Winter's Coming for the Boomers: Part 2

Includes: IVV, OIL, SPY, USO
by: James Quinn

<< Continued from part 1

Generation X – Assuming Command

We yearn for civic character but satisfy ourselves with symbolic gestures and celebrity circuses. We perceive no greatness in our leaders, a new meanness in ourselves. Small wonder that each new election brings a new jolt, its aftermath a new disappointment. Not long ago, America was more than the sum of its parts. Now, it is less. Around World War II, we were proud as a people but modest as individuals. Fewer than two people in ten said yes when asked, Are you a very important person? Today, more than six in ten say yes. Where we once thought ourselves collectively strong, we now regard ourselves as individually entitled. Yet even while we exalt our own personal growth, we realize that millions of self-actualized persons don’t add up to an actualized society.

Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

Barack Obama became the 1st Generation X-er to be elected President of the United States. His background is a classic Nomad story. He has lived the life of a wanderer, living all over the globe, a child of divorce, fatherless, raised by grandparents, and a free agent in his career. Generation X grew up as abandoned children and alienated young adults. Generation X leaders will be pragmatic, savvy and practical. Obama has proven thus far to be pragmatic and able to get his agenda initiated. Previous Nomad leaders who proved to be highly competent doers during a time of Crisis include Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton, and Harry Truman. You may not agree with Obama’s plans or policies, but it is clear to anyone that he is an intelligent, pragmatic man that will institute dramatic change in the policies of the United States.

It is very likely that Barack Obama will lead the country into the next Crisis. He will not lead us out of the Crisis, as it is unlikely to subside until 2025. As the Unraveling transitions into Crisis the apathy reflected in historic low voter turnout will reverse itself as Americans become mobilized by the Crisis. The economy always undergoes wrenching transformations during a Crisis. The U.S. economy will likely be racked by panic, depression, inflation and war. We have witnessed a preliminary financial panic, but the real panic will be much more traumatic. The separateness and blame witnessed during the Unraveling will transform into gathering and family togetherness. McMansions will become useful as three generations will more frequently live under one roof. Immigration will decline as the population will fear outsiders and place strict restrictions on foreigners entering the country. During the coming crisis, our culture will likely be cleansed, censored, and harnessed for the public good. The current ongoing financial debacle will ultimately contribute to the Crisis causing trigger of a worldwide oil shortage.

Peak Oil + Green Energy = Crisis

"But I guess it just reminds me that as a society, we don't have the ability to actually come to grips with a crisis until it hits us in the face. I am discouraged enough now to think that we're going to have to have a really nasty shock before we wake people up. The most optimistic estimate for the average depletion rate of the world's currently producing oilfields is between 4% and 5% annually, or about four million barrels per day at our current rate of production. That means that each year we must find enough new oil to first replace those four million barrels of lost daily production before we even add enough to meet new demand. This is all the more worrisome because world oil discovery of new reserves has been slowing since the mid-20th century.”

Matt Simmons

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Matt Simmons has been a lone voice in the wilderness warning Americans about the impending crisis that will be caused by Peak Oil. His prediction of a worldwide peak in crude oil production at 73 million barrels per day in 2005 has proved correct. Worldwide total liquids production peaked at 86 million barrels in 2008. All of the easy oil and gas in the world has been found. Additional supplies will be found deep below the ocean, in challenging arctic regions, in tar sands, and shale. It will be dramatically more expensive to extract oil from these sources. Oil discoveries have been in a steady decline since the 1970’s.

The United States has been dependent on 600 million barrels of oil from Mexico every year. By 2012 Mexico will become a net importer of oil, so 600 million barrels of oil will need to be replaced. Iran’s oil production is in decline as capital investment has been ignored for years. Russia’s production has peaked. Saudi Arabia continues to lie about its ability to ramp up production. Their oil fields are 40 years old and in terminal decline. By 2012, the world will only be able to produce 80 million barrels per day. There is no doubt that demand in 2012 will be higher than today’s 85 million barrels per day as China, India and other developing countries continue to grow. Even a Wall Street economist could predict what will happen to prices.

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Peak oil will have the most dramatic affect on America. We have 5% of the world’s population, but use 25% of the world’s energy. Practically 85% of the world barely uses energy. World population of 7 billion will likely grow to 10 billion by 2030. China and India both are selling more cars annually than the U.S. As people throughout the world enter the middle class, they want cars, TVs, and modern appliances. Energy demand cannot be turned back. Infrastructure constraints will exacerbate the coming energy crisis. The NIMBY crowd has managed to keep any refineries from being built in the U.S. since 1976. Our energy infrastructure is made of steel and is rusting away. It would take trillions to upgrade the energy system. These investments will not be made. The geologists and other experienced oil men are retiring, and no one is replacing them. Matt Simmons’ recommendation for the upcoming crisis is DOA:

"We should basically be going back to creating a village economy, so that we really reduce the energy intensity of how we live," he says. "We need big time conservation, not feel-good conservation. Make things where they're used. You'll end long-distance commuting, and we have the tools to do that now with webcams. Grow food locally. Grow food in your backyard. If they're not commuting, people will have time to do that."

The Green Agenda that is sweeping the country and is fully supported by the Obama administration will be the final nail in the coffin. The blueprint of success for the Green Agenda is ethanol. Government subsidized a fuel that required more energy to produce than it provides. The mal-investment in ethanol plants led to a boom and the usual bust when government interferes in the free markets. The use of corn for fuel caused prices to rise for other food crops and meat. With the crash in oil prices, ethanol plants have been going bankrupt at an accelerating rate. Renewable energy and green jobs are the catch phrases being used by Obama and the Democrats pushing the Al Gore led agenda.

“I believe it is appropriate to have an 'over-representation' of the facts on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience."

Al Gore

I’d like to know the difference between over-representation and lying. The real inconvenient truth is that the United States depends on oil, natural gas, and coal to supply 87% of its energy, with nuclear power providing another 7%. The beloved solar, wind and geothermal sources supply 1.5% of our energy needs. Harry Reid and his green disciples believe coal and oil are ruining the world. They want to eliminate the fuels that power 87% of our economy. Maybe they should just keep implementing their economic policies and keep the country in a permanent recession, as carbon emissions have declined over the last three years. Their false science claims, scare tactics in grade schools, and use of green catch phrases will not generate the energy needed to run this country.

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The green extremists want to eliminate coal as an energy source in the U.S. Even though nuclear energy emits no Carbon Dioxide, it is unacceptable to the green extremists. There is just one small problem. The chart below shows that coal and nuclear provide 72% of all the electric power in the United States. Renewable energy sounds good, but it cannot replace our existing sources. Inconvenient facts like no ability to distribute any energy created by wind and solar to the places that use the energy are completely ignored by green extremists. Our transportation system depends on oil to provide 96% of its energy. I don’t think anyone will be commuting to work in a solar car or wind powered car in the near future. A plug in car will require electric power that comes from coal and nuclear plants.

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The Cap & Trade Energy bill will eventually be rammed through by the Democratic controlled Congress. It is being spun as a bill that will reduce greenhouse gases and create thousands of green jobs. What is a green job? Will we turn unemployed investment bankers and auto salesmen into solar panel and wind turbine manufacturers? The green agenda bill will penalize manufacturers, refineries, natural gas producers and electric utilities with increased taxes. Sounds great. Let’s penalize the polluters. Every company that produces something will pass their costs along to their customers. This bill will increase the average family’s energy costs by $1,500 per year. It will convince many companies to move operations and jobs to China and India where these regulations don’t apply. Our agriculture industry will bear the brunt of this burden as they use tremendous amounts of energy in farming. Expect food costs to go up a lot. Since low income families spend a greater percentage of their income on energy, this bill will damage their finances the most. It will also trigger the coming Crisis.

20 Year Crisis - Financial Collapse, War, Rebirth

“Most of today’s adult Americans grew up in a society whose citizens dreamed of perpetually improving outcomes: better jobs, fatter wallets, stronger government, finer culture, nicer families, smarter kids, all the usual fruits of progress. Today, deep into a Third Turning, these goals often feel like they are slipping away. Many of us wish we could rewind time, but we know we can’t – and we fear for our children and grandchildren.”

Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

The skies are darkening and a cold wind is beginning to blow. Autumn began with bright skies and warm breezes, but the atmosphere has gotten bitter as swirling winds rip the remaining leaves from the trees. Winter is approaching rapidly and it gives all indications that it will be a bitter, dangerous, harsh time for all Americans. We wish we didn’t have to face the coming trial, but there is no avoiding it. Generational moods are transitioning, and a Crisis will envelop the country for the next twenty years. Courage and fortitude on a level not seen since World War II will be required. The celebrity circuses like the Michael Jackson funeral, Britney Spears comeback tour, and Brangelina’s latest adoption will seem so trite during the coming Crisis. Wearing a blue rubber wristband and putting a yellow ribbon on your Mercedes SUV will not cut it. Previous 4th Turnings in U.S. history have involved total war. Deaths during the American Revolutionary War were approximately 50,000. Total deaths during the Civil War were 600,000. Total deaths during World War II were 73,000,000. How many people will die during the coming Crisis? No one knows the answer in advance. An integrated global economy, combined with nuclear weapons, advanced military killing machines, terrorists, and peak oil appears to be a recipe for death on a colossal scale.

Anyone who doesn’t sense a turning in the mood of the country is just not paying attention. There is a foreboding feeling that something is dreadfully wrong with our country. For those addicted to cable television, we are about to leave the sheltered, superficial, coddled world of Housewives of Orange County and enter the frigid, dangerous world of The Deadliest Catch with 40 foot waves and the threat of a watery death at any moment. A dramatic event will soon shock the nation into action. The catalyst for the Crisis will likely be a sequence of events that will shift the mood of the country. The 1st event will be seen as the financial system meltdown in September 2008. The 2nd event will be viewed as the government’s reaction to the crisis. The remarkable sweeping steps taken by Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and Barack Obama have further weakened the U.S. financial system and left it vulnerable to the next sudden shock.

The approaching Crisis will be sparked by known existing threats that have been ignored and discounted by our Baby Boom leaders. These known threats include titanic current deficits, colossal unfunded future liabilities, and unavoidable Peak Oil. As the economy continues to hemorrhage jobs, Congress will do what they do best and spend billions more on stimulus pork. As the National Debt approaches $15 trillion in 2012, a spectacular collapse of the U.S. dollar becomes more likely. By 2012 the world will realize that Peak Oil is a fact. As demand outstrips supply, prices will rise dramatically. This is when a catalytic event is likely to plunge us into a harsh Winter of darkness and death. As the U.S. economy begins to collapse under the weight of debt and oil shortages, a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons on U.S. soil would plunge the country into chaos. Other possible triggers could be a natural disaster such as an earthquake that destroys significant portions of California or a hurricane that destroys oil rigs and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Significant oil shortages will bring commerce to a halt. Food shortages would occur within a week of oil supply disruptions, as most of the food in our stores must be delivered by truck. As real unemployment reaches 25%, interest rates soar, and the dollar becomes worthless, civil unrest will breakout and the Department of Homeland Security will be called upon to fight and imprison its fellow citizens.

Past Crisis periods were marked by Prophets leading and Heroes sacrificing (Gandalf & Frodo) as the soldiers of the Crisis. In 2012 the country is likely to turn to a Baby Boom President with strong leadership skills such as Newt Gingrich or someone who will appear out of nowhere (Abraham Lincoln was an unknown two year Illinois Congressman). As the U.S. domestic crisis deepens, Russia and China will attempt to take advantage of U.S. weakness by expanding their influence and control in Eastern Europe and Asia. Countries with domestic problems always turn outwards for a real or created threat to rally the nation. With the oil crisis getting worse, the U.S. will go to war in order to secure the precious supplies needed to run our economy. With China also seeking oil supplies a military conflict with China and Russia is quite possible. If the conflict turns into a cyber war of destroying satellites and disrupting computer communications, world leaders could be fighting blindly. If one of these leaders panics and decides to launch some of their nuclear arsenal, the world could be changed beyond all recognition. This scenario seems impossible today. On October 24, 1929 when the Stock Market crashed, did anyone foresee a twelve year Depression with 25% unemployment, a World War that killed 73 million people, and the creation and use of an atomic bomb in the following sixteen years? The impossible becomes possible during a Crisis.

A Crisis can end positively or negatively. Our previous Crisis periods have resulted in new golden ages. If the leaders we choose are strong, wise, and judicious and the Millennial generation can rise to the occasion as their GI generation grandparents did during our last Crisis, we can rejuvenate our national destiny. Winter always turns into Spring. But, Strauss & Howe offer a chilling warning:

“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.”