Blast off little rocket, blast off!
What a strange thing.
To be free we must fight, control and manipulate.
In expressing our freedom, we have the opportunity to opt out of fighting, of serving our country, of using our time and energy for these purposes.
The United States has been a mighty country for over a century.
We have a humongous land area. Gifted with vast natural resources, an industrial spirit and the good fortune of being located next to countries with no imperialist desire or capacity, the United States was able to rise to the become the super power of the world.
This was really solidified during World War II, when we had the opportunity to hone our militarial might without having to incur too much damage on our home turf. We used the war to stock the fires of our economy, relying on credit to pay for everything, and then, as the victors, forced our opponents to pay the bill.
The United States was founded by a bunch of enterprising folk. By definition, we were the people that were willing to risk life and limb, traveling across oceans and vast areas of land, to have a chance at a better life. Combined with our near cult like obsession towards freedom and greatness we had a population filled with driven and capable individuals.
When you combine this populace with a vast amount of natural resources and a rapidly expanding industrial capacity you get what the United States created ... a really large amount of goods.
After World War II we had 2/3 of the world's store of gold (wealth) and produced approximately 1/2 of the world's goods. We were truly mighty.
After the war ended, the people, being tired of fighting, took some time to enjoy the spoils of victory. The standard of living in the United States was 4 times higher than other developed countries. It became part of our culture to be rich, our divine right was the ability to buy what we needed.
Unfortunately, this wealth was fueled by two things : an abundance of natural resources and a large amount of soft capital in the form of our work force.
In the 1970's the US reached peak oil production. From then on we had to rely increasingly on foreign oil to satisfy our demand. We were now paying for our energy rather than being paid for the excesses that we created.
In addition to this, consumer demand continued to grow. Relishing our wealth and abundance the American populace began to expect and demand more and more. Whether it were worker rights, or personal wealth, our populace began to expect to be wealthy and would be dissatisfied with anything else.
So, what happened? We have an increased reliance on foreign goods and resources (which must be more expensive than consuming things we produce) combined with a drastic shift in the culture and mindset of our people. Going from a group of literal battle hardened individuals who had barely made it through the great depression, we now rewarded and trained our selves to strive to ever higher and higher levels of consumption, no longer creating (wealth that is) but consuming it.
So where did this wealth come from? Call it drawing on our bank accounts, our accumulated military might allowed us to interject ourselves into places we did not necessarily need to be. The worlds insistence on using the dollar for international trade offered us a humble income as long as we did not allow this negotiation to be wrestled from us. As long as we remained the dominant force in the world we could collect our tithe, pay for the goods our people needed and have enough at the end of the day to "balance the books".
The true dollar, the barrel of oil, being the currency we needed to control, became our focus. As long as we could control the tap of oil we could take what we needed and profit from the rest. If we were unable to control the price of oil we would surely be unable to afford our excessive consumption. Artificially low prices (not factoring in the environmental cost of our consumption) allowed us to rack up larger and larger bills (to our foreign counterparts who produced our goods) while we created less and less wealth.
We had become the middleman, no longer producing goods of our own but rather skimming cream of the top before leaving the pail for the next customer.
So, now you see where we are today.
We have a populace who, through generations of practice, has come to assume our invincibility and superiority. We expect a standard of living that is questionably sustainable and we don't want to work very hard to accomplish it. We have lost the majority of our true wealth (the ability to process natural resources into goods) and rely on an increasingly complex banking system to create "wealth" which we can then use to buy goods from others.
When our military was powerful enough to control all other countries we were successful in manage the world's finances so that there was more than enough for us and then distribute the rest based on how friendly they were to our directives.
Now, as more and more countries join the "superpowers" our grip on an increasingly complex global economy begins to slacken. As our control decrease so does our ability to demand wealth from other nations (IE: the dollars purchasing power) and we begin to have to resort to more and more creative measures to generate wealth and satisfy our consumers.
Surely a time will come when this vice grip truly slackens, our debts are called upon and our creditors choose to offer no further extensions. What will come of this? Imagine if this were to happen to a person. The bank may call to foreclose on the house, surely the car will be gone and the fancy dinners out will end abruptly as now restaurateur will offer that kind of service on a shaky, nervous handshake.
What will happen to our people? Well if our purchasing power decreases, (assuming our amount of dollars remains relatively fixed) then we will ultimately have less goods to choose from. Fortunately we still retain a large agricultural capacity, and have more weapons than anyone really needs, but our vast allotment of consumer goods will decrease. The loss will have to bared by someone and multiple potential scenarios exist. In one scenario the lower class bares this burden, losing the majority of their amenities with many faced with homelessness and joblessness. In another, possibly more far fetched, we all work together to shore up our accounts, consume less and return to some degree of self sustainability.
The problem is, we are not the only one to have stretched our dollar, or euro, or yan, as far as possible. As a planet we have come to rely on complex banking schemes, extending infinite lines of credit from one to another to keep the money, and goods, and most importantly, oil, flowing. What happens when one bank closes? Surely, like dominoes, the doors will slam shut one after another. The machine, coming to an abrupt halt, could be damaged, or worse, destroyed. How can we maintain the degree of trust necessary to transfer goods around the world based on a silent promise of numbers displayed on a computer screen.
We can't afford to revert to isolationism, taking our resources and converting them into food and wooden carriages, banging out plows with hammer and anvil ... our population is too great. Yet this farce of consumption and wealth has gone on for too long. We can no longer trick ourselves into believing a future windfall will pay the debts that we have created. Excessive consumption is leading to an insurmountable amount of debt, and we have passed the point of peak resources. We are on the downward spiral of a magical, beautiful, fossil fueled, trip. The rocket was launched into the unknown by a group of enterprising, and arguably greedy, but intelligent people. We weren't born on the ground but rather brought into existence in the midst of this wild adventure. To us, flying at the speed of light thousands of feet above the ground, the assumption of eventual contact with the earth is mind boggling, yet to the analyst in a far away room, watching the course of the rockets flight it is an unavoidable assumption that we will, once more, return to the terrestrial realm of the solid earth.
Without the ability to discover perpetual motion along this course, we will find ourselves buried, face down in the earth one day or another. Whether we spend our remaining time a flight working to create and implement a parachute, or simply gaze at the stars as the blast by, hoping to avoid too much suffering by simply ceasing to exist upon reentry, is a choice left up to ourselves; however, I know that one or another will survive this moment of reintegration into reality, and for the sake of these beings, I intend to help soften the blow as we land ... or at the very least, have a parachute of my own to coast gently to the ground.
It truly is beautiful, flying through space and time on the momentum of people long dead. Their trials and tribulation fueling my excessively grandiose lifestyle, yet I have been sobered of my own ignorance, and facing certain death, have, for better or for worse, gathered the courage to at least face my destiny if not work to rectify it.