Archive for December, 2009

Copenhagen Fail

Did you expect a new environmental consensus to come out of Copenhagen this year?  Get ready for a disappointment.  It looks like the conference has essentially broken down before achieving any sort of agreements, and the outlook for future cooperation is going to require some kind of shift in aims and goals.

The primary friction from the summit was the age-old pull between the haves and the have-nots.

Much like the Naval Power Agreements following WW1, the richest and most powerful nations were hoping to create a system that would perpetuate their positions and advantage by limiting the options of the poorest nations.

In the case of CO2, the goal was to set the emissions of already-developed nations at a higher limit than those that would be imposed on currently developing states.  Quite simply: “We already have ours, and there isn’t enough for you to have some too.”

Luckily, no one from the developing world was ready to limit the economic opportunities of their descendants.  The poor are not the ones over-consuming earth’s resources, and it should not be their responsibility to fix the mess.  If anything, assistance by wealthy nations can improve the educational and reproductive options that lead to lower birth rates and more scientific progress for the species as a whole.

Instead, the rich saw an opportunity to sell intellectual property and create new loans backed by brutal government regimes and cheap labor.

So what is this CO2 thing really all about…?

Keep an Eye on Pakistan…

The so-called “War on Terror” is hardly over now that Bush has left office – in fact, it is intensifying and spreading across the borders from its original locations.

In Iraq, all eyes are on the Iranian border, especially as Iranian forces appear to have seized a lucrative oil field near the often-disputed national boundaries.  Turkey has made a few moves and is posturing to influence the Kurdish north, but they’re also a bit more interested in maintaining amicable relations with the U.S.

In Afghanistan, the problems of terrorism and fundamentalism don’t stop where the border with Pakistan was drawn.  Tribal influences don’t always respect political or cartographic lines.

As such, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to hear that the U.S. military has been increasingly active in Pakistan, Yemen, and possibly even inside Iran as well (in relation to the protests against the latest elections).

Instead of spreading democracy and building stability, the military interventions have disrupted a delicate and vulnerable balance of powers across the Middle East.  Yet while the pre-existing order was somewhat stable, prior to meddling, it was a fragile situation that forced conflicting cultural ideologies into a single political unit.

As the war continues in search of some new order, it will increasingly ignore the arbitrary borders of the Middle East, and more nations will come to be involved.  Intended or not, the ultimate result of our actions abroad may lead to a new united Islamic super-state – a sort of regional power not unlike the European Union or the United States.

Healthcare proposal has few fans left

After months of compromising a bad bill with corporate interests, the surviving legislation has few friends outside Capitol Hill. Progressives are now lining up in opposition to what has become a blatant big-business giveaway, and I applaud those who would rather do it right than rush to simply get something done.

Although a majority of polled voters prefer a public plan to help keep competitive pressure up and prices down, the Democrats can’t seem to get 60 votes for it in the Senate. Out of fear of a filibuster, they won’t even put such a bill up for the voting process.

Or at least, this is what they claim as an excuse for providing their big insurance donors with millions of new customers with little or no choice in the matter.

Not only will the new customers be guaranteed and enforced by the IRS – but so will the profitability. This is because the current legislation would continue to allow the insurers to spend as much as 25% of their revenue on non-health related expenses, including administration, marketing, and shareholder profits.

A Healthcare (Insurance) Nightmare

Congress keeps compromising and tweaking their “healthcare reform overhaul” legislation, and every step it gets toward the number of needed votes is a disaster for the actual American people.

By last count, the public option is completely gone, but all U.S. citizens will still be forced by the threat of penalty to buy a private insurance plan. Although there are some regulations in how these private providers can set prices and make their services available, the biggest change for private insurance companies will be that the government is magically coming in to swoop up all the 55 and older folks.

As Medicare absorbs all the older people, the real risk of the insurance companies will drop close to zero – at the same time they have a captive market of 18-55 year olds with little choice in whether or not they want to participate. Fundamentally, the young will subsidize corporate insurance profits, while also paying the taxes necessary to take care of the 55 and older crowd.

Unfortunately, all of the good jobs are still being held by the 50-60 year olds!

Unemployment is a nightmare for the under 30 crowd, and so many people have never officially become a part of the work force because they never got a job after finishing college.

I’ve had enough of this messing around – I’m ready to see Congress come up with a plan for universal coverage that doesn’t simply put pressure on those who haven’t yet bought coverage. If you want everyone under the government’s protection, go ahead and do it.

Just don’t dare force us into supporting private profitability under the guise of doing some great social charity…

Ready for the World Bank to Regulate your Business and Travel?

Word is leaking from Copenhagen that the whole conference is really just an attempt to give extraordinary new powers to the World Bank and private banking cartels. You’ll have to view the whole document here, because WordPress doesn’t seem to want to allow me to embed it on this site.

Not only would the agreement codify and institutionalize the wealth gap between rich and poor nations, it would also help to serve the interests of the ultra-rich within those rich countries, by giving them more direct control over how ‘permission’ for economic activity is obtained.  Those with little direct activity in the burning of fuel will now be in charge of rationing those carbon credits – and we can probably expect a whole lot of complex derivative deals that allow speculators to pull profit on the very foundation of our economies – energy itself.

Call us denialists or skeptics or whatever.  There are plenty of serious environmental problems to be dealt with in this world, and our fearless leaders are fixing exactly zero of them.  To them, the only dilemma that remains is how to go about retaining and magnifying one’s own power.

Its Getting Hard to Talk about Politics

The worse things get, the harder they are to discuss in a calm and rational manner. Indeed, compounding the issue is the chilling effect of surveillance and the paranoia this adds to the equation.

The polls have established that the government is incredibly unpopular – and the vast majority of citizens see the country headed in the wrong direction. But what of it? What are you going to do about it?

Law after law is passed; dollar after dollar spent. Those who resist the edicts are likely to see an in-depth and long-term prison tour. Simply suggesting passive resistance can also be interpreted as a crime in our legal system…

So for all intents and purposes, I can only advise that you do exactly what they tell you. Pay your taxes on time and ignore all those loopholes and deductions that the ruling class regularly feasts on – they were not meant for you. Keep your papers and registrations and permissions up to date and on hand – you never know when you’ll need to prove that you’re allowed to stand on that sidewalk over there.

Why stand out of line? Why separate yourself from the safety of the herd mentality? Its not like the future of an entire nation is at stake… Its not like the legacy of liberalism and the reputation of a government by the people is on the line…

All I can legally tell you is to obey…

No Love for the Government

Despite a promise of hope and change, Americans are increasingly disillusioned with the performance of the federal government, and they’re becoming increasingly pessimistic about the direction our country is currently headed in.

For the majority of Obama’s first year in office, his approval ratings had hovered above the 60% mark – leaving a much smaller 40% to complain about his actions or lack of actions (as the case may be.)  In the last few weeks, however, this number has quickly slid down to a much closer 50-50%.  For every Obama fan, there is someone who thinks he should be doing a whole lot less or a whole lot more.

And this highlights another problem the government currently faces in its attempt to legislate from the center – the voices of complaint are splintered, and thusly do not point to a more popular course of action.

Congressional job approval is now at about 27% nationwide, so just about one in four Americans is happy with the work being done by our highest paid representatives.  Unfortunately, this offers little danger to incumbents, because as unpopular as the entire body is, people tend to appreciate their own corrupt bastard.

So all in all, about a third of the nation is happy with the direction we’re headed in, and there’s not a whole lot of evidence that this direction is likely to change any time soon.  In fact, the momentum of the machine is intent on self-preservation and resistance from true change – but that won’t stop us from hoping for some kind of real future change.

Everyone is Talking about the Weather…

Ahead of the climate summit in Copenhagen, the internet has been abuzz with accusations derived from the leaked emails from global warming research centers.  Some of the world’s richest and most powerful are now gathering in Europe to discuss new enforcement powers for the United Nations when it comes to regulating the economic activities and legal rules for member nations.

Under the faith of science, the relatively young relic of nationalism and sovereignty is fading quickly in the face of a new world order, a bureaucratic, technocratic monolith glued together by a faith in and fear of a human triggered environmental apocalypse.

Voices of protest are lost among the crashing waves, the river of fate thundering down the valley of the old ways.  As the institutions have been fortified for so long, they will hardly need to ask our consent before giving up our future claims of self-determination.

Blizzard clouds gather on the horizon as civilization enters its own winter – the crisis is upon our door and we have hardly defined what threats are bearing down on us, and we’ve scarcely had time to consider remedies.  We may deny the sources of danger that are growing, but it cannot be doubted that we have entered into a cold and dark time.