“Bernanke Rides to the Rescue” assures an heroic headline in the Jan.
23 Wild West’s “San Francisco Chronicle.” Yet all the king’s men on all
the king’s horses with all their band-aids and sugar pills will not be
able to prop up the rapidly crashing US economy. “Fed Gallops to the
Rescue,” the corporate newspaper’s sub-headline continues its cowboy
The Federal Reserve cut its short-term interest rate by an
unprecedented .75% on Jan. 22. This is its largest single day slash
since the central bank started disclosing its policy moves over two
decades ago. Ben Bernanke’s cut and the Bush-Democrats alliance to give
taxpayers a $800 gift so consumers can spend the economy back to growth
will fail. Our leaders are driving the Republic to ruin—by their
over-extended war-making and by depleting our natural and human
resources. Other empires, including the Roman Empire, have gone this
Where was the National Guard when it was needed after the Hurricane
Katrina hit? This will not be the last “natural disaster” provoked
partly by an increasingly chaotic global climate. If Hurricane Katrina
taught us anything, it is that we cannot depend on this government in
the face of crises. It contributes to making catastrophes by supporting
polluting, climate-changing behavior and in other disaster-making ways.
Our domestic scene is unraveling, economically and in other ways. As
people get more anxious about their futures, the media’s propaganda
machine encourages them to rush out and spend, rather than look at the
root, systemic causes of the failing economy.
A Chronicle economics columnist reports the following: “A Bloomberg
survey of 35 economists published Jan. 9 put the odds of a recession at
40 percent.” Dream on. Once again, the public, which is experiencing
the recession, is far ahead of the corporate media’s economists.
Don’t look to our conniving government to get us out of the US’s
current mess, which is far more than merely economic, and could develop
into a major depression. Such futile attempts at quick fixes mask how
desperate the false US economy has become. It will probably plunge
further down, down, down, and perhaps out.
It’s bad enough that some banks are beginning to fall. As someone who
has lived in remote Hawai’i when the grocery shelves were almost bare,
when that happens to food suppliers on the continent, we will know how
bad the situation is. We will feel it in our stomachs.
It’s time to return to some traditional, basic American values, such as
cooperation, community, sharing, courage, and integrity. We would
benefit by moving from understanding ourselves as consumers and
investors to seeing ourselves as citizens and producers. Consumers
typically respond, whereas citizens can take action and become
activists, which is what we need. Producers can grow some of their own
food in backyard, rooftop, and community gardens.
“Monetary medicine” the Chronicle article describes the cut. Surgery
would be a better response. The bloated military budget needs to be
slashed. US military spending exceeds that of all the other nations of
the world combined, and we are still losing a war against tiny, weak
Iraq. This patient is sick to the bone, not just in the limbs; heroic
topical methods are not likely to revive it. A systemic solution will
be necessary—one that gets to the heart of the problems.
Attempts to prop up the economy to continue its growth are likely to
fail. The US needs to powerdown—militarily, politically, and
economically. (See Richard Heinberg’s book “Powerdown: Options and
Actions for a Post-Carbon World.”)
“This foolishness is actually a calculated attempt to bait, bribe and
placate the American public,” comments the depth psychologist Craig
Chalquist, Ph.D. “The people who came up with it know full well it
isn’t going to fix anything. It’s just one more example of the ongoing
campaign of psychological abuse directed at the public to keep us from
This fall will be far more than economic. As long as the US continues
to batter Iraq and threaten Iran with a pre-emptive nuclear strike, the
global economy that the US uses to suck natural resources (like oil)
and labor from the lands and peoples of the globe will continue to
fall. The worse is yet to come. (See Richard Heinberg’s new “Peak
Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines.”)
If you thought the housing and credit hits were bad, wait until the oil
hit arrives more fully. If you thought the brief stint at $100 a barrel
for crude oil was bad, wait until it approaches $200 a barrel and
gasoline rises above $5 a gallon.
Losing a war should be warning enough, though “heroes” seldom admit
that they have lost until they are truly down and out. The US’s
growth-oriented, exploitive financial system is broken. It is paying
the price of years of over-spending and dependence upon outside
resources, such as oil. The rich have been getting richer in the US and
the poor have been getting poorer.
Bush’s “go out and shop” response to Sept. 11, followed by invading
both Afghanistan and Iraq, has failed to stabilize the US. The wound
was more after Sept. 11; it was self-inflicted when Washington reacted
with vengeance, which may prove to be a mortal wound to the
now-declining American Empire. Washington’s bellicose actions expose
the US–as does its predatory financial practices–to be acting as a
wounded beast, cowboy style.
Our last recession was provoked by Sept. 11. To continue the attempt to
bomb our way out of a recession will bring greater disaster. Yet
Washington continues to rattle its high-tech sabers at Iran, an
opponent who would be far more formidable than the weak Iraq; Iran has
Washington’s Eastern adversaries may be wisely watching and taking
their time, as the Russians did when Napoleon sacked Moscow at the
beginning of the 19th century and lost most of his army trying to get
back to France. Here at the beginning of the 21st century, we seem to
have another empire in decline, partly because of its foolish forays
into the East.
In recent months I have read hundreds of article in the mainstream
media about the US economy. They do not make the essential connection
between our losing war efforts and our failing economy. To do so would
certainly not fit the US’s heroic Western mentality. The resources
being employed overseas to occupy another nation need to be brought
home and applied to our substantial domestic problems.
In addition to analyzing the current situation of the US economy and
attempting to put it in an historical and international context for
readers and students, I have also been taking personal steps to enhance
my own financial security. Readers often ask what can be done, so I
want to briefly share what I have been doing.
After 25 years of teaching college, in the early l990s I bought a small
farm, sensing an economic crash might be in process. Not everyone can
move to a farm, but those willing to return to the Earth and grow their
own food in gardens and with others are more likely to thrive as the
US’s false economy goes down. Here in semi-rural Sonoma County,
Northern California, more community gardens are being planted.
My main teacher in recent years has been a farm with plants and
animals. I wanted to study the real economy of nature. “A chicken in
every backyard” is one idea that I have been promoting. Not everyone
has a backyard, of course, but many suburban dwellers do. They can
plant perennials, such as trees and berries, as well as vegetables.
Rooftop and sidewalk gardens are growing in many cities.
Though Maine and Vermont are among the coldest places in the US, two of
my teachers, Scott and Helen Nearing, lived there and managed to grow
80% of their own food. In their classic book “Living the Good Life”
they write about how to do it. If more of us returned to the farming
and gardening of our ancestors, we would be better able to weather the
We need to return to a real economy based on nature, rather than the
current false economy based on financial paper transactions,
speculations, and manipulations by ruthless, clever people. Getting
from here to there will involve substantial hardships in the coming
years. We should not expect the corporate media to be very helpful. The
collapse of the false economy could stimulate more people to create