Friday, June 13, 2008

Road Warrior Cometh

The premise of the Mad Max series is a comb- ination of "peak oil" - the radical decline of this resource coupled with strong-man anarchy. May ended with emerging signs of the coming dog-eat-dog.

There are various signs here and there, and I won't even mention the increase in deadly tornadoes.

  • Baraka Obama's new economic policy director is Jason Furman, who has been close to Robert Rubin and other architects of Clintonomics. Clinton, Rubin, Larry Summers, et al presided over many a Road Warrior scenario around the world, Argentina and Russia being classic examples. Naomi Klein links the "shock doctrine" to right-wing warriors like Milton Friedman, but concentrated finance capital has the same effect, holding policymakers hostage and undercutting whole industrial sectors as money whips in and out of nations to arbitrage small price spreads. With the 1990s Washington Consensus embodied by Furman, Obama won't be able to resist the darkness.
  • the hidden laws of finance. Here's a short overview of the quasi-private way that a small group of unknown authorities set the LIBOR bank rate - a key international index.
  • ye olde middle-class high-tech foundations continue to erode. The Semiconductor Industry Association reported that revenue from memory chips "declined by 34 percent even as unit shipments increaesd by more than 30 percent in the first four months of 2008 compared to the same period last year." We can barely make money on more or less our best industry. Strap on those rooftop fuel tanks.
  • L.A. area hospitals were dumping poor, sometimes helpless patients on Skid Row, usually in hospital gowns . Hollywood Presbyterian got fined $1 million and will need to appease a federal monitor. Maybe patient dumping will stop. But given the state of LA County healthcare, it probably won't.
  • The NYT's front page for May 30 juxtaposed two stories: "For the Military, Ultimate Fighting, but with a Cheering Section," about how the military is using the human equivalent of dogfights to recruit poor kids into the military. Next to this: "As Oil Prices Soar, Restaurants Learn to Lock Up Old Grease": "The bandit pulled his truck to the back of a Burger King in Northern California one afternoon last month armed with a hose and a tank. After rummaging around assorted restaurant rubbish, he dunked a tube into a smelly storage bin and, the police said, vacuumed out about 300 gallons of grease."
Now you'll have something to put in your rooftop tanks.

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