Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Civil unrest: coming soon to a city near you

Charlie Rose had John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil on last night. Some of what the guy said seemed a bit delusional, such as his comment that in the U.S. we pay the full cost of fuel rather than benefiting from the subsidies that many other nations provide in the interest of economic growth. Our fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidized, so I don't know what he's talking about there. But the part that I found interesting is when he says that the elephant in the room that politicians aren't talking about is that without additional authorization for drilling, urban centers in the U.S. are ripe for massive civil unrest. I've often thought that as the price of getting to work and feeding our families continues to rise, and the number of home mortgage defaults increases, we may experience a time not far off that will make the race riots of the 60s seem tame. It was eerie having my concerns validated by the president of a major oil company.


Angel, librarian and educator said...

I don't know. I don't think people in this country have either the stomach nor the brains to actually launch a revolution. As I often tell my better half, if this was Latin America, someone would have already gotten on his horse, rounded his neighbors, and headed for the White House to ouster the WH resident. While I may not agree with the whole idea, one has to admit that at least caudillos have the cojones to stand up for something.

Massive civil unrest? Maybe in some other part of the world. Here people are too busy watching American Idol or keeping track of Paris Hilton. They may bitch and moan about the price of gas and groceries (and they do have a valid point), but let's be honest. As long as no one shuts down their TV and their I-Pods, it will be business as usual. And that oil executive knows it. Now THAT is scary.

Proletarian Librarian said...

I think you're wrong about that. When I'm speaking about civil unrest, I'm not speaking about revolution. I agree that in the U.S. we're not organized enough for that, but once people can't afford to GET to work - can't afford to feed their families...

Try to remember that iPod owners are still in the minority. I'm talking about the forgotten multitudes for which $4 a gallon gas is more than just a major inconvenience. Our inner cities could erupt at some point. In fact, I think it highly likely.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Well, I am not sure I agree, though I do not totally disagree. I think for me it is a matter of numbers. Exactly how many people have to be without work, have to be sick and tired of $4 a gallon gas, etc. before the unrest happens? That there is a huge forgotten, and I'll add neglected, segment of the population suffering is a given. No one can deny that. On the basis of what you say, I am kind of surprised, to be honest, that the unrest, as you define it, has not happened yet.

If the powers that be managed to ignore and pretty much put aside something as massive as Katrina, I don't think a few riots will scare them, so to speak. Sure, they mobilize the National Guard (whatever of it is left), but otherwise, it will go back to business as usual.

I so want to believe, yet I just don't see how the complacency of so many can be overcome.

Best, and keep on blogging.

Anonymous said...

You are both wrong. Many people here in Florida or the US do not know that we had two riots over Section 8 housing when gas was $4.00/gallon. Unemployment was not bad then. Low wage people could not afford food, housing and gas then, as the price of gas rose. As California goes bankrupt and defaults on their bonds, the rest of the country will follow and the next downturn will be much worse.