Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts On The End and the Five Hundred Pound Rat

If 9-11 and Katrina didn’t convince you the government of the United States is incapable of true leadership or positive action then the Great Gulf Gusher ought to do just that. The response of the government to 9-11 was to create the Office Of Homeland Security which is one more layer of bureaucracy to slow down action while doing very little except issuing color coded terror alerts that never seemed to do more than give the people on the news something to report. Worse, the government of this country for reasons that are still inexplicable invaded Iraq. By far and without debate the worst foreign policy blunder ever made, the invasion of Iraq isn’t over yet, and likely will not be soon. Katrina showed just how cumbersome and wasteful that extra layer of bureaucracy was going to be, and still is today. Very little in New Orleans has changed, even five years later. A CAT five hurricane will still sink that city, and there is still very little being done about it. Our government has sat and wrung its hands over the Great Gulf Gusher, and has done nothing else of consequence. BP has not been, and will not be held accountable, and the mess that is left after this will hang around long after New Orleans is nicknamed Atlantis.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor their industry had been on a war footing for the better part of a decade. Less than five years later that country lie in ruins and our economy was booming. The type of leadership it took, and takes, to pull a country out of an agrarian society and into the top tier of industrialized nations cannot be found in this country. The country went into shock when terrorists attacked us on 9-11 and instead of leadership we got Iraq. Instead of an answer to our dependency on foreign oil we got the Great Gulf Gusher. Instead of some great change we got more of the same.
Pearl Harbor, 9-11, Katrina, and The Great Gulf Gusher are all types of five hundred pound rats. Someone comes into your living room and tells you there is a rat in the kitchen so you take a rolled up newspaper and go into the kitchen to discover a five hundred pound rat. You’re going to need a bigger newspaper. This country was not overwhelmed by Pearl Harbor but since then we seem to be incapable of handling the rat. In after 9-11 instead of attacking the rat we went next door and burned down the neighbor’s house. When the big banks gambled wrong we gave them money for it. We sat on our hands and watched while New Orleans sank, and the government of that city let hundreds of buses sit idle.


There is no surer indicator as to what is going to happen as what has happened. Our government went on a nationwide the sky is falling we’re all going to die and be killed scare with the H1N1 flu pandemic. As it turns out, the sky was not falling and no one could really tell if it was H1N1 that was killing about the same amount of people flu normally kills every year, or if it was just the flu. Still, the government seemed woefully unprepared and had the worst case scenario taken place the certainty there would be some sort of viable plan does not exist. In case of a true and lethal outbreak things are going to get very squirrely, they are going to get very squirrely very quickly, and they are not going to get better until things have gotten much worse. This is the hallmark of American government, post World War Two.
Let’s take a very likely scenario and visualize how the government will march in and solve things for us. There is an outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 but it is as lethal as the strain that hit in 1918, as World War One was being fought. All across the nation businesses and schools are closing, and people are dying by the thousands. At the same time, a terrorist attack in Jerusalem causes the Israelis to launch an air strike on Iran. OPEC announces an embargo like the one they imposed in 1973. Gasoline hits five dollars a gallon overnight.

If this happened in January of 2013 and there was a newly elected president coming in, and there will be a newly elected president as this country swings wildly back and forth between the two major parties blaming each one in turn, but never learning from the experience, the new president is going to have to act swiftly and not likely have the power to do so. With Congress more of an impediment to action when large campaign donations are not on the line, there will be some sort of Dead Zone before anything at all happens, and in that Dead Zone very horrible things will happen. This country is totally dependent on oil as a fuel to get food from one place to another and if the price of gas doubles overnight there will be a lot of people not driving their semi trucks. Food prices will soar. The people in big cities will freak out because there is no food to be had there. In less than one week every shelf in Manhattan will be empty. All across the country there will be looting and burning.
Remember the flu?

How does a government go about quashing this sort of unrest without calling out the troops, which means using more fuel, and it also means transporting humans, who may or may not be infected, from one part of the country to another? How does the government feed it own troops much less move them? But a much larger problem exists because in the spring farmers have to start planting and that means fuel. The new president will have just three months to solve the fuel problem before spring planting is supposed to begin, and three months is a woefully short time to try to learn how to kill a five hundred pound rat.

Part two tomorrow; It can, and does get worse.

Take Care,
Mike

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