Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where Phil Robertson is Wrong – You CAN’T go Back Again!

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

Lost in the chaos swirling around Phil Robertson’s (of Duck Dynasty) condemnation of swindlers, adulterers, liars...and homosexuals, is the broader idea proposed by the Robertson clan, in effect, that we can all go back to a simpler life, where we’re all at peace with nature and such.

For better, or for worse, that ship has long since sailed.

Mankind’s “dominion over the earth” is best exemplified today by China’s and India’s burgeoning smokestack industries and NOT a few robust Louisianans shooting ducks.

We live in an INCREASINGLY automated and energy-guzzling world that tends to pit mankind AGAINST nature, looking to control, harness and utilize earth’s materials and not worship them American-Indian style, as romantic a notion as that might be. That culture, like the other “indigenous” cultures around the globe was replaced because it wasn’t efficient enough to defend itself from the coming industrial onslaught, brought about primarily by the northern Europeans,  the missionaries of human progress and modernizers of the existing world.”

Today, we live in a world that will require 4X as much energy by 2050 as it does today…and we WILL HAVE TO find a way to supply it. Ours is a world birthed by the technological genius of two Germans Carl Bosch and Fritz Haber, the first to devise a means of creating ammonia and chemical fertilizers from the nitrogen in our air. It is that advance alone that has allowed man’s population to rise above the 2 BILLION that could be sustained by a global agriculture sustained by natural fertilizers alone.

We’re also living through an age of major economic dislocation, somewhat similar to the time between the horse and buggy and the car. Old industries are dying off, or automating to such a degree that a scant few can now do the work it took a veritable army to do a few decades ago, and newer ones are either just starting up, or on the horizon and we’re in a major transition period between the older industrial technologies and the new, coming ones. Those today who don’t embrace that change quick enough are going to be left behind like buggy whip makers and, well...like those romantic Indians of the Great Plains.

There is a LOT of pain, both present and more coming that will ultimately have to be shared, to get through this transition period. That’s why we’re seeing the virtually limitless extensions to unemployment insurance – because new jobs...and new training just aren’t ready yet.

Worse yet, the demographic shift America gleefully (some may say foolishly) embraced immediately after the murder of JFK (it seems as though we couldn’t wait to throw away every bit of that post-WW II “1950s America” in the wake of Camelot), appears to make a successful economic shift like this all the harder, for in changing the population demographics, we’ve also changed the American work ethic...BOTH were unceremoniously thrown overboard.

BUT there’s no “going back” in that regard either and more and more Americans are finding that there really aren’t liberal...or “librul” Americans and “Conservative” Americans, so much as cynical Americans, who’ve come to see the post-JFK social, economic and political changes as “not in our best interests,” and naive ones who thought that NONE of those changes would ever really hurt themselves...or their children.

As more and more middle-class/middle-management whites have been laid off, replaced, or downgraded and seen their kids chances of doing even as well, let alone better than they did greatly diminish, the shrinking white vote has grown considerably more cynical...or “Conservative.” In my view the “political” divisions don’t come down t “Liberal” versus “Conservative” Americans, so much as “shrewd and cynical” Americans versus naïve, and still awakening ones.

The inevitable demographic changes (they are fixed now via immigration policies) will bring with them inevitable social and economic changes, as well. America looks poised to have a Hispanic century, before the nation’s predominant cultural vibration becomes Asian, by somewhere around the mid-22nd Century, when Asians become the largest single group at appx. 34% by around 2150, with Hispanics holding at around 30%, whites around 26% and blacks around 10%...give or take a percent here or there.

Until that rise of Asian influence, which might (if we’re fortunate) both bring back a sense of “shame,” and a stronger work ethic, it could be a bumpy ride for the U.S., especially between 2020 and 2100, where the REAL demographic shift becomes much more up close and personal for a LOT more people. Many once comfortable people won’t be as comfortable anymore and their children may well wind up even less secure, as others prefer to associate and do business with “their own.”

The parochialism of race and ethnicity still seems to have a good ways to go before it’s put behind us.

In the short term it appears to be a very big risk entering an economic transition while undergoing such a rapid and dramatic demographic shift, but that is virtually inevitable now.

Regardless of whatever second thoughts we might have, or come to have, there’s no “going back,” so the enticing essence of what the Robertson’s offer (a return to a simpler, more natural time) is unfortunately a fiction that threatens to take our focus off dealing with the myriad problems that are heading our way fast.

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