Summer's Full Moon in Capricorn Report
Welcome to the July 18, 2008 GlobalNews edition of the Satya Center newsletter.
Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.
Jane (Satya Center co-founder) says this newsletter is written the way I used to do when I was a writer at The Village Voice, or when I worked at WORTH magazine, or when I researched the Federal Reserve and electronic money for The Financial Markets Center, a public policy research organization in Washington, D.C.
I don’t know about that, but I feel this week is the time to try to communicate to our readers the gravity of the present world situation in some detail, since the big picture and the telling detail are both missing in action on television news talk shows, on editorial pages of major newspapers, and in the now shrunken news wells of upscale slick national magazines now more devoted to fashion, Hollywood and popular culture than to deep investigative reports probing the hidden causes behind today’s headlines, the unsavory activities of the upper classes, or the everyday venality at work in the nation’s capital.
This newsletter is devoted to news of recent world developments that are of great concern to us all. Be sure to read through the entire article if you can, because there is a message of hope at the end!
There is a global financial and environmental crisis as we approach the end of the Era of Cheap Oil and thus, the end of modern industrial civilization. The nations of the world are engaged in a dangerous game of brinksmanship and a quiet but deadly military arms race as the world realizes that under the current system, there will not be enough food, oil, water, or electricity to go around.
“Last year, the owners of the world invested $134 billion in the industry of death -- arms manufacturing -- a 45% increase from just ten years ago, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI,” reports Frei Betto in an article entitled “Food: A Luxury Item”, published online by AlterNet news service. If you scroll down to our section on news from the Web, entitled Top New Stories at SatyaCenter.com, you’ll find a link to the full story.
Recently a car bomb killed dozens in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the President of that country says that Pakistan’s secret service is behind the atrocity. A high-level Indian government official was killed in that terrorist attack. In response, an Indian minister says that India will not be intimidated from flooding Afghanistan with humanitarian workers, and thus in competing directly in the political arena with the Taliban, who are seizing control of large chunks of Afghanistan, especially near the Pakistani border, closer to their allies in the Pakistani Secret Service. Some in India now are openly calling for Indian troops to join the Americans in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, with hundreds of nuclear weapons, is undergoing a shortage of food, electricity and fuel, and a political melt-down that could result in either civil war or a larger conflagration. The Muslim fundamentalists and Al-Qaeda cells have seized control of Baluchistan, an oil rich province near Afghanistan.
Here’s a little history of Pakistan, supposedly George Bush Jr.’s biggest ally in the War on Terror. The Pakistani Secret Service nurtured Al Qaeda and numerous other major Muslim fundamentalist organizations and political parties in the region, using money from American spooks. The Americans were using the Pakistanis as their regional surrogates to build up the mujahadeen in the American sponsored Afghani war against the Russians. That same Pakistani Secret Service has been unable to find Osama Bin Laden, their old friend, who is said to be hiding in their country. And the Pakistan military machine is confronting India in Afghanistan in a kind of soft warfare that does not yet involve Indian troops, but has the potential to escalate hostilities between the two countries.
Meanwhile American troops are massing on the Afgahani side of the Pakistani border and the Afghan President calls Pakistan the true enemy in the War on Terror. Both US Presidential candidates would undoubtedly like to send more troops to Afghanistan, but Obama is more vocal about the notion by far. Obama feels that the Afghani-Pakistan border region, where Osama bin Laden is said to be hiding, is the true frontline in the War on Terror and that Iraq has been a huge tactical error in that war, a huge waste of blood and treasure.
In a nuclear war, both India and Pakistan would definitely lose major cities. A nuclear missile launched by either side can hit the enemy’s major cities in about fifteen minutes. Yet India is using Russian equipment to build a nuclear submarine based strike force for use in the event of a war with Pakistan. This insures that even if Pakistan indulges in a first strike, Pakistan will be destroyed by missiles launched from land and sea. However India already possesses the capability to launch a second strike that would destroy all major cities in Pakistan.
American Presidential candidates are debating which war they should fight, or which wars, I should say. Iraq or Afghanistan? Is Pakistan next? What about Iran? Real men go to Iran. “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”, Senator McCain sang, to the tune of the ancient Beach Boys tune “Barbara Ann”.
Israeli Hawks are openly bragging of preparations for a “first-strike” against Iran in the event that America passes on staging a war with its old Middle East Nemesis.
Over 1,000,000 Iraqis have died in the current war waged by America. This is all just business as usual in a world that is about to be utterly transformed in ways that are ultimately quite beyond the control of any world power, nation-state, political figure, or economic class. We are in a truly global crisis, and every one of us will be impacted. Every one of us has a part to play in helping to resolve the crisis. War is not the answer.
The world outside the Middle East is also full of bellicose behavior by dubious political strongmen with dreams of glory.
Gypsies are being arrested and deported from Italy. The Fascist salute is presented by throngs of Roman citizens to their new Mayor, a good ally of President Berlusconi.
Zimbabwe is having a bloody civil war, and it’s a humanitarian disaster. Sudan’s President is being charged with war crimes.
Millions upon millions die, and occasionally a political leader from a small Third World country is accused of war crimes, but war is very popular on planet Earth.
War is the default mode we have collectively chosen as human beings to resolve our conflicts, especially conflicts concerning resources, land, wealth, and power.
Let us recall that our modern civilization is a civilization based upon a war of all against all for control of inexpensive hydrocarbon resources, which are absolutely essential for both military conquest and economic development. The last hundred years has seen nearly every advanced nation in the world embark upon a futile attempt to create a global Empire that would yield very inexpensive commodities, new markets, and cheap labor.
England, France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Japan, China, America, and Germany have all created international Empires during the Industrial Age. Many of these Empires long ago disappeared into the dustbin of history.All these countries have recentlyengaged in wars that were designed to enable the expansion of their influence, their wealth, their culture, their power and their ideology around the world.
For those of us in America, the dominant economic and military power for much of the last century, permanent war has been institutionalized in an increasingly repressive national security state. Over the last hundred years, America has fought World War I, World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Yugoslavian War, The First Iraq War, The Second Iraq War, and The Afghanistan War, and America is involved now in what its political elites from both political parties describe as a “never-ending” Global War on Terror, with not one or two but an infinite number of fronts, located in every country of the world, and in every city in America itself.
The American Empire reached a position of seemingly unchallengeable hegemony in the Nineties, and the entire world copied American financial markets, American politics, and American economic policies. This was called “globalization”.
America spends $1 trillion a year to arm, feed, equip, fuel and house its military machine and its far-flung network of hundreds of military bases in dozens of countries around the world. America spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined.
America’s military goal in the early Twenty-First Century is even more grandiose than ever before. America’s military intends to achieve unchallengeable global dominance on land, in the air, on the sea, and in outer space. Uncle Sam as “global policeman”. For the world’s own good. Kind of like John Wayne playing a rugged slow-talking, quick-trigger Sheriff in a shoot-em-up Sunday matinee.
For the American Empire, that implies the ability to fight several major wars at the same time in different parts of the world, all the while maintaining low-intensity conflicts and covert operations designed to shape governments in dozens of other countries simultaneously.
Part of the job of the global “policeman”, as Uncle Sam sees it, is to control the world’s oil supplies and markets. Every President from Carter to Bush II has explicitly stated that what happens in the global oilpatch constitutes a vital strategic interest of the United States, which America will protect with the full weight of its military forces.
The price of oil has long been set in American financial markets. People pay for oil with American dollars. American bases and aircraft carriers dot the landscape in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea Region, the two most vital oil and gas producing areas of the world. American spooks and their well-paid local proxies fund local political parties, politicians and religious leaders, then sell guns in the same area to American surrogates. Americans pay roughly $5 per gallon of gas they buy in federal taxes to pay for the American military presence in those key regions of the world.
The fact that the American dollar is the currency of choice in oil markets rests upon American control of global oil resources as much as upon the world’s perception of the American dollar as a desirable medium of exchange and a desirable form in which to store their wealth.The American dollar has become the global currency par excellence because the world perceived dollars as a monetary “safe haven”, guaranteed by the strongest and most trustworthy government in the world.
In addition, America provided the necessary institutional framework to make the dollar a desirable global currency. American-designed international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund provide safety and soundness oversight and regulation for governments around the world, shaping government policies of debtor nations who need emergency liquidity from the IMF and World Bank.
In every case, the IMF and World Bank recommend that debtor nations adopt industrial agriculture, neo-liberal economic policy, privatization of nationally owned utilities, companies and resources, shredding of the social safety net, and deregulation – especially financial deregulation. This set of prescriptions became known as “The Washington Consensus”, and is the conventional wisdom that has prevailed in Washington since Ronald Reagan, with only brief deviations from the true faith.
In addition to providing the world with a “global policeman”, a dollar based financial system, and a political and economic model based upon the principles of Reaganomics, America also agrees to open its borders to the rest of the world’s goods and services, to act as a kind of “buyer of last resort”. America in fact borrows money from manufacturing countries to pay for their products. This allows other countries to ramp up exports and rack up more export driven profits to recycle into dollar denominated Treasury bonds.
The rest of the world has agreed since the 1970s to lend America money in exchange for the privilege of using the dollar based global economic system.
Countries with huge cash reserves exceeding their debts are large global savers, like the Chinese and Japanese central banks. These foreign bankers and governments have for decades bought American treasury notes and hold dollars in their accounts, and this provides the liquidity America needs to keep its perpetual motion global financial casino, centered in Wall Street, churning out profits by lending out money at extremely low rates to both credit-worthy and high-risk borrowers alike, creating giant stock market, credit, and real estate bubbles one after another, bubbles made possible because the entire country is floating in a sea of cheap borrowed money. So people no longer save money to buy things, instead they borrow money against the value of assets inflating during the upside of the financial roller coaster ride we call the business cycle.
The system depends upon American military success, the value of the dollar and the current currency regime and continuing economic expansion in America to support the debt payments that constitute the base of the vast pyramid of dozens of trillions of dollars worth of paper and digital transactions that exist in cyberspace, tracked in financial markets around the world 24/7, 365 days a year.
Now all the foundations of American hegemony are being weakened and undermined by global tsunamis of change, and a global environmental crisis is simultaneously arising.
The Prime Minister of Iraq has asked the Americans to set a firm timetable for withdrawal of American forces. America is losing the war in Afghanistan, by its own admission, and both Presidential contenders want to send more troops into that troubled area. Meanwhile, the Indian government ponders its options. Will it send some troops too?Will combined India-US forces then find themselves launching strikes into Pakistan?
The entire Bretton Woods II currency regime that began under Richard Nixon in the 1970s, which we described above as the “Washington Consensus” is coming unraveled. The American and European Central Banks are following completely opposed policies instead of co-ordinating their activities. Financial markets have collapsed in several countries, including Vietnam and India, where shortages of food and energy are rampant. The dollar’s decline shows no signs of reversing course, and the Fed cannot raise interest rates to stop that decline without causing a stock market crash. Here at Satya Center, where we sell crystals, gems and mineral specimens, we have been told by Brazilian and Indian suppliers that we must now pay in Euros because they don’t want our deflated dollars.
Professor Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the current financial markets meltdown nearly two years ago, and whom we here at Satya Center have followed for longer than that, has a new prediction. Roubini now predicts that over $2 trillion will be required to clean up the mess in the mortgage markets.
Roubini also predicts that hundreds of banks will fail, that all major Wall Street securities firms will fail or be merged into banks, since the Federal Reserve, which insures banks, is already being forced to offer Wall Street firms huge bailouts, and if they have to do more deals like the Bear Stearns $50 billion bailout, they will want to put the Wall Street firms inside their own regulatory framework, where they can best oversee the restructuring of the financial industry.
Millions of American homes are in foreclosure, the unemployment numbers are awful, and the entire global financial system is collapsing in slow motion. None of America’s political leaders will discuss the severity of the problem, because this is an election year, and both parties are implicated in this awful bi-partisan mess.
Bush’s policies over eight years have produced the most anemic economy since Herbert Hoover, but it was Bill Clinton who deregulated America’s banks and encouraged the creation of the mortgage backed securities industry.
America’s economic expansion is in the tank, and there is no sign of the next financial bubble on the horizon in this country. Sure commodities, grains, and oil and gas are rising rapidly in value, and there are signs of a speculative bubble emerging in this sector. But consumers have no money to spend. Hundreds of municipalities and maybe even entire states, like California and Florida, may go bankrupt and have to entirely rearrange their menu of public services, tax codes, hiring policies, and so forth.
There go those pension plans that baby boomers worked so hard to earn.
Look at the traders on Wall Street, and in Mumbai, and in London, and in Saigon, and in Hong Kong, and at terminals and iPhones all over the world, transacting 24/7. They have created the largest global financial crisis since the Great Depression, and thanks to its timing, perhaps the most scary and potentially disastrous crisis in the last several hundred years. Because it is a global crisis, and it is a crisis of all existing financial markets and institutions. Thus it is an ideological crisis and a crisis of public confidence. Only a new ideology and a new economic and political model can resolve the crisis.
So maybe deregulation wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe Reagonomics didn’t deliver heaven on earth. We’ve tried these ideas now for twenty-eight years and they have not worked.
Smart, rich people around the world know they have not worked. People in Latin America are creating their own international bank and lender of last resort. They have had enough of the IMF and World Bank.
Europe, China, India and America are all experiencing financial market meltdowns and economic slowdowns simultaneously after following neo-liberal Washington Consensus policies for years.
The European Central Bank is raising interest rates, sending the euro soaring while the Fed is keeping interest rates extremely low to help their friends on Wall Street and in the big banks. This keeps the dollar in a tailspin.
And this means that the euro is increasingly looking like a safer and sounder currency alternative to the dollar. All smart investors are diversified far beyond American stocks in American companies, and holdings in American treasury bonds and liquid dollars.
So someone needs to come up with an entirely new financial system, and convince everybody to back the dollar, because if the dollar loses out to the euro, then America goes bankrupt, essentially. The dollar becomes a peso currency and we owe the world our children for the next ten generations or so.
And the foundation for the new financial world order will be a bailout that makes all other bailouts look puny. A financial bailout that will help only the wealthy and no one else. A financial bailout that will cost more than the entire Iraq war, before it’s all over.
And it’s an emergency. And that money is spent. That dog has left the house.
So we are talking several trillion dollars of American taxpayers’ dollars to restore the global financial system to health in what will become the Mother of all financial bailouts!
[For more details see the article by Nouriel Roubini in our news roundup of links to cool stories called Top New Stories at SatyaCenter.com. Just scroll down until you find the link.]
View from the White House, 2009
So, looking forward into the next President’s early days in the White House in winter 2009, we can imagine that individual sitting at a table pondering the legacy of George Bush, Jr., surrounded by his advisors -- men and women who all employ large armies of bright thinkers hunched over blue screens filled with spreadsheets, which, when read in sequence, all terminate in a rather grim end result best captured in the color red, as in red ink, blood red, red as in STOP.
We are talking $1 trillion a year for current military expenditures. Both Presidential candidates are now zeroing in on Afghanistan and by extension, the Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistan. The Brookings Institution, a bi-partisan Washington think-tank estimates that it would take an army of 1,000,000 men to successfully invade and “pacify” Pakistan. That’s assuming these extremely hard-nosed belligerently nationalistic Pakistani generals, who control their country’s economy and political system completely, just sit on their hands and totally fail to use their vast arsenal of nuclear weapons during the proposed American war of pacification to restore “democracy” in Pakistan.
An expanded war in Afghanistan – and Pakistan – would cost much more in terms of money and troops than the Iraq war. Several times more money and several times more troops. America has neither blood nor treasure to spare.
So we need maybe a couple trillion extra there.
We need two trillion to bail out the financial giants who created the mortgage mess.
We need a couple trillion to repair our degraded infrastructure and restore the wetlands in Florida, California, and the Gulf Coast to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.
We need a trillion or so to deal with the fallout from the financial dominoes that fell since mid-2008. Now we know that hundreds of banks, all the big Wall Street firms, many S&Ls, many monoline bond insurance companies, and other little known behemoths of the financial services industry are all lined up for bail-outs and that unforgiving financial markets have discovered that without government assistance they will collapse.
Oh, yeah, there’s the trillion or so to rescue Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the losses on the real estate they are holding – some $50 trillion or so of paper on burst bubble real estate.
Where are we now? George Bush’s legacy. People want to buy and sell oil, crystals, gems, jewelry and other commodities in euros – not in dollars. And the dollar is still in free fall, so prices of anything imported and all prime commodities like oil, gas, grains, metals, are rising rapidly.
So unemployment is up and the recession is on.
And how many trillion extra did we need to pay George’s big war tab and fix the global economy?
I dunno, 5-8 trillion. It depends on if you invade Pakistan, and if you really want to any of that rebuilding stuff or saving birds stuff, right?
So, is the US broke yet? Is the dollar still the world’s preferred currency? Because if not, economists say we would be on the road to Argentina type economic collapse.
Oh, yeah, and those in the White House need to create the architecture for the new world monetary and financial system. And convince the world that it’s in everybody’s interest to pursue policies that will strengthen the dollar, even if those policies happen to hurt everybody outside America.
Didn’t Fed Governor Bernanke talk about how if he needed to he’d drop bales of dollar bills out of black helicopters until the cows come home? I’m paraphrasing and it was before he was appointed to his current post, but I recall that was the tenor of the statement. Perhaps he was a prescient man, and understood his future role in world history all too well.
So much for the United States.
The Environmental Crisis Ripens
Meanwhile, the rest of the world has reached a firm consensus that we are in a planetary, civilization-wide environmental emergency, but George Bush, Jr. presents the major obstacle to a truly global win-win approach to achieving the Post-Hydrocarbon Economy of the 21st century that will stabilize greenhouse gases, achieve significant energy conservation on a mass scale, and offer incentives for the creators of new energy-efficient designs for virtually everything in our lives, and incentives for those who develop new sources of clean, renewable alternative energy and the technologies that we need to harness these new types of energy.
For instance, we need to enable existing windmills and solar collectors across the country to plug into the grid, to increase our ability to generate renewable energy. Many windmills are far off the grid in remote areas, and many off-the-grid solar collectors are also under-utilized community resources.
This means pinpointing a renewable energy and energy conservation based environmental policy on every scale of governance: local, state, national, regional and global. This means clarifying the problems with such technologies as “heavy oil” extraction, nuclear power, and “clean coal”.
In her new article, “Clean Coal? Carbon Capture and Storage Is A False Solution” (http://www.satyacenter.com/carbon-capture-storage-false-sol) Satya Center’s Science and Society editor Dr. Mae-Wan Ho says that there is no such thing as “clean coal”.
“CCS is considered so risky on a large scale that industry is unwilling to fully invest in it without a framework that protects it from long-term liability,” explains Dr. Mae-Wan Ho.
The environment doesn’t really figure in the Presidential race in the United States very much, although Obama says he’ll put $50 billion into jumpstarting and nurturing the “green energy” sector, which could be anything from BP and nuclear power to coal fired electrical plants with untested and unreliable carbon sequestration technologies, to the renewables, and probably some of each, knowing Obama as little as I do.
McCain would be more like Bush, but he would “make Bush look like Gandhi” according to one Washington insider I spoke with recently. “And you probably thought Bush had a secret mean streak,” they said, laughing, but not in a ha-ha funny way.
So, no tree-hugging for McCain, no Kyoto protocol nonsense. Just more of the same. Denial. A Frank Sinatra environmental policy. Just roll the dice every day and see where the next mega-storm hits, the next tsunami, which rivers and aquifers run dry, which big cities will bethe next environmental victims sacrificed to the global hydrocarbon economy and free-market capitalism, or Reaganomics as it’s called. How many hundred thousand more will have to be evacuated into trailer camps, or seek refuge in their second homes elsewhere? Very macho. America may like that.
And no big push from McCain to conserve energy, create new renewable sources of energy, and so forth. New Green entrepreneurs could generate an estimated $20 trillion in new industries, new jobs, new wealth, over the next twenty years, according to a Silicon Valley venture capitalist Eric Janszen who wrote “The Next Bubble” in Harper’s Magazine. Just scroll down the page and you’ll find a link to the article in Top New Stories at SatyaCenter.com.
But without an activist President pushing the green technology, post-oil civilization paradigm that $20 trillion will go to companies in other countries. Good-bye American scientific dominance. Good-bye American cultural cool. Good-bye American dollar system. Good-bye American soldiers, they’re closing the bases, and you’re going home. To a Third World country with a big wall around it and you know it’s really hard to get out, and if you do, people in other countries don’t want you around.
Yeah, we need a President who is big on that “vision thing” that Bush Sr. thought to be so holier-than-thou over-intellectual pointy-head liberal and so forth.
We need a million visions for a totally different future. We need visions for paths that will get us there without suffering on a scale that may dwarf the horrors of the Twentieth Century.
We are in a global emergency. We in America are in a peculiarly American emergency as well. It seems as though the karma from America’s casual, brutal dominance by European settlers and America’s Imperial foreign policy may have brought about a perfect storm due to hit the ship of state about when the new President takes office.
And we are all in this together. It’s time to realize that the next President won’t save us. Neither party has a clue. But the world is ready for the greening of high tech design, energy medicine, organic agriculture, flower essences, political art, dance music, edible gardens, direct personal experience of mystical states of oneness, green architecture, personal responsibility, body work, new forms of community building & collective action and for the healing of ancient wounds that separate people into warring factions, nations, religions, and classes.
The sense of stomach-churning anxiety we feel is the taste in our mouths of the Earth repositioning itself on its own axis.
Festival of the Full Moon in Capricorn
Today is the Full Moon at 26.04’ Capricorn, which occurred at exactly 3:59 am EDT. We round up when doing Sabian symbols, so this Moon corresponds to the symbol for 27’ Capricorn, which is “Pilgrims climbing the steep steps leading to a mountain shrine.”
Like pilgrims we are on a journey of reverent discovery this full moon weekend.
We are at the end of an Age. We are on a pilgrimage to discover the New Age. And there is no map or road.
We live in the Old World, like Moses, and we are faced with a journey into a wilderness in search of a New World. Like the Grail Knights of the Round Table, we must go on a personal and collective quest for healing.
Like Lord Ram, we must perform our dharma, our worldly duties, to family and to society, even if that involves a great deal of sacrifice, self-denial, selfless service to others, and great personal danger. In so doing, we must remain always in touch with the Divine, for we must also fulfill our Higher Purpose, for that is our dharma too.
This is a capsule description of the Heroic Quest.