James Howard Kuntsler: “I’m fond of saying that if America could harness the power it wastes blowing smoke up its own ass, we could magically escape our energy-and-climate-change predicament.”

Usually I’d place this on Diggeracity, but Kuntsler’s sentiment is so widely applicable to so much of smokin’ America, what the heck. (Kuntsler, Richard Grossinger, Lewis Lapham, and Frank Rich constitute my A Team, with Kuntsler playing Mencken to Grossinger’s more Swiftian disposition. Whereas Lapham and Rich are simply tireless searchlights of the obvious.

Kuntsler is especially razor-like in pointing out how compromised eco-advocates are given that profligate consumption is self-destructive regardless of whether it is high-minded or not.

Kuntsler. The eco-advocate community is still hooked into the Faustian bargain of technology with little consciousness of its diminishing returns, and to some extent have made themselves unwitting tools of the truly clueless and wicked who run business and politics in our land. With this particular group in Telluride, which was composed heavily of Boomer eco-adventurers (mountain climbers, trekkers, kayakers), the infatuation with ever-cooler adventuring techno-gear extended naturally, it seemed, to their uncritical view of magical techno-fixes aimed at “solving” the climate / oil mess.

It’s a tragic irony that we got so good at the advertising game the past half-century, because in doing so we rigged a sub-system dedicated to reinforcing all our false entitlements. So when the dreadful moment of recognition comes that we can’t possibly continue being a nation of happy motorists shuttling between the strip malls and subdivisions, the bewilderment will be monumental. Nobody will believe that it is happening, or have a clue how we got ourselves into such a fix.

Doug Noland over at Prudent is right: we’ve entered a euphoric phase of financial arbitrage capitalism with extreme Ponzi overtones, a pyramid scheme of revolving credit rackets and percentage spread plays completely abstracted from any reality of fruitful activity. The reason we don’t even call “money” by its former name anymore is precisely because we realize at some semi-conscious level that “liquidity” is not really money. Liquidity is a flow of hallucinated surplus wealth. As long as it flows in one direction, into financial markets, valve-keepers along the pipeline, like Goldman Sachs, Citibank, or the hedge funds, can siphon off billions of buckets of liquidity. The trouble will come when the flow stops — or reverses! That will be the point where we will rediscover that liquidity really is different from money, and if we are really unlucky we’ll discover that our money (the US dollar) is actually different from real wealth.

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