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We're Here To Help

By Al Schumann on Wednesday May 19, 2010 10:11 PM

I try to avoid actively prescriptive solutions to the day's issues, but the British Petroleum suggestion box publicity stunt tugs at my heart strings. I feel for them. I want to help cap the gusher that's destroying huge swathes of coastline and devastating the ocean ecosystem. I also want to help them shed other, equally relevant negative externalities.

Two birds. One stone. Use the BP board of directions and the management to cap the gusher. Stuff them all into the pipe. There's no need to for perfect precision—although that would help. Just keep stuffing them down into it and hope for the best.

Needless to say this doesn't preclude other methods or, for that matter, other pursuits (well said, Mr. Davis).

Comments (33)

We shouldn't ignore the bodily necessary contributions of any and all congressional electoids, staffers, hangers on, sycophants and stenographers who took money from or voted in favor of BP and its oil compatriots...

It's telling that not until rich white folk are endangered in some way (in this case in the comparatively benign form of oil slicks on Florida beaches) does an environmental disaster get called and environmental disaster--the 40-year and ongoing Chevron oil spill, flaring and dumpage of "produced water" in Ecuador remains almost completely unknown.


"FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher

-- a genuinely well-intentioned activist whose work I often admire, and who helped spearhead the effort to unseat Lincoln --

concedes Halter-top is 'no raging liberal.' He is, however, 'a Democrat, whereas Lincoln is a corporatist.'

To which I say, there's a difference? "

"..crafting a strong, forward-leaning foreign policy."

ya ya its that forward-leaning sbit
fuzzy-woggy folks gotta look out for


btw i think comrade davis prsents
a winning case for dodging the jack ass "peace in our time "
phone bank draft
but he hasn't yet found the basis for boycotting the ballot box
as an invisible non loud and public act
of passivist bellicosity

i aait that
but acts must proceed rationale right ??
first you refuse to be a willing rubber stamp
then you mobilize folks in piblic
to join the refusenik wave


too the soup kitchens !!!
seems to harness the correct goo goo spirit
to the boycott the phone bank
lesser evil vote vaccuum

gotta admit
i prefer

"less local do goodin'
more local hell raisin' "

stuffing corporate heads down gushing pipes
sounds like my kinda contact sport

more to my taste in up lift
the sanctual ceremony
of loving laddles
and communal kettles


the people down in equador know about it pete
ain't it their job to "rectify it"

lets bust the MNCs here on our own turf

humanist interventionism begins with
unsolicited metropole humanists
looking for a conscience bath

' may i help ' goo goos
pulling solidarity acts
up here for say
the good oppressed weebles
of st guffoolia
in ten years are supporting
smart clean bombings
to help the poor albanians of kosovo

makes patent sense to discuss the global spoiliation that is living corporatism
but to pull at heart sttrings only reinforces
pulling at heart strings

mephisto can play that game too eh ???

dejeuner redux:

op, no meliorism? if they don't revolt, let 'em starbe?
(b? v? i cud corect it but let 'em use ther qwerty's)
anyway in german it's a'most approproate.
(o? i? use yor qwerty)

Al Schumann:

Activism and political engagement are bugfuck nuts. They both fall solidly into the "no good deed goes unpunished" category. Good intentions are rewarded, right off the bat, with cold call fund raising duties and a worm's eye view of yet another corporate hierarchy. Successful activism is even worse. Absent a revolutionary change across major blocs of society, it's a sure road to bitter disappointment and in many cases poverty and poor health. We've got SMBIVANs who could testify at length on that.

At the same time, a complete ethical recusal is hard on some folks. In such circumstances, the soup kitchens, food banks, animal shelters, etc. are not too bad an option. It's not all googoo conscience self-stroking. Perhaps the vanguard should take up the Ladles of Revolutionary Liberation and the Skillets of Social Justice.

I don't know if Owen has kids or not, but I sure as hell do.

It's solid right for me to choose a life that doesn't:

a.) Provide them with a terrible example.
b.) Doesn't harm them directly.
c.) Doesn't obligate me to directly hurt others, to take care of them.
d.) Allows me to sleep at night.
e.) Doesn't expose them to risks they are not yet capable of facing.

And if some people think that's just me trying to feel good about myself, they can kindly sod off and go pose for the police in a "Free Speech Zone," and see how well that works out for them.

I've long tripped down the Marx and Bakunin road, but that doesn't mean I think it's wise, smart or useful to give princes easy targets.

I certainly don't see any point in giving imperialists any cover by politicking and validating their system.

We've got ten years of rapid oil drop off coming - and the military-police state is only going to get bigger in the face of that.

It ain't gonna be pretty.

If I've got another ten years of living, I'm not wasting it on getting Sestaks and Halters elected, so that they can "betray" me later on.

I'd much rather have the naked power mongering of Republicans, honestly. Let them run the state into the ground their way, without the cover of good PR. Either faction's going to do it, because they really have no other choice. It's raid the commons and end the welfare state - or get sucked down into the coming collapse.

Capitalists don't get to be capitalists by being nice. So let's have the less prettified capitalists running things, and if we want to work towards some alternative, if we really have it in us, perhaps its best if we aren't doing our thing under the cover of the death state.


"We've got ten years of rapid oil drop off coming "

piffle !!! and even if it were completely accurate and 5 years away
so what ??
the degree of police state
is a function of resource scarcity values

how many kids have i ??

why jack
all mother earth's
skin ape kids
"my children"

just don't let me too near any of em


"a.) Provide them with a terrible example."
what's so wrong about a terrible example ??

"b.) Doesn't harm them directly."
okay i kinda get that at least
in the physical sense
or mentally prior to age 10

"c.) Doesn't obligate me to directly hurt others, to take care of them."
indirect hurt seems a more important lesson to teach kids
the direct kind "they get" right off

"d.) Allows me to sleep at night."

lost sleep is good for your soul jack

"e.) Doesn't expose them to risks they are not yet capable of facing"
at least keep em accidental
unfortunately unintentional is no better
then intentional


"if they don't revolt, let 'em starbe? "

starvation prevention seems a far cry from the lefts duty to em
more for pwogs
"we are the world
we are your children " stuff
hardly needs a left boost does it

and besides takes no more effort to donate then to vote
maybe less
so go ahead knock yourself out
its time and effoprt the left needs most
the left can get goo goo money too if it needs it
what else are humane fronts for after all

I've started reading disaster survivalist literature thanks to Jack's writing - no joke. I figure I owe it to myself and my loved ones to be able to rely on myself at least a little bit just in case he's right.

And yeah, anyone who kids themselves into believing that a Sestak or a Halter is going to do anything but become the next desperate excuse liberals use to explain why their latest "reform" effort collapsed on itself - is just being intellectually dishonest.

I like Jane Hamsher and a couple other liberal activists, but at the same time they frustrate me. They seem to be so close to realizing that their efforts and political participation are all for naught but aren't willing to embrace leftist ideologies. Like they are right on the precipice and I wonder what event would require the raising of their consciousness to this reality.


FWIW, I might think that oil collapse is going to be nasty as hell, but that only makes me more of a pinko commie radical.

Atomization is a dead end, I think. We thrive from going collective, by being willing to carry a whole lot of people that the liberal state is about to cast off as dead weight.

Michael Hureaux:

Dear Jack Crow- on that point, we are as one. I never used to understand older black folks who talk about how they came to prefer the outwardly batshit jim crow people to our liberal "allies". But the longer I live around these new age liberal democrats we have in Seattle, the more sense that sentiment makes to me. Malcolm used to say in the United States, you've got down south and you've got up south. If you're south of the Canadian border, you're in the south. I'd rather be fighting with someone who is openly hostile than people who hide it behind Booker T. Obama's phraseology.

I agree with you about atomization however those people who are about to be cast off, as you put it are the people who are going to need to know how to live without the support of the welfare state. Many of those people who owe their existence to the surplus of oil aren't going to know how to live. Learning what I can do to provide makes that collectivization all the more possible in my community.


"Many of those people who owe their existence to the surplus of oil aren't going to know how to live"
i can't follow that phrase anywhere real ???

"Atomization is a dead end"
maybe so but we unfortunately haven't reached the dead end of it yet


It's my working premise that the dismantling of the remainder of the rump liberal welfare state is keeping apace with the reduction of available oil, since it is the oil platform which has sustained it for one hundred years (starting with Germany, but eventually enacted here by the second Roosevelt).

That the current global population is a surplus oil population, to the staggering total of about five billion persons. We are all quite literally sustained by massive petroleum inputs, and those inputs are about to crash.

Which means the state either reconfigures itself as a military-police protection racket for a much smaller set of beneficiaries, or it drags the capitalist class down into the heap with the rest of us.

It is my prediction that most of us who are surplus oil people are about to be triaged, because we are simply no longer necessary. Even our labor inputs are about to become redundant, since the oil-based agriculture which feeds us, and the petroleum fueled industry which provides us with weekly shopping permission slips, can no longer sustain our numbers.

The natural shift of the Dems from faux-populists, to open "creative" technocrats reflects this power adjustment, as does the scuttling of all threats to Obama's primacy.

Seen in this light, the German-English-French let down of Greece presages what will be done to Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, Eastern Europe and those ASEAN countries which don't follow the Singaporean path.

It presages what will be done in the States, under a number of covers, mostly counter-terrorism, at first - but eventually increased to include the militarization of the domestic drug war and an increasingly hostile reaction to radicalization.

Toffler didn't always get his shit in order, and he had the wrong reasons for the Revolt of the Rich, but he still managed to outline the rise of the superstructural class of capitalists who are very actively pillaging the welfare states whilst increasing their military-police capacity (under the guise of anti-terrorism, anti-piracy efforts, drug interdiction and the explicit linking of the three).

We who belong to the surplus oil population are about to discover that the rump state, newly transformed, is no longer in the business of protecting so many mouths.

And that its fifty year side step into "liberalism" is coming to a rapid end.



"We are all quite literally sustained by massive petroleum inputs, and those inputs are about to crash"

crash as in what decline by 30% globally in 5 years time

give me some notion of the size of this contraction

you obviously aren't talking road warrior here

but scarcity police state
here ???

in the metropole
i mean are we talking
soylent brown time ??

"oil is people !!!"

help me
with some ball park numbers
on both size and speed of pumping decline




We have added five billion people since the beginning of the oil age. This is not, as I state my way, the consequence of some change in human fertility.

These are oil people, sustained by cheap oil inputs, even at the periphery.

Extraction decline predictions range from 35% - to 50% by 2030, with population looking to increase to approx. 8 billion persons by that point. Which means the human race will add half as many people between now and 2030 as it did between 1AD and 1950, exactly as oil production begins to crash.

Extraction isn't the whole picture, though - since demand is increasing, and will continue to increase - and refinement and post production facilities are no longer being developed (there's no need for extra capacity, because oil really has peaked).

Once production costs can no longer be offset by easy extraction investments, oil becomes a luxury commodity, and not out of artificial scarcity (such as with diamonds).

That means that at exactly the point when the world's population is hovering around 7 billion persons (2020), cheap available oil inputs will no longer "underwrite" the global project of liberal welfare nation-states, because a gallon of oil (while still fungible) cannot be used in two separate places, for two different purposes, at the same time, and will no longer be priced for general consumption.

It can be used, from that point onward, either to sustain the living standards and power of a significantly reduced technocratic core, with a newly conceived state to protect its interests, or it can be used to maintain another twenty or so years of welfare and oil dependent mass agriculture.

Given who controls the various national states, and the international banking system - can we reasonably expect that the global capitalist class, which is linking up as we type and beginning the coordination of military-police functions, to choose us?

CF Oxtrot:

I can always count on op to go hiding behind statistics.

Bravo, op. Well done. I'm sure Michael Albert and Dean Baker admire that shit.

Now op can successfully triangulate the discussion into number-crunching arguments on whose data is better... whose analysis more "real"... whose "economics" more erudite and sufficiently insular.

Or maybe a little Glossy Karl will be brought out and preached?

So busy crunching numbers and following hard data analysis that you can't even see what's happening, op.

Bully for you on that one.


jack your very qualitative doom scape
reminds me of the charcoal peak
in 17th century britain

as to oxy's philippic
ending with this summary judgement

"you can't even see what's happening, op."

indeed i miss the smell of brimstone
that appears to be in the nostrils
of our comradres
caught up in the oil peak craze


Charcoal cannot be separated from Enclosure - and in that case, Parliament seized the commonholds and traditional hunting lands of the British peasants in order to make room for early industrial agriculture, which precipitated the flight of those same peasants to the cities, esp. Manchester and London.

The replacement of land usage - by a Parliamentarian and aristocratic series of fiats - really cannot be compared to peaking of a one-shot resource.

Given a wide latitude of conditions, forests regrow.

We don't have another five hundred million years to wait for new oil - and even if we did, bacteria and insects have changed inexorably since that period of time, so there's no guarantee that the base stock of material would survive decomposition and consumption long enough to be folded under into high pressure environments.

But, if you want, Owen - I can sell you some magic ponies who will promise you abiotic oil reserves which thaumaturgically escape the laws of thermodynamics and EROEI.

I swear they'll deliver, right after they finish building their fancy fleet of hydrogen cars and nuclear wonderhomes.


"Given a wide latitude of conditions, forests regrow....We don't have another five hundred million years to wait for new oil "

thank u for that pair of acute observations
and the brief history of the class struggle
in 16-17th century rural britain

my point had more to do with
forecasted crises based on a vanishing fuel source

(btw britain never returned to charcoal
by growing back her forests did she)

i must say fuel doom
does simplify
the progressive agenda some

but if simplicity pleases u
why not go the whole hog and cry out

"its too late ....
the end of civilization is near "

magic pony high tech grifts
have no purchase on me

oxy is correct i fail to see the fuel crisis as strategically signifigant
because the numbers aren't there

catastrophic climate change on the other hand looks
like much more fan
then the earths modern production system running out of petrol
that is
if one is in a mood for a corking good
end time story

Because, Owen, I'm not looking to simplify. I trying to take a sober look at the actual data, instead of basing my expectations of the morrow on the jocular myth of the bootstrapping nation.

And charcoal is still not oil. Of course Britain never needed to return to charcoal. It found coal, then oil. The forests may have grown back, too - but the peasants never returned to their land.

With oil, Owen, we're not just discussing a single fuel source, in competition with others (as coal, firewood, charcoal and whale oil producers competed).

We're discussing the input platform of an entire civilization. Everything it does and has, is because of oil. The plastics, the fertilizers, the lubricants, the fuel - all of it.

The British didn't put charcoal into the ground as fertilizer, sail their ships on it, make their payment slips out of it, depend upon it for medicine and medicine delivery systems, develop their dyes from it, use it as a lubricant, and employ it as a high energy, low cost fuel source for every means of transportation, or as a necessary component in the production of all other energy sources needed to run a high impact, high energy economy.

If you want to continue to compare coal to oil, that's surely your business.

But it's like comparing fiddleheads to poppy plants. Sure, you can put both into your body - but fiddleheads pretty much have no use outside of salads, and nobody is injecting fern derivatives into their veins, whereas poppy...

"compare charcoal to oil"


"Because...I'm not looking to simplify..."

no you're trying for a knock out blow
to a system you are convinced on some level
is evil to the core
and can only beget greater evil

i should have asked this earlier of course

how long have you had this moby dick
monomania about petrol ???

what ahab "turned you on" to it ??

aren't you at least uncomfortable with the singularity of it ???

obviously u are far from alone here
millions of "educated" types are dazzled by
peak times tramp of inevitability
the mage like " calculations "
of the EROEI wizards
the climactic symphony of weather changes
what a show !!!!
what a thrill !!!
---that in itself whispers the words
' warning will robinson ' in my ear --

the joy of a great menace in your cross hairs must be exhilarating
i suspect
even if you can only observe the great menace approach us
with no ability to harpoon it
let alone kill it
still it gives you a sense of deeper sapience

the taste of the " inner real"
a religious experience
to say the least

"no you're trying for a knock out blow
to a system you are convinced on some level
is evil to the core
and can only beget greater evil"

Wrong, freud.



must we invoke freud ??
i chose melville
isn't he good enough or is he too good ??

if freud then

so quick and brak like a denial hints at

deeply needed
repression intensified resistence

on the other hand if you mean
the wrong part of freud --which the comma
suggests as an unlikely reading --
which part then ???

Owen, you're arguing with an imaginary version of me now, attributing motives I don't have, so that you can dispute them as if you've managed some deep, psychological insight.

It's really much simpler - I think there's a whole lot of evidence for peak oil, and have draw conclusions about some consequences (within the time period of the Clarke Window) which stem from that observation.

But I'm not shopping for an apocalypse just to avoid reading your version of Marx, FOREX and monetarism into history.

If you need to continue to argue with that doppelganger, that's your business. But you're not disputing my positions. You're disputing positions you've assigned to me.


present your case jack

i'm open to any peak peek
in fact twin peaks or n peaks

as to your motive
who cares what u think it really is
just so long as you came by
your firmly grounded forecast
thru evidence and extrapolation
not saul/paul type conversion

we might have a fruitful dialogue

recall i've been hearing this ilk of
dire natural tale
since 1968 or so

from limits to growth
and the population bomb
smog monsters and ozone holes
to peak antibiotics

go to it
knock me over
just don't bring in
peak solar that time scale is
a bit beyond my operating range

Hot damn, Schumann, sounds like a helluvan idea.

And, don't forget... if the combined mass of the BP execs and managers isn't enough to plug the leak, we've got the four or five hundred-odd occupants of the House, Senate and White House that we can use.


A clip from a WSWS item for 28 May.

"There have been no calls from leading Democratic politicians for BP executives to be arrested, prosecuted or jailed, or for the seizure of the assets of the giant multinational to pay for the untold damage it has caused. This under conditions in which a decision to use BP executives themselves to plug the hole would receive mass support—as an option that, in any case, could only have beneficial consequences."

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