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by: Frank Mancuso

17% jobless rate! All bets are off. The environment loses. We’re all flying on this airship called Earth trying to survive in a system that must gobble up the resources of the planet to provide for the most people. But provide what?

India and China are American-ising. Rivers are damned, coal is burned, oil fought over. Everyone wants stuff. Stuff creates jobs, so what’s the problem? The more billions of us that are using stuff causes stuff to become harder to get.

America essentially became a super power because of its oil. Vast amounts of cheap, portable energy and enough of it for everyone. We used it, sold it, and invented products with it. We transgressed the world seeking markets cultivating people to become like us. They have. Except now the oil no longer flows from our land but foreign lands. The tidal wave of wealth has washed over us and went back out to sea. Many in the market still trade in wealth but the raw product, cheap energy, is evaporating.

Once it took one barrel of oil to get 100 barrels of oil; the ratio is about 30 for 100 now. Once it takes one barrel to get one barrel, then no amount of money not even $100 billion dollars will get us more.

Do we really want to create more jobs? Grow the economy? Build more highways? Revive the auto industry? Unfortunately radical thinking doesn’t win votes. Only jobs do.   That is the one little dirty word that comes at the cost of the environment, species, human health.

Capitalism’s life blood is energy, without it, it dies. Then what? There is no magic bullet; not gas, sun, nuclear, hydrogen, coal, wind. No other energy source is as portable or efficient as oil. It will be fought for more and more and become more and more expensive driving more and more of us to the brink. We’ll cut off our mountain tops, dig in our pristine areas, drill the seas, but cheap energy is never coming back.

I believe in looking back to the past to a time before oil. 100 years ago we lived without it. We may still have electricity if we learn how to rub magnets together without fire but that’s about it. We better start thinking about growing less jobs and more food or maybe just different jobs.

There were several times in our history when the manufacturing sector was at odds with the agricultural sector. The Civil War for instance.  As the population of the world doubles, food and water will be the commodity of the future. I’d rather eat than build a highway for new cars with no gas.

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