We Are So Totally Stuffed – Ain’t Life Grand?

My heart grows so heavy every time I try to think about what next year will bring for us.  I can only see darkness.  No glimmer of hope.  And I can’t pinpoint one thing, selectively, that I could point to as being the cause of that.

Could this be the end?  For me personally (because I can’t see through it)?  For most of us (our rock bottom, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it moment)?  For all of us (nuclear Armageddon or natural catastrophe)?

Or is it possibly because so many disruptions await us next year that they are inseparable, their effects incalculable and their resulting destruction inescapable?

I don’t know.  Believe me, I would tell you, if I had any clear idea.  I just know that there are so many acute possibilities for life changing/ending events accumulating at this time and any one of them, any grouping of them, or all of them together, could make life difficult, untenable or downright impossible for any and all living things on this planet.

The large threats remain as the usual suspects.  Those things will never go away until we reform our social structures and personal expectations and get out from under the regime of greed, exploitation and animosity that currently define us …but there is little sign of willingness to alter any of those things.  Maybe a little cosmetic adjustment here and there, but nothing materially affecting the way we live.

Most of us in any case have little or no understanding of how the way we live is endangering our capability to continue living.

And so, unbridled climatic reactions will continue unabated, transmuting from the merely annoying and inconvenient events that we have tasted so far, to truly terrifying, destructive and epoch ending catastrophes that will snuff out our lives like so many candles in a gale, through storms and floods and fires and unbearable heat and cold and upheavals in the ground on which we walk and the mountains above us and the eruption of molten magma from volcanoes and ground fissures and the throwing of billions of tons of rock and dust into our atmosphere to create perpetual darkness and winter, ending countless lives through asphyxiation or in agonising pain of slow starvation which could also result simply from extended drought and lifeless soils.  These things are not in question.  The trigger has been pressed.  The ball is rolling, and gathering momentum.  Like it or not, there is little we can do to prevent it, despite the fact that we are about to be asked to pay for massively expensive but worthless attempts to do so.  Who can tell if the speed of events will overtake us in the next decade or two, or whether it will play out over this century or into the next?  But it will come, and the signs are there for a fairly rapid escalation.  Only an ice-age will stop it, and we wouldn’t really want to be around for that either, I think.

And so,  …I can’t go on explaining the other major options for civilisation-ending events.  I have said these things so many times.  I can’t go through it all again about why.  Just take it as read, and imminent, and just think about how your world would be without money, job, home, welfare, health service, pharmacies, supermarkets, restaurants, any means of powered transport, electricity, gas, running water, telephone, schools or day care, police to protect you, cleaners to clean up after you, sanitation, a defense force, prisons, eyeliner, blush, waxing or tanning treatments, clothing or shoe shops.  And without hope of any of those things ever being restored to how you have relied on them (some maybe unknowingly or unrecognised) so far in your life.  Now, what are you going to do?  How will you cope?  How will you survive?  Will you survive?  Have you the will to survive?  There will be no anti-depressants, no drug-pushers to allow you a means of escape from reality.  It will be a case of get real or get out.  And real life can be extremely difficult without the trappings of a modern, cultural, society to molly-coddle you.  Enough said.

There is one thing though that I want to mention more specifically as being (or becoming increasingly so, in my mind) a potential cause for the darkness that I see surrounding the prospects for anything good coming out of the year 2016, and that is the prospect of global warfare erupting at any moment during the year.  The risks are once again very high for an escalation of such a conflict to the level of a nuclear exchange that would, or could, end life on Earth.  Let me explain the reasoning.

The United States, or at least its leaders, the ruling elite (as distinguished from the ordinary folk, who are mostly just like any other folk anywhere), want, plan for, and have the expectation that it is their destiny to rule and govern the world.  It’s a thing called US Hegemony, and everyone else around the world is supposed to accept that, agree with the concept, and live with it, like it or not.  It’s why they have the largest military force of any nation, bigger than that of pretty much all other nations combined.  That doesn’t mean a thing of course, because they know that they can’t move without the support of all of their allies and other Western nations not within their immediate inner circle, known as ‘The Five Eyes’.  All of the native English speaking nations in case you were not aware.

Now, that’s all well and good, from their perspective, and no-one ought to have any problem with accepting the concept of being a US vassal for ever, should they?  That’s a rhetorical question.  I don’t need assistance with the answer.

The only problem is, some nations leaders do have a problem with it, and will never accept the US as vassal overlords for their people and lands.  And who could blame them when they take a look at how the US treats its own people, where 50% of the nation’s wealth belongs to the top 1% of the country’s population.  Not only that, but the US has the largest proportion of its people incarcerated in overcrowded jailhouses of any other nation on Earth.  Not to mention that they tend to shoot each other more often than anyone else and most of them can only make ends meet by living off a food stamps handouts because they don’t have a means of income at all or can only find demeaning part time jobs.  It’s not a pretty picture by any set of standards.  The surprising thing is that the US can find anyone to be their allies or friends.

So, who are these upstart world leaders who will not submit to US Hegemony?  Well, the largest of them are Russia and China who together with a number of economic partner nations (the BRICS) are forming an alternative bloc (defined as: a group of people or countries that are connected by a treaty or agreement or by common goals) for mutual economic benefit.  I can foresee that as interest wanes across the world, in being associated with the US, either economically or militarily, this bloc could well grow in strength.

As it stands, if both Russia and China stood together to oppose the US in a military conflict, with or without the support of current US allies, they could beat the pants off their enemies with no trouble.  The major problem with that is that a wounded and losing US military would be very likely to escalate the conflict to a nuclear war status, and that would not end well for any of us or our innocent other planetary life-forms.

The US must be aware of all these facts, and yet they are so caught up in their obsession to rule the world as overlords, that they continue to push Russia in particular to accede to the hegemony that they see as rightfully theirs.  That is the reason behind NATO expansion into Eastern Europe.  That is the reason for the troubles in Ukraine and the setting up of a US puppet government in that country.  That is the reason for the bringing down of flight MH317.  That is the reason for them setting turkey up to shoot down a Russian military aircraft.  Goading, goading, goading.  All aimed at irking Russia into starting something.  Having failed to stir up a war over Ukraine, they are now trying the same thing in Montenegro.  They will never stop, until they get their way or until Russia bloodies their nose, or their allies desert them after seeing them as the lunatics that they are.  That last, may not be that far away.  But they may then become desperate lunatics, and such are pretty dangerous both to themselves and everyone around them.

I offer this article from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts as supporting evidence for my assertions above: War Is On The Horizon: Is It Too Late To Stop It?  It makes very interesting and revealing reading.  Dr. Roberts credentials to speak on these matters are considerable.  He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration and has a host of other worthy accolades.

This YouTube video also offers a useful perspective:

Another commenter, James Howard Kunstler, seems to be of similar mind. The Story Line Dissolves   I wonder what his year-end predictions will be for 2016?

And what of Russia?  Are they being pushed too far?  How much more pushing and pressure will President Putin and his advisers take before they react other than in the calm way that they have hitherto?  Mr Putin is on the brink, I think.  A renewed flare-up in Ukraine (which  the US has just funded through the IMF), one more incident with Turkey, a step too far in Montenegro, or even just a passing insult from US leaders, may push him that once too far.  I would rather he held firm and steady, waiting for the next crack to appear in the Western alliance shaky foundations.  European nations and Canada are already beginning to distance themselves from the US/NATO position especially in Ukraine and now also in requests for further support in the Middle East.  But such movements and weakening in bargaining positions only serve to heighten tensions among the major contenders.

Listen carefully to Predident Putin’s words on this short clip from his comments at the Valdai Club in October 2015:

“If The Fight Is Inevitable, Be The First To Hit”

A fight does appear to me to be inevitable, unless the US backs off.  But they continue to push for a fight with Russia.  They will not back off.  Such a step is not in their plans, but even so, I’m not sure they would have recognised the gravity of Putin’s statement, if they even cared to listen.

We live in dangerous times.  I repeat, my heart grows heavy at the prospects that await us next year, whatever they may be.

My slogan for 2016?  Based on the above, it could be any of:

  • 2016  – The Darkness Grows
  • 2016  – Could This Be The End?
  • 2016  – Hegemony or Bust
  • 2016  – Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’
  • 2016  – Clash Of The Titans
  • 2016  – A Goad Too Far
  • 2016  – Last Out, Turn Lights… Oh, They’re Already Off!
  • 2016  – If Collapse Don’t Get Ya, The Nukes Just Might
  • 2016  – And The Skies Shall Fall    (title of an appropriate book I am reading)

The Great Oil Panic

More on what’s in store for the world in 2016.  There are another three weeks remaining in 2015 before I have to finally make a stab at my best guess prediction for next year.

Here is a major contender for the title:  ‘2016 – the year the oil industry closed down’.  Think about what that would mean… then read this article from The Telegraph: Paralysed Opec pleads for allies as oil price crumbles.

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Photo credit unknown

 

A few guiding points to consider:

  • The world is producing 2 million barrels of oil a day more than it is consuming.  Now, apart from the question of where all that extra oil is going (the article tells us), what is not clear to me is why?   Is it:

a) the world is gamely trying to divest from oil use?

b) the producers are trying to get as much oil out of the ground as quickly as they possibly can before someone tells them they can’t do it any more because of the climate effect?

c) no-one wants to lose their share of the oil revenue to some other nation – profit before good sense?

  • Whatever the cause or reason, the net effect is that due to the glut of oil (the world is awash in oil, the quote says) the price per barrel is consistently going down.  It has fallen from a high of (can’t quite remember) $120-$140 per barrel a couple of years or so ago, down to around $40 per barrel.  It is predicted to further fall to the $20 per barrel range next year.  No wonder the oil industry is in distress and panic.
  • Most producing nations can only break even at prices between $120 down to $80 per barrel and over the last year or so have needed to sell assets just to keep up appearances.  Nobody can sustain credibility at prices of $40 per barrel let alone $20.

Over the next year, expect to see many bankruptcies in this sector and a remarkable fall in production.  In fact, if we are lucky, it may mean the whole industry packs up and goes home.  Of course, that would not really be lucky for us, at least for most of us.  Most of us would die.

Hmm… that gives me an idea.  How about ‘2016 – the year the great die-off begins’?  I like that one, but on reflection I think I would like to save it for another time.

Still, if nothing better comes to mind in the next few weeks…

Recession/Depression?

I have been thinking recently, as i did in this post, about how to describe the year 2016 before it actually happens.

I am finding it to be really difficult this year.  There are so many things that I can see happening in 2016 that I can’t yet pinpoint one phrase that encapsulates them all.

How about something on the lines of ‘recession’ and ‘depression’?  If the facts were not blurred by the vast amounts of government stimulus, using money created out of thin air, which, however vaporous will still have to be paid back at some stage, then it could well be argued that we are undoubtedly still within the recession started in 2007 and, due to the lengthy period that has been the case, it should also mean that the world is even now in a state of global depression.  That may become glaringly obvious next year.

184670688_recession_to_depression_xlargePhoto credit unknown

 

I thought about saying ‘2016 the year the 2nd great depression is acknowledged’, but that only goes to one of the possibilities.  A very real one, nonetheless.  One that may find its trigger event within the next two weeks (mid December) depending on the interest rate decision to be made by the US Federal Bank.  How does that work?

Read this related article from Inequality.org first, then you will see more clearly what I am about to say.  Ok, so it was written in 2012, but not much has changed since then, so it is still relevant.

Well, currently US offiicial interest rates are at 0%.  A wonderful thing, until you realise that the only entities who can borrow at that rate are the US banks.  That situation was designed(??) so that the banks would have money to lend to businesses for them to spend to get the economy going again.  Smart thinking, yes?  Maybe.  Except the banks realised that lending money to businesses, involved risk, especially with the economy being what it has been since the GFC in 2007.  They decided that they could still make money, risk free (because they had no outlay to obtain the money for what they planned to do with it and no interest payments to make on it), by instead buying government bonds for a guaranteed 1/4% interest. All of the risk was on the government (that means the taxpayer). Of course they had to lend some of the money, mainly to businesses desperate for funds, but in the main, businesses were not prepared to risk borrowing in the difficult times (and still are not).

So, if the Fed puts rates up this month to 1/4%, the banks have lost their risk free, free money, incentive to take more stimulus money from the government.  Nothing else will have changed.

I know that is simplifying things a bit but that is basically the situation. I can’t see US businesses taking on debt at 1/2% or even 1/4% interest to fund projects that still carry the same risks as in previous months.

This one point is, I think, the main reason why the Fed has so far declined to raise interest rates over the last few years.  Personally, I think that they already know that the risk of failure is still too great to change things again this month.  But who knows?

And so, the eight year recession, or should we by now be calling it technically a ‘depression’ in the real economy (Realonomy), goes on, with an increased probability that if an interest rate rise does go ahead in the next two weeks, we may see financial mayhem breaking out over the course of the next year as a result.

Either way, the picture is not good.  But, will this, a global depression, with all that that entails, be the defining event of the year?  More thought is needed.  I still have a few more weeks to decide on the words.