“May you live in interesting times.” So goes the ancient Chinese proverb. More accurately, this was the first part of a three-part curse.
We do seem to be living in interesting times. Revolutionary instability is sweeping the region of the world on which Americans are utterly dependent for the continued flow of the resource to which they are utterly addicted and to which they feel utterly entitled to consume without limit. The relatively peaceful protests in
Tunisia and Egypt have given way to violent and bloody crack-downs in Bahrain, Iran and . Libya Iran has just moved naval ships through the Suez Canal -- something it has not done since our stooge the "Shah" was in power. Time Magazine’s website reported on Tuesday that Libyan leader “Colonel” Qaddafi has ordered his security forces to blow up pipelines that provide oil to the Mediterranean region (as thousands of Libyan protesters are said to be marching on Tripoli from other Libyan cities). The elephant in the living room of all this is . The New York Times reports this morning that the Saudi Arabia Oil Kingdom is losing its regional influence to . The Saudi regime is thought to be far more repressive and hated by its religiously fundamentalist people than any other regime in the region. If that place boils over in revolution, or its oil infrastructure is sabotaged in any way, then bend over, grab your ankles, and get ready for $10 per gallon gasoline and economic chaos unlike anything seen in our lifetimes. When that happens, expect the "drill baby drill" crowd to scream for an invasion of the entire Iran Middle East.
At home, we have an oil-dependent economy on life-support. It’s an economy that is mostly based on gambling (casinos, state lotteries, and the financial markets), entertainment, debt-fueled instant gratification, planned techno-obsolesce (i.e., buying the new and improved version of each electronic geegwaw every year), military spending, and incremental improvements to the speed at which teenagers can wirelessly disseminate nude photos of themselves. Personal, corporate and governmental debt-levels are crushing and unsustainable. American politics is dominated by loud mouths, whiners, frauds and hypocrites. Our collective heads are so far up our collective asses in denial that we cannot even think straight about our predicament much less respond intelligently to it. Much less consider changing the way we live or accepting a lower standard of living, say, something closer to what an upper middle class small town banker enjoyed in the 1950s. As Dick Cheney once famously said, the American standard of living is “non-negotiable.”
Consider NASCAR. Here is a "sport" whose existence depends on the gratuitous pissing-away (at 200 mph) of the one diminishing resourse that is so essential to our car-dependent utopia that we're willing to invade other countries to ensure we have access to it. Every year, millions of people gratuitously piss-away millions more gallons of gas driving hundreds of miles to watch these noisy smelly machines drive around in a circle for three hours. (Can't one get the same basic experience standing on a freeway overpass?) Is there any better example of how far our heads are lodged up our asses than the wild popularity of NASCAR?
By the way, here are the other two parts of that ancient Chinese curse:
May you come to the attention of the authorities.
May you find what you are looking for.
That last one might be re-stated for today’s times as follows: Be careful what you wish for . . . you just might get it. Americans’ most ardent wish seems to be to protect at all costs the oil-dependent standard living to which they’ve become accustomed and to which they feel entitled. As the
Middle East’s fragile stability continues to crumble, things should get very, well, interesting.