Friday, 6 November 2009

What Is, And What Is To Come...

Let's not forget about the inevitability of collapse -- the EU and its constituent national governments are unsustainable.

The EU is by far the world's largest fossil fuel importer, in a world of finite fossil fuel supplies. Most of the EU governments have Ponzi-type pension schemes which will collapse, along with unsustainable government debt. Even poster-girl Germany's trade surpluses are unsustainable in the long term; when the customers collapse (or switch to Chinese goods), Germany too will be in the pit along with the rest of the EU.

- Commenter "Alice" at Samizdata, November 5th.

It doesn't take much vision to generalize this conclusion - which other countries are dependent upon fossil fuel imports, have burgeoning State debts linked to life-control schemes (education, healthcare, "social security", infrastructure, law and "order")? That description fits most of the western world including those places in which governments have sought for decades to emulate their western counterparts. The obvious objection to bringing home this conclusion of inevitable collapse to other places outside of the EU is that there is variation across such places in the significance of their energy-import dependency and in the significance of their State debts.

But what really are the chances of doing anything about it, and removing that modifier "inevitable" from the conclusion?

On energy alternatives, nuclear is the obvious one but still suffers from a general political unpopularity. Renewable energies are, for the most part, economically retarded by chronic technological problems (e.g. the lack of good batteries for storing solar energy). Additionally, renewable energies are tainted by the sermonizing of their supporters - even if they are economically retarded, everyone must be forced to use them anyway in order to halt the "inconvenient truth" of global warming.

On State debts there are similar problems. Minor cuts in public spending here and there can sometimes be accomplished without too much political cost, but unless (and probably even if) that is made a regular, pan-political government policy across successive administrative terms, it is a hopeless option. Massive cuts in public spending, not to mention wholesale sell-offs of centrally important State industries (e.g. education and healthcare) are still way out in the realm of political impossibility.

In respect of both the problem of energy and and the problem of State debt, the underlying causes lie with the electorate - or more specifically with the distorting psychological and cultural effects that a forced relationship between persons must always bring about.

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