Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I guess it's too bad everything we have's inflating away...

Growth. That's the solution. To what you might ask? The growth policy of the past. Seriously. Just ask Justin Trudeau:

It's a clever piece of propaganda. It really pulls at the harp strings of the "middle class". Growth... *sigh*... it's not the answer, folks. It's just not, it's an impossible equation which can not be solved because it's not just growth today, or tomorrow, it's forever. It's infinite growth. It's impossible. I was reading some article the other day on how too big to fail is "worse now" (seriously, be more creative) and I thought it was great, detailed, until I got to the end...
Most important as we address TBTF, is having a clear vision with Hamiltonian thoughtfulness that describes the banking system best suited to a democratic, capitalistic, free-market United States that will function, survive, and grow for the next few hundred years. Once done, whether through the reinstitution of Glass-Steagall or some other legislation, our economic and fiscal house will rest again on solid ground and be prepared to flourish. It is imperative that we address the issue.
Just think about that.. grow for the next few hundred years. We have no fucking clue what we're going to do after oil runs out which most estimates put out somewhere around 2050. No fucking idea, and we're not too worried about it either. But growth? Economic growth? Loan growth? Currency growth? We're fucking on it. "What're we gunna do?"

We're big, folks, really.. really big. We dominate the planet and the space around it. We're having to look in the arctic for resources. We're here, we're all grown up, now. Growth is no longer a service, but rather a hindrance. It is the pursuit of growth that is going to take everything we've built and slowly destroy it. Cancer grows until the host's ability to sustain it and usually itself is destroyed. That's our decision, right now, do we grow or do we stop and reorganize our society to focus on something different.

It's not really a choice, as we've been covering here lately. De-Growth is already happening, the economic growth of today is largely one giant magic trick balanced on debt and future leverage, promises on promises on over-priced property and future wealth we don't yet know actually exists.

Trudeau's video is one giant promotion of a continuation of this system. A debt based economic system that is entirely predicated on infinite exponential growth and where low EROEI energy sources like the oil sands and fracking and the prosperity they are supposed to bring are vastly overrated while the people's wealth is slowly transferred to the oligarchs in control as they borrow themselves into oblivion.

It will not result in more equality. It will not result in a "healthier middle class". It is exactly what we are doing right now. Or claiming we're doing, anyway. It's exactly what we've been doing. More growth. Ha. I've covered here before how Trudeau just candidly admits the middle class missed out on that first run of growth following NAFTA and currency privatization and of course my favorite quote of his more or less reducing the struggles of women and working to cogs on the economic wheel of growth.

Personal income for middle-class Canadians has stagnated for more than a generation. This deeply troubling development is masked by a rise in family income, due to the entry of a new generation of well-educated, hard-working women into the workforce. While this phenomenon is overwhelmingly positive, we must be clear-eyed in understanding that it is a one-time benefit
Seriously, the guy basically chops up the destruction of single-family incomes as overwhelmingly positive and a big "phew" that women just happened to be there to make up for the stagnation of an infinite growth Ponzi-conomy.

Which is interesting, isn't it? That in his video he would say that "Canadian families are wondering why they should support a "growth agenda".". The whole world is on a "growth agenda", I've had enough let me off this ride. It doesn't work, and "the working poor" and "middle-class" families are footing the bill. Yes, remember folks, we have a "working poor". People that work hard and full time and get fucked. Everyone is getting fucked. No pennies around anymore? Yea, that's your cents, in your account, devaluing. You're getting fucked and Trudeau over there is cheering the system doing the fucking while crying a sad song and sorrow for the middle class.

Growth and balanced budgets? Not bloody likely, in a debt based system any balancing of the budget is just a transfer of the debt off the books and into reality. Decaying infrastructure. Alberta is learning all about that while they put on their happy faces and try to keep quiet the burning questions regarding the process and methods of the extreme energy extraction they so cherish.
The well bores are separated by several kilometres, which calls into question why four would fail at the same time. A more frightening theory that’s gaining currency suggests CNRL may have overpressurized the underground formation causing the caprock closer to the surface to fracture, which is allowing the bitumen to seep upwards.

Primrose is a so-called in situ oil sands play, which means it uses a process that involves heating bitumen in the ground to a point where its viscosity allows it to be pumped to the surface. It doesn’t create the moonscapes and toxic tailings ponds that have become the signature features of oil sands mining projects, but it’s also not without its environmental footmarks. At Primrose, CNRL, for instance, has been ordered to pump more than 400,000 cubic metres of contaminated water from a small lake contaminated by the bitumen seepage. On a broader scale, the enormous amount of steam needed to extract bitumen from in situ plays, makes the undertaking more carbon intensive than even the mining projects that begin by stripping all traces of the original boreal forest from the landscape.

The carbon trail from in situ projects isn’t the only worry. The extraction method may also be having more of an impact on the earth itself than was previously thought. Geologists have found that injecting massive amounts of steam into bitumen deposits can actually lift the ground cover by more than a foot a month. If this upheaval fractures the caprock then that’s one less barrier left to stop the uncontrolled flow of bitumen to the surface.

The proliferation of such unconventional extraction methods, as the U.S. experience with fracturing shale rock shows, can also have unintended seismic effects. In Oklahoma and other places, for instance, fracking has been linked to earthquake activity.

So far, the Alberta Energy Regulator has yet to deliver a final verdict on the Primrose leak, although it did recently move to limit the amount of steam that CNRL can inject into its wells. While the provincial energy regulator – led by a former EnCana executive and president of the oil industry’s lobby group – does seem to be suspicious of CNRL’s proffered explanation for the seepage, it has yet to order the company to stop injecting steam at its Primrose operations. The longer bitumen keeps seeping to the surface, though, the more pressure the regulator will face to do so.
I like Jeff Rubin. He gets it. He wrote a book, and did a whole bunch of videos, do you know what he called it? The end of growth. A lot of my reasoning is influenced by his work, such as "why high oil prices stop growth". It makes sense. Nothing grows forever, and nothing has grown forever. Humanity has, but within that history societies have fallen many times over each reaching their own internal carrying capacity or what could be considered the carrying capacity at the time.

But that was then. Everyone seems to like to say, it's no different now. But it is different now. We inhabit pretty well every square foot of this place. We're having to drill for oil in the arctic, other hazardous offshore, and utilize other forms of extreme energy such as oilsands and fracking. If "growth" is really what you want you support this. You support oilsands expansion, whether you believe you do, or not. This is where we're at now, folks. Growth is going to need more and more energy, at lower and lower returns, forever, and ever. All the while we will be cost-cutting, haircutting, laying off, "finding efficiencies" to greater and greater extents. We'll be rationalizing increasing levels of pollution and a gradually lowering standard of living.

Just take Obama visiting California to relieve them with federal aide. Sure he can reimburse them but he can't spend the water into existence. Growth isn't an option, folks. As a society we're going to need to find a new way to organize ourselves that does not measure success on infinite growth. There is no guarantee the surplus energy to fuel what we would consider normal growth actually exists. All of these low interest policies, stimulus policies, is to try to spend this growth into existence on the backs of us, and our descendants. This, ultimately, is what Trudeau is advocating. Jobs don't lead to prosperity, wealth does, jobs historically have always been the primary way to accomplish production but now automation is taking over.

The gift of automation is the ticket needed to move away from a primarily growth based debt economy where today the "growth and jobs" they are pushing is merely to keep the house-of-cards and status-quo going. Distorted market concepts like defective by design and the focus on automobiles for transit at the expense of more sensible long term investment in public transport. That's the "growth" of today. Marketing on the ceiling, on the floors, every fucking landmark owned by such and such a bank. That's growth and it's only going to get worse until one day a balanced budget means you spend nothing, and service everything, and there's nowhere left to go.

Trudeau doesn't mention savings once in his video on the middle class, the people that "only spend their incomes". The savers, the thing that makes a middle class able to be middle class. Because saving policy, isn't growth policy, now is it? But I guess what we need is more "growth" and it's too bad everything you have is inflating away.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

1 comment:

  1. Richard, we are stuck in an era in which politics has become utterly detached from reality. Principles of good governance have been discounted to near meaninglessness. Dysfunctional leadership for a dysfunctional populace trapped in dysfunctional times.

    It takes enormous courage and vision to persuade the public that there is a better future for them and, especially, for their children if we can slip the shackles of the unattainable quest for constant growth that defies the reality of a finite world that is already beginning to fall apart at the seams.

    How to convince people brought up to worship the growth paradigm that they can actually improve their quality and enjoyment of life if only they switch from a quantitative concept of growth to a qualitative notion. We know where we're headed if we can't make that transition. Our ability to control this social, economic and political structure that is so at odds with reality is slipping through our fingers.

    We either organize ourselves to adapt to the finite limits of our one and only biosphere or we will fail in trying to defy it. Yet our compulsion to extract and peddle every last barrel, every last cubic foot, every last rail car of fossil fuels just as quickly as possible betrays a lunacy that has taken hold in our body politic. We do these things without contemplating what lies beyond and the impacts they will visit on future generations even though that very information is at our fingertips.