Monday, December 31, 2012
Celebrate Arrival of 2013? Surely You Jest!
Many around the world will be celebrating the arrival of 2013 but if they knew what lies ahead, I doubt seriously they'd be in a festive mood. Yeppers, it is true that I am a guy who congenitally sees the glass half empty, but as many of my future year end forecasts have materialized, especially as regards climate change, I don't think I should be dismissed on account of being a "Grinch" or a "Grump". Indeed, as Jonathan Winocur once wrote in an AARP essay, the world needs more of us to balance the delirious, happy-faced fools who - like lemmings- are headed for a real planetary disaster cliff and are blissfully unaware.
Anyway, below I provide some of the reasons I'm not too enthused about welcoming in a new year that promises events as bad or worse than the last, and on all fronts: societal, political, economic and climate-wise:
1) The U.S. will continue its inexorable decline to a glitzy on the surface Third World superstate. Inequality will certainly increase and be part of this, with one political party so dysfunctional it's collective behavior now borders on the psychopathic- while the other party is so appeasing, pussified and corporatized that it enables the psychopath party at every turn.
Therefore, look for:
a) A terrible final deal on solving the "fiscal cliff" with sharp cuts in social insurance programs thereby fueling further inequality - even as the inequality -causing tax cuts are extended. (They ought to have been stopped two years ago)
b) Another diabolical episode of the pathological R-party's brinksmanship as they once more invoke the debt ceiling to deny any increase unless Obama capitulates to their insane spending cut demands (when I already showed - previous blog- they are the ones who need to face spending cuts, especially on defense). As usual, Obama, the mild-mannered gentleman that he is, will give in ....or as we on the left like to say, let himself get rolled again in a DC back alley.
c) Despite the fact the spending cuts are the worst possible solution, since we have a continuing crisis of aggregate demand, the Republicans will demand an austerity solution patterned after Friedrich von Hayek - whose own austerity solutions led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism. But we know that the Neoliberal press-media won't see this, because as articulated by one of their main spokespersons - Bob Woodward- they want nothing more than to see oldsters having to go out and work at the age of 75 and that means cutting Social Security and Medicare to the bone.
d) At the same time, major deficit spending (as done in the Kennedy years) to restore our crumbling infrastructure would be the best means to immediately spur employment as well as feed aggregate demand with those new paychecks. But the Reepos, under a Paul Ryan style mandate for austerity spending cuts won't permit critical investments where needed. They will demand it for the military - increasing its bloated budget even further while forgetting the lesson of history that led to Rome's fall: military overstretch.
2) Sucking up another enormous fraction of the national budget, and spreading its tentacles everywhere - to the point of threatening civil liberties, is the National Security State. (See my previous blog on how the FBI, DHS, etc. spied on the Occupy movement). Few Americans even know the extent of this, since the Bush years and the extensions of the Patriot Act. They should, including how our representatives have consistently voted on these issues. Examples:
a) Senators voted to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through 2017. This law authorizes government spying without specific warrants on electronic messages. The wording is supposed to refer to "foreigners'" messages but the law really allows ANY to be picked up and indeed saved by the NSA. Hence, it is hence unlawful as it violates the 4th amendment to the Bill of Rights. To give some brief background: it was initiated in the Bush years, then when a case was brought to show such overtstepping violated the 1978 FISA law, the Bushies -and a willing congress- changed the law to make the unlawful lawful. Got that? This law, designated HR5949, was sent to President Obama for signing.
b) Reinforcing the above, Senators refused to require search warrants for any government inspections of customer records held by firms such as internet service providers, credit cards and banks..
c) Senators refused to require minimal public disclosure of the extent to which U.S. citizens' communications are inadvertently collected in spying authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (HR5949), The law superficially requires such interceptions to be expunged, but absolutely no oversight exists to ensure this is actually done.
d) Nothing has been done to restore habeas corpus which few Americans realize was removed under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
3) Massive Dislocation, Disaster from Intensifying Climate Change:
Anyone who's seriously followed the latest climate research will see that the omens for violent storms, extended heat waves, floods etc. are even more malignant for 2013. 'Sandy" then was merely a shot across our bow. Look out for another spring replete with hundreds of F3-F5 tornadoes as well as continued drought and fires in the mountain west, and floods in the east, northeast and parts of the South.
Over the year another ¼ C increase in mean global temperature will bring us closer to the first 'year of no seasons'. The oceans meanwhile will become at least 10% more acidic than they are now and people around the world will see the ominous 'red tide' defiling their beaches. New, horrific breeds of sea weed will appear, such as I found in Barbados on my last visit, which induced searing burns , rashes merely on contact.
Tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and schistosomiasis will appear and become more widespread, even as flesh eating fungi, bacteria multiply threatening any who happen to wade in fresh water lakes with open wounds or even small cuts. a new virulent form of influenza will appear by September.
4) Education will continue to suffer as tens of thousands more teachers are laid off, what with states faced with flowing red ink from low tax policies. Poorly -funded state universities will have no choice but to increase their tuition yet again, up 20% or more - causing many young people to reconsider their college plans or settle for a community college.
Meanwhile, college debt will ramp up even more and the 53% current proportion of unemployed college grads will become 60%. Much of this will accrue from the austerity -spending cut measures imposed by the Republicans - in return for them allowing an increase in the debt ceiling.
5) North Korea, feeling its oats after a successful missile test, will challenge the U.S. in a new crisis, likely occurring in late spring or summer. This will be the first real test for Obama in a crisis similar to what many previous presidents have faced.
6) As fracking mania rages across the country, with little ability of citizens to fight back, diseases and illnesses - including cancers, will spread for those inhabiting the fracked areas where water supplies will be contaminated. (See my earlier blogs on fracking).
Want to go ahead and ring in the New Year? Go ahead! But don't look for me!