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Episode 86: Moments of Contingency

"C" stands for consciousness

Episode 86: Moments of Contingency



In this episode, KMO plays a talk that he recorded in Austin, Texas this past weekend. James Howard Kunstler addressed the Congress for the New Urbanism and emphasized the need for trains and sleazy waterfront flop houses for sailors. After that KMO plays a clip from a Thomas Homer-Dixon talk that amplifies a theme touched on in Jim Kunstler's contribution and ends with a call to unspecified action.

The full Thomas Homer-Dixon speech of which I played a short segment can be found here:

http://www.ecoshock.net/eshock08/ES_080404_Show.mp3

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
magicgravel
May. 11th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
wiggle room
while various middle eastern oil exporters may boycott exporting to some markets, they would still have the option of exporting to other markets. Whether this is for the full price they would sell it to the U.S., or somewhat less, that is one crisis that may not unfold.

The conclusion of globalism is that most of the countries the U.S. has trading deficits with have more to trade for that oil. We don't export metal ores, fruits and vegetables, or consumer electronics. We don't export appliances, we don't export cars that are easy to fix, or electronic generators that are easy to fix.
kmo
May. 11th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Re: wiggle room
Hi and thanks for the feedback.

I don't think I understand the point you're making. What you've posted seems like two paragraphs out of the middle of a longer post that establishes context. I'll be happy to read as much as you care to post, or if you want to post a link to something you've written elsewhere, I'll be happy to read it.
magicgravel
May. 11th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Re: wiggle room
Hello,

I listened to the audio file you had posted. It mentioned a scenario where a dirty bomb would shut down production of oil in saudi arabia. Western reaction to this spurred other oil exporters in the region to halt exports. Then banks started failing and riots ensued in cities all over.

In this particular scenario I believe it would be possible for the oil exporters of the Middle East to simply boycott selling oil to places other than the ones they are boycotting.

Thanks to globalism there are plenty of developed and developing countries that have more to offer in trade than the U.S. does have to trade. At least, in terms of material goods if not dollar bills.
kmo
May. 11th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Re: wiggle room
???

In this particular scenario I believe it would be possible for the oil exporters of the Middle East to simply boycott selling oil to places other than the ones they are boycotting.

Did this sentence come out the way you meant it to? It's a bit of a mind bender, but it seems to amount to all Middle Eastern oil exporters stopping all sales of oil. I don't think that's what you meant to say, but I'm still very fuzzy on what it is you did mean to say.

I take it that you're claiming that the global system of finance and transportation of essential resources (like oil) is robust and flexible enough that an event that Thomas Homer-Dixon would see as a shock likely to propagate rapidly throughout our tightly coupled geo-political and financial networks and initiate a cascading failure of essential systems would in fact prove to be no big deal.

Perhaps you're suggesting that the OPEC countries that ostensibly honored an oil embargo against the Unitied States would simply sell to intermediaries who would in turn sell the oil to the United States and everything would continue as normal.

Is that close to what you have in mind?

Edited at 2008-05-11 07:10 pm (UTC)
magicgravel
May. 11th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: wiggle room
I'm not sure how this is coming out wrong: I once had a similar problem trying to order a hamburger at McDonalds. I even grabbed the menu and pointed at exactly the item I wanted. the cashier still didn't understand me, and my Mom told them I was a foreign exchange student. Perhaps it was a mini-stroke or something.

onwards:

The global market for oil is much larger than it has ever been. I am saying that Middle Eastern exporters can stop selling oil to the United States completely. It is nearly as possible for them to stop selling to South Korea, The United States, and Japan completely. Because so many other places buy so much more oil than they did before, and export so much more manufactured products and agricultural products than before.

In the long term the only export commodity the United States will have to offer is wheat, timber, and coal. Everything manufactured that is of great utility or entertainment can be manufactured more cheaply elsewhere.


I'm not sure how the U.S. Military/Government/Finance complex would react to this. Probably with frustration and then aggression.
kmo
May. 11th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: wiggle room
I'm not sure how this is coming out wrong: I once had a similar problem trying to order a hamburger at McDonalds. I even grabbed the menu and pointed at exactly the item I wanted. the cashier still didn't understand me, and my Mom told them I was a foreign exchange student.

:)

The global market for oil is much larger than it has ever been. I am saying that Middle Eastern exporters can stop selling oil to the United States completely.

Yes, they could stop selling oil to the US, but in recent years the Middle Eastern oil exporters have been taking the billion dollars a day that the US spends on oil imports and turning around and, through the agency of so-called "sovereign wealth funds," buying up choice pieces of the US financial infrastructure. They'd be undermining their own investments were they to intentionally crash the US economy. Still, stranger things have happened.

I agree with (what I take to be) your larger point that the United States stands in a pretty vulnerable and potentially untenable position with respect to oil imports.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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