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Published : October 29th, 2012
807 words - Reading time : 2 - 3 minutes
( 19 votes, 3.7/5 ) , 6 commentaries Print article






With little to do while waiting for something possibly very bad to happen people tend to get jokey. That was how I felt about the election until Hurricane Sandy came along. For one thing, I happened to travel (by car - how else?) last week from Bennington through Brattleboro, Vermont, and down into a de-industrialized corner of northwestern Massachusetts. There were at least three major highway bridge re-construction projects (and many lesser ones) still underway along the route from last year's Hurricane Irene, which devastated Vermont. There's a fair chance that Vermont will get whacked again, undoing a billion dollars of work along the same mountain river roads. How demoralizing will that be? And where does the local share of the money come from?


I remember, too, being in Wilkes-Barre, in Eastern Pennsylvania just a few years ago and seeing that the city never actually recovered from floods induced by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which coincided with the beginning of the end of the local coal industry. The downtown was functionally dead, with a zombie overlay of social services, wig shops, and street people conversing with themselves. It appears that Hurricane Sandy is going to rip through the same region again, then curl east into my part of upstate New York and finally slog into the same new England states that got bashed last year.


Then, of course, there is the question of what happens to New York City in the next 48 hours, a potential enormity too vast to quantify from here (not to mention Washington DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington, and the toxic waste dump formerly known as New Jersey).


My own main worry, sitting here in comfort, in a well-lighted room, is how widespread the electric power outages might be and how long might they last -- conceivably even through the election. Surely, Mr. Obama is pacing nervously now in some deep underground White House command center, worrying about what might be required if there is no electricity to run the voting machines across the nation's most populous region, or if many hundreds of thousands of voters get stranded at home by broken bridges and washed-out roads, or how many votes his government might lose if the juice stays on but he can't relieve the anticipated misery fast enough... with the idiot Romney kibitzing from the sideline.


I don't know if the US can take that kind of disruption and come out the other side the same way it went in. The systems that keep us going are already in trouble, some of them already teetering, like the airline industry, which can barely keep going with jet fuel clocking at 40 percent of its operating costs due to $90-a-barrel oil. The political system itself is more fragile than we might suppose, despite the seemingly despotic reach of surveillance, the size of the government payroll, and the amazing complacency of the sports-and-fructose-saturated public. Few believe in the two major parties, or what they pretend to stand for, including many officers and foot-soldiers in those parties. If the system finds itself unable to hold an election on the day specified by the constitution, what happens then? Another trip to the Supreme Court. Uh-oh....


Anyway, Hurricane Sandy and all it portends this Monday morning is a nice distraction from all the other things un-winding, tottering, and fracturing in so many advanced nations. Promises of massive (and improbable) bailouts have kept the financial meltdown of Europe a few degrees below critical mass for a couple of months, but the thermometer is inching upward with the ominous Catalan regional election in Spain tipping well toward the secessionists, and Greece whirling around the economic drain, with all of its previous bail-out money merely yo-yoing back to the client banks of the "troika" that arranged the bail-outs, and countries like Italy, Portugal, and Ireland whistling past the graveyard beyond the news media's peripheral vision. And then there is China with its government transition hugger-mugger, its empty make-work cities, its crony banking system unaccountable to anyone, and its extremely modest reserves of its own oil to run the whole hastily constructed shootin' match. They have been working earnestly in plain sight - off the news media's radar screen - to construct a resource extraction empire in Africa, but then they will be stuck with the job of defending 12,000 mile supply lines. Good luck with that.


Finally, there is the nauseating spectacle of the presidential election itself, with two creatures of corporate capture pretending to represent the interests of some hypothetical majority who wish to remain the slaves of WalMart and Goldman Sachs. If Hurricane Sandy causes such massive disruption as to interfere with the election, perhaps that will be a good thing - a sudden, unavoidable re-thinking of our ossified institutional customs, and a thrust into the emergent history of the future.




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your much labored prose betrays the overreach of a mind too accustomed to now stale and too oft repeated scenarios of impending catastrophe. this overstretched meme has solicited in its readership only exhaustion and impatience at its much delayed arriva  Read more
david K. - 11/1/2012 at 2:12 AM GMT
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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. His nonfiction book, "The Long Emergency," describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.
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your much labored prose betrays the overreach of a mind too accustomed to now stale and too oft repeated scenarios of impending catastrophe. this overstretched meme has solicited in its readership only exhaustion and impatience at its much delayed arrival (as it has across the net in a variety of commentators) and indicates a myopic preoccupation which faithfully mimics the entropy it seeks to describe in aesthetic reflection. you've lost your edge, Mr.Kuntsler and your efforts would be more profitably applied to the planting of next springs spinach, kale, and of course garlic. I know there are bills to pay, but the royalties from your considerable prosody should suffice, not to speak of the sales of your truly atrocious paintings. such self promoted effete snobbery is usually rewarded as such. congratulations.
James, I hope you don't stop writing. As for the Two Creatures of Corporate Capture; I thought to myself: if Romney were telling the truth ~ about ending Obamacare on His First Day in Office ~ even I would vote for him. Yes, I know he might get elected, and then would probably get a paragraph or a few sentences removed from The Bill; but I know the massive bulk of the 1,209 Pages will FOREVER remain intact AND ENFORCED. Mittens isn't telling the truth.
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Ah yes. The "idiot Kunstler" exposes his non thinking bias again as he sits all comfy in his Obama delirium. I cannot imagine how bad his Demo clogged writings would be if his man Obama was not the total nation destroying, moronic marxist that he so obviously is!
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Kunstler is and has been a critic of our modern industrial society for years. In article after article he has extolled the simple, back-to-nature life, to a 'world made by hand.' He has even gone so far as to spiritualize the very dirt bringing visions of Mother Gaia wrecking civilization.

Now, with super storm SANDY bearing down on the East Coast, he says, "My own main worry, sitting here in comfort, in a well-lighted room, is how widespread the electric power outages might be and how long might they last...." So he sits in the comfort of what the Industrial Revolution has gifted him with in 'a well-lighted' room and is very worried about the electric power (he has often denigrated) going out.

Naturallly he abhors Romney and, showing his brilliant use of language, calls him, "..the idiot Romney.." Nevermine that Romney would increase drilling on public land, remove nonsensical environmental restrictions, pursue the Keystone pipeline -- and other measures -- all in an attempt to make America energy independent by 2016. So Kunstler ought not worry. The 'idiot' Romney would make sure James Howard Kunstler continues to be safe and comfortable in his well-lighted room.

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There is a God Mr Kunstler, and he is coming to Wall street with a very large loofer to do the cleaning job that the regulators are too scared to do!

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