Problems, Tyrannical and Transcendent

In response to a lamentation on Florida provided to me by Michael:

The difference between optimism and pessimism, is, I think, whether one takes the following line from the Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigor in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former exoduses of nations and crusades.

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind

as glorious or not.

I don’t like places with too many people, so that Florida will pay for faster-than-sustainable growth with lower-than-otherwise growth does not concern me too much.

Every problem we now have, with the exception of the high cost of labor, will fade into nothingness.

The one remaining problem will only get worse.

Oil Prices (and why Peak Oil is irrelevent)

As of this writing, a barrel of Texas Light Sweet crude would cost you $123.64, according to Bloomberg. This is down from the oil bull market price of $140 or so per barrel. Interestingly, this also the price that makes switchgrass ethanol (gasoline from tall prairie grass, corn husks, and so on) economical.

Prices go up, prices go down.

The only real concern regarding energy prices is that they support crummy states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia. The less market-oriented countries need to import oil, the less oil-rich countries can avoid market discipline by selling what they fond under their feet.

As the auto production market adjusts to high prices, the long-term shift away from oil begins. Concepts like Ethanol Hybrid Electrics and other mindbending combinations approach the market, making peak oil a mute, meaningless and irrelevent concept.

But does Israel support an Undivided Jerusalem?

The context for this, flub, of course:

The Weekly Standard
“Um, let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s.”

is another far more serious one, where Obama may or may not support an Undivided Jerusalem. Whatever his ultimate position, he certainly didn’t know what those words meant when he said them.

Obama’s inability to speak English (as opposed to read or memorize speeches) may help him in domestic politics. Bush’s certainly has: where a misstatement by Gore would immediately be assumed to be a lie, a misstatement by Bush was just another example of the “legacy kid” screwing up. So I’m not surprised when the “affirmative action kid” screws up. Both are below-average in terms of abilities or experiences of our recent Presidents, and both were given their party’s nomination because of a politically correct heritage.

Still, many of my liberal friends have pointed out that George Bush’s mishandling of the English language hurt our ability to transmit our messages to others in the world. Obama’s mishandling of English will do similar damage.

New Core Asian Realiagnment

The Bush Administration has been brilliant in building good relations with the New Core of Asia — countries like India and China. Indeed, this success is far more important over the long term than failures anywhere else in the world. We’ve become so accustmed to good news from the Asian New Core that it’s easy for it to fall between the cracks. So here are two stories with brief descriptions:

Indian government wins confidence vote
The Indo-American Nuclear Pact will not only allow nuclear technology to be shared among the two greatest democracies in the world: it also essentially recognizes India as a genuine nuclear power. The left in both countries oppose this… in India because their Left is anti-American, in America because our Left is anti-Bush. Fortunately, India’s government passed a confidence motion, which clears the way for New Dehli ratifying the agreement. Now as long as America’s Congress agrees, it is smooth sailing.

China and Russia’s Geographic Divide
Historically, Russia has been a west-Asian state with only marginal influence on European affairs. When Peter I and other Russian autocrats changed this, Europe began suffering from an infusion of Russian ideals, customs, and habits. Fortunately, the Russian state only exists as long as it has wealth to leach off of, and naturally runs itself down. Traditioanlyl Russia would reinvigorate itself through aggressive wars, though nuclear weapons appear to prevent this from happening against. Thus, Russia slowly falls back into its old role as a west-Asian state, a supplier for Chinese needs with as much freedom of movement as, say, Kazakhstan.

The Rise of India and China, along with the decline of Russia, may be the greatest story of the late 20th and early 21st century. And it’s a very happy story.