Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A dinosaur on life support

Here's a neat illustration of how the Australian government is completely at odds with reality — I'm talking about the physical reality of the end of the age of cheap oil, not the "reality" of politics, which consists of pandering to the powerful interests which prop governments up.

We have spent the last thirty-five or so years sustaining the ultimately unsustainable, living in an illusion of exponential growth and progress. The smoke and mirrors worked quite well while we all were convinced reality was something you saw on a screen. As the costs of maintaining the system have risen inexorably so our hours of work have grown and grown and we have each become more and more isolated by the demands of our personal obligations to maintain ourselves and others in this increasingly unviable world.

And in this personal isolation which external demands force upon us, this increasingly private shell in which we all live, we have been fooled into quiescence by the availability of a multitude of cheap personal trinkets and thrills which keep us amused and distract us from our increasingly inhuman environment. iPods, X-boxes, internet porn, flights to Bali and most of all, the ever-new, ever-novel cars which for a small down payment and a promise of a lifetime of servitude give us, momentarily, god-like illusions of power and invulnerability. For many of us our self-image is so intimately bound up with everything associated with the car that we recoil instinctively from anything which might threaten the end of the automobile age.

So our government is now rushing in and saddling us and future generations with an enormous tax burden in order to keep this dream alive — something in the region of A$100,000 per Australian auto related job over the next eleven years. It will fail and the money will vanish into the black hole of catastrophic deflation which is now gobbling up the financial innards of our industrial civilisation as stock markets around the world tumble. The car companies in Australia are mere branches of the giants now thrashing in their death agonies in the bleak cities of the American industrial heartland: the money involved a mere trifle compared to the amount the US government is shoveling into the void. But it's not a trifle to us.

As the growth of the system and the population it has supported followed an exponential curve, so the collapse seems to be growing exponentially, swallowing our future at a dizzying rate. None of our leaders seem to have any vision of a more viable future or any idea of a way forward other than to crazily spend more and more maintaining the dinosaur on life support. And when the dinosaur dies and falls, most of us are standing way too close for our own good.

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