Tuesday, December 7, 2010

too big to fail…


ever since the world economy took a kamikaze nose dive, thanks in large part to the rampant greed of our own wall street, folks around here have tossed around the concept of industries being ‘too big to fail.’  the prevailing wisdom has been that we cannot afford to let certain businesses go OUT of business, as the ensuing fallout would cost us too many jobs, crash too many related enterprises, or otherwise alter too much of the economic landscape for us to remain entirely comfortable in our  lives as we know them. the argument makes a certain kind of sense, draws you in with terrible scenarios that no one wants to see materialize, and yet i have to contend that it appeals primarily to our collective fear of change and is at best a weak means of maintaining a failed status quo, and really no help at all for our future survival.  nevermind that we live in a capitalist society, and are breaking our own rules of economy by bailing out failed institutions, what REALLY worries me are the evolutionary ramifications of practicing this ideal. as i write this, i am holding a copy of a national geographic special report on energy from winter of 1981 that chronicles our dwindling oil reserves & increasing dependence on oil that originates in the murky bowels of the ever troubled middle east.  the issue is urgent in its cry to INNOVATE new sources of energy and CONSERVE the ones we are rapidly depleting. it goes on to note the HUGE disparity of distribution of naturally occurring energy sources around the globe, and challenges those of us in the ‘free world’ to be responsible to developing countries in our consumption of finite resources.  now, some thirty years into the future, we are STILL grappling with the same issues, with little to no advancement in the fields of alternative fuels & geoenergies like solar, wind and hydro power, and what did we in america do? we started building monster trucks and rolling them down the highways, a colossal failure of wit as well as ethics on our part.  what if, back in 1973 when the US experienced oil embargos and long lines at the gas pumps, our automakers had had the foresight & the desire to come up with the next big thing, BEFORE it was NECESSARY? maybe if they had embraced such forward thinking, they wouldn’t be a struggling commercial enterprise in need of rescue, but rather a thriving one on the cusp of a rich new marketplace built on fresh technological advancement. why do we still as a whole seem to need an awful crisis to make us act differently?  and what kind of CRISIS are we waiting for?  our planet has a history of cataclysmic global change at certain points in our collective evolution. the very existence of oil is itself the direct result of one such catastrophe. maybe the dinosaurs became extinct because it was simply poor planetary economics to allow creatures of such size & violent nature to continue to exist. wonder what price there is to pay for something as simple as failure to learn to SHARE and innovate?

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