Monday, January 09, 2012

2012 ... A Year of Change? Or Not?

One of the blogs I read each week is The ArchDruids Report (found in my Blogs I Read, to the right and down the page a bit), this week he raises some interesting points. Here is an excerpt, I'd love to know what you think about what he's said. What do you think will happen? Do you see things changing for the better? Leave your thoughts in the comments, I'm hoping we can get some interesting dialogue going!

"I’d like to suggest that when we take a backwards look in the early days of 2013, we will most likely see that that’s what happened in 2012, too: a slow worsening across a wide range of trends, punctuated by localized crises and regional disasters. I’d like to predict, in fact, that when we take that backward look, the US dollar and the Euro will both still exist and be accepted as legal tender, though the Eurozone may have shed a couple of countries who probably shouldn’t have joined it in the first place; that stock markets around the world will have had another volatile year, but will still be trading. Here in the US, whoever is unlucky enough to win the 2012 presidential election will be in the middle of an ordinary transition to a new term of office; the new Congress will be gearing up for another two years of partisan gridlock; gas stations will still have gas for sale and grocery stores will be stocked with groceries; and most Americans will be making the annual transition between coping with their New Year’s hangovers and failing to live up to their New Year’s resolutions, just as though it was any other year.

That is to say, nothing much will have changed, if by the word "change" you mean exclusively the kind of dramatic break with the existing pattern of things that so many people are predicting just now. From any other perspective, plenty will have changed. Official US statistics will no doubt insist that the unemployment rate has gone down—do you ever get the feeling that when the Soviet Union collapsed, the people who used to churn out all those preposterous propaganda claims for their government got hired by ours? I do—but the number of people out of work in the United States will likely set another all-time record; the number of people in severe economic trouble will have gone up another good-sized notch, and public health clinics will probably be seeing the first wave of malnutrition-caused illness in children. If you happen to have spent the year in one of the areas unfortunate enough to get hit by the hard edge of the increasingly unstable weather, you may have had to spend a week or two in an emergency shelter while the flood waters receded or the wreckage got hauled away, and you might even notice that less and less gets rebuilt every year.

Unless that happens, though, or unless you happen to pay close attention to the things that don’t usually make the evening news, you may well look back in the first days of 2013 and think that business as usual is still ongoing. You’d be right, too, so long as you recognize that there’s been a stealthy change in what business as usual now means. Until the peak of world conventional petroleum production arrived in 2005, by and large, business as usual meant the continuation of economic growth. Since then, by and large, it has meant the continuation of economic decline."