find a new sponsor.

One of the books I've read that gives a lot of insight as to the acquisition of wealth is Kevin Phillips' "Wealth and Democracy." One conclusion he makes is that, for the US anyway, piracy was a major means of accumulating wealth for early Americans. In the US, as in Great Britain and France and other countries in those days, privateers sailed under 'Letters of Marque' which gave them license to piracy.

In later times, especially in the latter 19th century in the 'age of the robber barons' cozy deals with paid-for politicians enabled the mining companies, logging companies and others to buy federal land at ridiculous prices (and I think they are still doing this), laying the groundwork for vast accumulation of wealth that, to my mind anyway, should have been shared more equitably among the people.

In more recent times, one might concede that the oft-cited fortunes of people such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were accumulated honorably by creating real value for their many customers. Mass marketing can, I suppose, actually allow accumulation of large fortunes without resorting to the tools of crony capitalism or simple violence rationalized by documents such as the aforementioned letters.

However, I would maintain that most wealth that is concentrated in the hands of very few has not been acquired in a way that benefits many people. The impossibility of separating the honestly earned wealth from the stolen wealth in my opinion is a good reason to have a progressive taxation system, among other things, to provide some of a leveling effect on the disparities of wealth in our system. Affirmative Action was, I believe, intended to address the issue of the disparity of privilege between the upper and lower classes, analogous to a progressive tax in some ways. I think it's too bad that this has become a whipping boy for American conservatives.

My 2c worth on how we got what we have.

One of the 'Reaganisms' that I remember clearly from when he was the president was Reagan's response to one of his aides who told him that Philippines dictator Marcos had stolen ~$10 billion from the people of the Philippines and sequestered it in various banks around the world. Reagan said essentially, "I though all his wealth was come by honestly!"

Finally got around to a log in for this site. I normally shy away from conversations on the net, but I am impressed with the commentary and insight of many of the people here.

Thanks for the video. I found the fact they overlooked the ruin of the rest of the industrial world amusing.

A word of warning Bob.
This site is addictive.

When I was a young fellow in thee 1970's, and a boy scout (of course!) we had a very good Scout Master who on a camping trip out in the country of Breckinridge county KY, had us play a thought exercise. These were the waning days of the "cold war", so here is what imagined:

Suppose the "big one", the nuclear war came while we were on our camping trip. We could not go back to the towns, we were on our own. All we would have is what we had brought with us...and it may well be all we would EVER have, and what we could extract from the natural world around us. We would have to survive from scratch.

What would we do?
What would we NEED first?
What would we want, what would we miss first about the culture we had known, a culture that had been 5000 years plus in the making?

It was a VERY informative little exercise. In the discussions that followed, I realized that what we would need first, as certainly as food, water, clothing and shelter, is something that we ALWAYS had with us, but we seldom actually have to use, something that would determine our longer time survival:


The whole of human history is an EXTRACTION industry...we are a parasitic species, a predatory species. It is only the power of IDEAS, of hard thought (and thought, if it is to be useful, IS HARD.) that seperate us from being just another animal milling about waiting to die, living from one bite to the next, from one kill to the next.

Where is the thought of today to come from? How is it rewarded? What is the worth of the IDEA? Who decides? Who pays? An idea is useless unless it can be shared and applied. But once shared or applied it is easliy used by all with no compensation to the thinker. How does one benefit from thought if thinking, if ideas, receive no reward?

nuff said, you can play out the whole rest of human history from the above.


Ah! Great American propaganda! Who said it was only Goebbels and Gorky that could do good old propaganda! Nay, gentle reader, the producer and writer of these films are just as much propagandists as anything the Nazis or Red Russians came up with.

Yes, indeed! America, the land of the free.... and the land of the most unequal distribution of wealth this Great Blue Marble has ever seen. The land where the power lies with greedy bankers who make nothing, do nothing worthwhile but still keep the peasantry in bondage. The land where the highest office of President is bought and sold in a grotesque Carnival of Dollars every fourth year; the place-man's allegiance going greasily to the highest corporate bidder.

Yeah, America - the Land of the Free - staved off the Commies. But look how you ended up - men on Wall Street paying themselves $300,000,000 per year but taking no personal risk in the company they 'steward'. Yeah! That's Capitalism. Wonderful, beautiful Capitalism! The bank teller gets the minimum but the CEO gets $300 million? And when his 'empire' gets found out for being bankrupt... never mind, just get the politicians - which he owns - to bail him out! Wonderful, wonderful Capitalism!

USSR 1950: Stale bread for the poor, caviar for the rich.
USA 2010: Capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich.

What a wonderful world.

Do they still play the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" on T.V. for the holidays?

CHARLIE: "Tell us about our money, George? Where's our money?"
GEORGE: "Wait a minute, now, let me tell you. Let me tell you. Your money's in people's houses! In the Kennedy house, and the MacClaren house, and in your house, and a hundred others. You all put your savings in here and then we make loans to people to buy homes and cars and other things. Now, what are you going to do? Take their homes and cars and things from them?!"

...Not rhetorical: I actually don't know. Interesting either way.

Also on the subject of propaganda: The re-spin of the "Founders" as moral.

Thanksgiving Holiday:
The first colony was Jamestown. They held slaves. This history was altered to feature Plymouth Rock, purity, and Thanksgiving.

The early action was all about costume accessories: hats and trim.
The American Indians were initially consumed as collateral damage during the exploitation of this resource.
The punch-line is, all those beaver-skin hats and fuzzy cuffs have long-ago rotted.

It never was moral.

I write because this all saddens me a lot. It was all lies. I grew-up in boom. I'm dying in bust. People are hurt.

The early action was all about costume accessories: hats and trim.

If I remember my history correctly there was a major difference between French and British colonizations. The French brought in a few trapers and traders, and largely let the Indians do the trapping. Generally the French got along well with the Indians. When the French lost the Seven Years War (which Americans refer to as the French and Indian War), many of the Indian tribes who had supported the French (who posede little threat to their way of life) were in trouble. Then one of the complaints of the colonists against the Bristish were restrictions on how far west they could go. Had the US stayed as a British colony/possesion, it seems likely that the pressure against the Indians would have been a lot less, and that slavery would have ended sooner. Again we had the most advanced Indian tribes siding with the British during the revolution, and paying the price for having supported the losing side.

Seems that income maldistribution and plutocracy are all over the internets today. I just read a piece about Bill Moyers' speech at Boston U on the subject. Followed by a newsletter from Citigroup where they gave away the secret with this quote here:

Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.

Let me think ... what happened right after the Gilded Age and Roaring Twenties? That's right, crash, panic, depression, and the end of the plutocracy. So, HACland, I'm with you 100% on your rant, but just want to offer this: You're looking at the result of about 3 decades worth of incentives to reward the rich, and if history is any indication, it's about to end. Even without Peak Oil.

Actually, Goebbels was a discerning student of American advertising and film technique. He also admired America's own T4 program - via the eugenics movement - i.e. the use of euthanasia to get rid of "life not for for living".

HAcland, that is worth memorising.

"Capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich."

It seems some of us are smarter than others.

It also seems that the Devil is unbound.
I wonder how the smart ones will play their hand when the dogs of war are loose.
Will they be able to ride the nuclear tiger?

All you have to do is look to the 1800's in America to see what pure capitalism is like and look to Uncle Joe Stalin and Chairman Mao to see what Marxism or pure socialism run amok can be like. So what that leaves is systems that is capitalism and socialism in a balance and it seems that all we argue about is where that balance should be. Anyone that argues that it should be ALL socialism or ALL capitalism are nothing short of fools. I think the fact that neither the republicans and democrats are no longer largest representation of voters in the USofA says something. Independents are saying we recognize there is room for compromise and that we need both capitalism and socialism and extremists on both sides need not apply. THAT was the message sent in the last election.