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A number of 2012 end-of-year articles take a look back, and wonder what the future might bring from an environmental, economic, and progressive political perspective. Perhaps not too surprisingly, it's fairly easy to connect the dots among them.

James Howard Kunstler, in "Forecast 2013: Contraction, Contagion, and Contradiction," makes a point, that while very true, is incomplete. It's not just cheap petroleum. Western man began thinking he was entitled to "limitless goodies forever" thanks to Enlightenment science, the enclosure of the commons, and the forerunner to capitalism--mercantilism--in the 1500s with the fledgling global empires of European nation-states. 200 years of cheap fossil fuels has merely put Industrialism on steroids and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that capitalism is a more efficient means of economic cannibalism than State Socialism.

But, do we really need to keep enriching the parasite class? The world needs "capital, commodity, and equity markets" honest or otherwise like it needs a(nother) hole in the head--courtesy of a well-drilling bit. Capital, or more accurately financial instruments such as equity markets, are not necessary for innovation, progress, or prosperity and doing without "markets" as we know and love them today is not a path straight to the dark ages. This doesn't mean some varying number of people won't die of cold and starvation from market collapse (mainly bankers and stockbrokers), though, depending on how rational the choices we make as a society are in the very near future. Like tomorrow. Because people are already dying from those reasons today. It can be easily argued that the mere existence of today's economic system--designed to privatize the commons and transfer wealth from the bottom to the top--is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people daily from starvation and disease that could be easily alleviated were it not for the profit motive.What we must closely examine are the actual services markets and their financial instruments deliver in the real world that fulfill a social good.

More on this in a bit, but I do agree with Kunstler that Americans will probably finally freak when Cheerios hit $9/box.

Rob Kall in OpEd News, "The Left is Moving Right. What to do?," among other good ideas calls for a progressive/left institute that would research and advocate policy. I would suggest doing so along the same lines as ALEC. The framework is in place within my non-profit, Coalitions of Mutual Endeavor, to do exactly this. I know voices on the left keep calling for them to be shut down, but I still don't see ALEC as doing anything wrong (absent an ethical framework, of course) other than pushing a viewpoint. In a representative republic, isn't this how it's supposed to work? One major advantage the left would have is the ability to actually use an ethical framework, and it's never made sense to me that they refuse to use it. Well, except for the disdain capitalism has for ethics... and science for that matter. The love affair with the Industrial Growth Society is probably the main area in which the Left has some serious soul-searching to do.

Kall points out that the requirements for turning things around--crafting effective policies and strategies to reach the Left's goals--include admitting that Democrats are the slightly less right wing of the Corporate War Party and that we must "define a vision of a progressive future." I'll come back to that point here in a minute, too.

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