Written By: - Date published: 6:11 pm, January 29th, 2014 - 24 comments
Categories: capitalism, class, class war, crime, Environment, Ethics, global warming, International, peak oil, poverty, prisons, sustainability, war - Tags: AGW, capitalism, markets, resource depletion, sustainability
This post isn’t a ‘contrast and compare’ piece on the policy announcements of National, the Greens and Labour. It’s enough to say that National are pursuing privatisation while both Labour and Green are at least trying to do good things.
Shame about the reality of the bigger picture then.
Admittedly, I might have this the wrong way around. So with that in mind, let’s just say I’m going for the more positive scenario.
Market economies operate by way of profit. If something doesn’t spin a profit, then it simply doesn’t happen or stops happening pretty quickly. Two solutions are offered up. The state can step in and use tax revenue to fund non-profit but socially valuable activity/institutions. Or we find ways to monetise everything (eg – Nats so-called education policy) and settle for wrap around, degraded ‘user pays’ systems.
Those are the poles of any economy wedded to market (regulated/unregulated) principles. And we can argue the pro’s and cons of each scenario, or of some mish-mash of the two until the cows come home.
Except we can’t.
To borrow Paula Bennets’ phrase from a different scenario – ‘The Party’s Over’.
How over? Here’s one indicator. 31% of US oil and gas shares are owned by retirement funds. But we can’t use some 80% of discovered oil that your pension funds are invested in without ‘burning’ the planet.
Extrapolating the above 31% to apply to global fossil investment, it seems either we say ‘hang it all’, drill and burn the oil to get you your retirement return meaning that you won’t get your retirement return because the planet’s burned. Or we don’t, which means that a huge chunk of your retirement investments will be worth precisely zero (the retirement component of about US$20 trillion worth of investment ) and you don’t get your retirement return.
Nice choice, and I can almost see a future filled with the stunned tears of people protesting that they only tried to do what was good and what was right.
Want to throw resource depletion into the AGW mix?
Well, here’s a wee trick. Market economies are about market share. They just aren’t – not in any way shape or form – about market size. If they were, then all the people in Africa, South America, Latin America and elsewhere would have been pulled into the consumerist ways of life a hundred years ago or more.
So what to do when looking at peaked resources and market share? Why – you shrink the market, and - oops! – there goes any idea you might have had about reinvesting all of that US$20 trillion of oil money elsewhere (though your bank deposits underwrite any actual bank losses). So lots more people get equal status with countless Africans, South and Latin Americans… excluded.
Here’s, an admittedly quick, hodge podge of measures and indicators from across the world that suggest the groundwork for our exclusion is being laid in. I’m sure you can join the dots and add many, many more illustative examples without any difficulty.
‘Anti Social Behaviour Orders’ (ASBOs) in the UK.
Also from the UK, serious attempts to bring in ‘Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance’ (Ipnas)
In the US, natural life jail sentences for such misdemeanors as stealing a US$159 jacket.
Global internet and electronic surveillance
From Scotland, 3 years in jail for a stupid facebook post.
NZ cities passing bye laws to ban begging
Throughout the world, austerity being sold as reform that serves to remove progressive reforms won in the past.
The never ending wars against drugs and terrorism that allow the poor to be harvested for profit in private prison systems.
Wars of occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya…
And against all that, an ever increasing number of protests across the world
Anyway, avert your gaze, keep your mouth shut and you may, by luck, get to hang in there. Just keep struggling and scrabbling faster than the necessarily ever faster slowest, and you might get health care and welfare and a pension fund. Yup. You too can be a part of a shrinking, multi-layered elite, while the burgeoning majority (that you won’t be a part of, of course!) get their heads kicked in, or get jailed, or get killed for…well, the equivalent of planting a vegetable. I mean, never mind about getting shot or whatever for trying to organise people or some such. You can get murdered in some parts of the world for having the temerity to plant a fucking vegetable. And the dynamics of exclusion that play out elsewhere will be playing out over here, and sooner rather than later. Though, maybe there’s an alternative for the masters of the universe. Maybe they have in mind something else – something other than shrinking the market to survive resource depletion?
If not, put aside concerns over the possible effects of Global Warming. That (if I haven’t got things the wrong way round – a possibility) probably comes after the lock down/ lock out that most likely, due to the Pareto Principle, won’t allow market economic practices to continue and ‘civilisation’ (what’s going to pass for it anyway) to skite below catastrophic global warming.
So finally, I wonder if the likes of David Cunliffe understand what we’re up against when they ask that we all pull together to make NZ decent again, and whether they have the steel to see things through when international political pressure is brought to bear on the good intentions of their government?