Crow here with another report from the perch in susan's kitchen. Since it's Friday and she's a bit of a traditionalist I just got reminded of a weird story.
For two years, Larry West's company trucked fuel directly from Mississippi River barges to convenience stores between Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas. He didn't pay a penny in tax, claiming he was distributing "petroleum distillates,'' not gasoline.
The judge didn't buy it and now Mr. West is in jail.
"With the price of fuel going up and people getting more desperate for it, everything we've been finding since the mafia days, we're going to see that again,'' says a motor-fuels tax associate who represents state revenue agencies in Washington.
It could be argued Mr West is just trying to make a moderately dishonest living but he has nothing on the real criminals our society tolerates. I'm talking about the corporate types who have a charming facade but are basically socially inadequate sharks whose real place in life is mugging pensioners by jumping out of the commercial equivalent of dark alleys. Never get beholden to people like that because they will piss on you and then charge you irrigation fees.
My friend James Howard Kunstler says it better so I'll just paraphrase his excellent Alternet article which you can read if you want:
Personally, my theory has been that the specter of peak oil pretty clearly implies the inability of industrial economies to continue producing real wealth in the customary way. In the face of this, either consciously or at a more mystical level, the worker bees in banking recognize that, in order to maintain their villas in the Hamptons, money has to be loaned into existence some other way (than in the service of industrial productivity).
We've tried just about everything. There was the so-called service economy, an attempt to replace manufacturing with hamburger sales. Then there was the information economy, in which work would be replaced with knowing about stuff. Then there was the tech thing, which was about bringing internet companies that existed only on the back of cocktail napkins to the initial public offering stage of capitalization -- which allowed a few hundred or so 30-year-old smoothies to retire to vineyards in the Napa Valley while hundreds of thousands of retirees lost half the value of their investment portfolios. Then there was the housing boom, which was all about the creation of more suburban sprawl under the theory that houses (or "homes," in the jargon of the Realtors) represent an obvious sort of wealth, and therefore that using houses as collateral would allow humongous sums of money to be loaned into existence -- along with massive fees for structuring the loans into bundles of bond-like thingies.
This has all failed now because the racket went too far. Every possible candidate for a snookering got snookered.The important part of this is that the money is gone. What makes matters truly eerie is that the "bubble" in suburban houses has occurred at exactly the moment in history when the chief enabling resource for suburban life -- oil -- has entered its scarcity stage.
Certainly the political fallout of all this will be awesome. But it's not about politics, really. It's about the entire society's inability to form a workable new consensus of reality.