[Brady Wiseman is a friend, programmer, state legislator for my hometown of Bozeman, and a Big Picture guy. We previously posted a couple clips from an intervu w/ him. I think people should hear what he has to say; so here’s the audio and transcript of the long vers…]
Audio: Montana State Representative Brady Wiseman (D- Bozeman) Jan 2009, Helena MT — over pints at the Blackfoot Brewery (15:13 mp3):
Transcript: My name is Brady Wiseman. I am a software engineer by profession. I live in Bozeman, Montana. I have a hobby which is serving as a citizen legislator in the Montana Legislature. So I’m spending the next four months in Helena, Montana acting as a public servant as a member of the Montana House of Representatives.
I believe that the economic catastrophe were in is a five act play and we’ve just come to the close here in early January, 2009, we’ve come to the close of Act One. We’ve got four more acts to go and it’s a tragedy. So, as it plays out, the ability of the National government to change itself will become apparent as being inoperative.
National politics is not subject to change because there are too many powerful forces behind it. So the change is gonna come from the grass roots. As people become less and less well off, as our standard of living continues to decline, people will self-organize into different modes of economic activity. And it won’t be directed from the top, it will simply happen from below.
And we still, at this point, have a wonderful advantage and that is the existence of the Internet to help transfer the knowledge of grass roots change, self-organized change happening in one place to another. And, so, we may be able to see a sweeping difference in how America operates, quite rapidly, but it will happen from the bottom, I believe, and not from the top.
The Obama Administration, right now, is committed to maintaining the status quo and they have proven themselves to be the servants of Wall Street, already, before even taking office, they had proven themselves to be the servants of Wall Street just like every Administration before them, going back to Franklin Roosevelt, who was the last President to buck the powers that be because they fell flat on their face and he was able to. He had to.
Well, if they fall flat on their face now , they still have control over events. They have their people in place in the new Obama Administration. And I don’t have to say the names, the names are well known. But it’s the same people who developed the system in the Clinton administration that is now collapsed.
So, I don’t expect them to do anything other than to take care of the people at the top, and nobody’s talking about taking care of the people at the bottom. And that’s what I’m here to do in my job as a Citizen Legislator is to look out for the people at the bottom.
How do we heat our homes? How do we turn on the lights? How do we put food on the table? These are the essential problems of life and they are becoming more and more apparent as the remaining four acts of the five act play play out.
There is no chart for the waters that we’re in now. There’s no map for the territory on the other side. That’s where the self organization come in. People will simply cope. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was nobody there to tell the people how to take care of themselves but they did. They managed it, they figured it out and I believe as things continue to decline — and economically I’m convinced they will — then our people will figure out how to make things work for themselves. And my job is to help that along as well as best as I am able from the level of State government.
I was raised in a Military family and later on, as an adult, I went on to working on Wall Street in a Wall Street bank, several brand name Wall Street banks, doing computer work.
I’m not a banker, I’m a computer guy. They needed what I did, so they were willing to pay me to do it and to teach me what it is they do. So I’ve been aware of how the securities industry works and how fake it is, and how much it is founded on hooey, and how much it depends on the faith of the participants because really they’re just trading paper that’s based on nothing except belief.
That’s the real, the true American fundamentalism is belief in that pieces of paper have value. And that’s not real.
And I came back home to Montana years ago because I needed connection to reality and our natural environment here gives me that. So, I’ve been thinking for a long time that the system can’t resist because it’s based on unsustainable principles and now we’re seeing that play out.
We’re gonna come out of it one way or another but we’re not gonna come out of it with the financial structure that we’ve had for the past 50 years, that is doomed. You now have the Federal government engaging in what appears to be socialism for the rich but it’s not. What happened this fall was not socialism. It was a merger. It was the completion of a 30 year hostile takeover of the American government by Wall Street. So, it’s not socialism it’s simply a hostile takeover, it looks like the government is supporting Wall Street but it’s not. Wall Street is simply taking.
They have the power to do that, to get the American people to give them 5 trillion dollars. How did that happen? Without a peep; Congress did not even wrestle with them.
They’re telling auto workers, people that take a shower after they get home from work, you have to take a pay cut. But they wouldn’t dare tell the bankers to take a shower before they go to work you have to take a pay cut.
So, ultimately, the system is not sustainable. The financial system we have is not sustainable so what happens, you know, we have all kinds of gyrations going on, all kinds of blather, we have wall to wall coverage on the TV on what happened today but there’s no meaning attached to it thats because there’s no meaning in it. It’s empty. And at some point we have to get back to reality.
Wealth is created by doing one of three things — so said Henry Ford, it’s not like I’m making this up — you make things,you grow things or your transport things from one place to another. That’s how you create wealth. And America gave up doing that.
We bought in to the whole fantasy of Wall Street. And I believe that the Obama Administration is beholden to this fantasy. That somehow we can turn into some kind of financial empire.
That’s never worked in the past. There are empires that have tried that. The Dutch Empire, the British Empire tried to financialize but you don’t create wealth by doing that.
Wall Street does not create wealth. All they do is transfer wealth from one place to another. And at this point they’re transferring all the nations wealth into their hands and then making it disappear.
So after thats all done what do the rest of us do? We have to create wealth in our own lives by growing things, making things or transporting things. That’s what we have to get back to.
How does that happen? The people will figure it out because the top down centralized, federalized, Wall Street capitalized system is failing. And as I believe cannot persist because it’s not based on a sustainable way of doing things so any system thats not sustainable will come to an end, one way or another.
It won’t be planned, it won’t be pretty, but it will come to an end. So, its up to the rest of us to figure out how to persist and carry on.
A major catastrophe in the Middle East would put us on our knees because our country runs on oil. The challenge before us right now is to figure out how to transfer from an oil economy to some other kind of energy and that has to be renewable energy because nothing else is sustainable.
Obama was talking about this during the campaign. We use 25 % of the worlds oil, we have 2 % of the reserves, this is just not sustainable. But how do we transition?
There is no case of any empire that has transitioned from one energy subsidy to another. The Roman empire, 2000 years ago, they’re energy subsidy was slaves. They couldn’t transition to something else.
The Dutch Empire was wind power for sailing, they ruled the seas. And they had a world wide trading empire but they couldn’t transition to the next thing which is coal.
The British had coal energy. They couldn’t figure out how to transition to oil.
The American Empire was built on oil energy. So what’s next? And who’s gonna get there. That’s the big question. And if we can’t find the leadership in this country to get from oil to the next thing, somebody else will do it. The question is who and that’s anybody’s guess.
Political leadership in this country is dependent upon the financial power and the financial power is sclerotic and immune to change. The change will happen because financial powers collapse, because they have screwed things up so badly, they have drunk their own Kool-Aid. They believe their own fantasy that somehow their immune from the laws of nature. They’re not.
They have hollowed out the country. There’s a great phrase in the Declaration of Independence regarding to the British, “They have eaten out our essence.” And that’s what Wall Street has done to this country. They have eaten out our essence. And they are not going to be coming up with the solutions.
The great centralized institutions of this country are incapable of coming up with solutions. The people will find their own solutions and then the institutions will arise to institutionalize those but that’s a long way off.
Right now we’re just watching the system devolve and watching what happen. You know the fasting growing segment of retail right now? Second hand stores. In fact there is a franchise operation now in second hand stores. And that is self organized, grass roots people figuring out how to organize their lives, organize economics, organize trade among themselves.
Because the great institutions of the country can’t do it but the people will and thats the optimism I have. Unfortunately, for us to get to the next thing, because the institutions are incapable of reform, a great number of people are going to suffer.
The fundamental thing is it’s all about oil. It’s all about energy. All of our wealth comes from the amount of energy that we consume which is greater than any other country on the planet. Our energy comes from abroad well, it’s based on oil.
The world oil production peaked three years ago. The entire financial system on this planet is dependent upon the amount of oil we produce being a little bit bigger every year. Think of it as a giant fountain and the fountain has to keep growing and the fountain has grown for 150 years. The amount of oil that the world produced on average has increased 2 to 3 % every year for 150 years.
Well, that came to a stop 3 years ago. It’s not coincidental that that’s when Wall Street collapsed. Because the wealth of our country, the banking wealth, the financial wealth is based on energy wealth that we consume. And when the energy wealth stopped growing, everything fell apart.
And now that we’ve reached the peak, no matter how much you believe in “Drill Baby, Drill,” there’s not enough oil for the entire world for that fountain to keep growing every year. So it stopped growing.
This is completely new. Our banking system since the Federal Reserve was instituted in 1913, basically in my belief, has been based on this growing fountain of oil. Well the fountain stopped growing.
It’s a fundamental condition of the system that it keeps growing. It stopped growing. So, game over. This game is over so we’re onto the next game.
But how do you incapsulate that in words, how do you draw a picture for people that this is the essence of our system and the essence changed. So now we’re going onto something new but nobody knows what that is. Nobody can predict what that is. And all these economist, all these Masters of the Universe don’t know squat. They can’t predict a damned thing because they’re not understanding the physics of the situation.
Masters of the Universe, the banker guys believe everything can be reduced to the money and interest rates. Wrong. It’s physical. Everything has to be reduced to energy and the energy production, literal energy out of the ground, whether it’s oil or coal or nuclear or solar energy, you name it, that’s where our wealth comes from. And our economy is arranged around that.
And as the fundamental nature of that system is changed, the fundamental nature of the financial system built on it also has to change. Now I am sure there are some smart people in the Obama Administration that have this figured out and that it’s too scary to talk about so they don’t want to say it out loud. I’m hoping to god that they do have it figured out because if they don’t then things will limp along but they will eventually continue to cascade into collapse because it’s not about the money, it’s about the energy and we don’t have a grip on changing how we do energy.
In the next 4 years, if the Obama Administration can deliver on the hope of changing our energy system then American can go on, more or less as it has. If they don’t then we’re into a new game and nobody knows what that is.
Even though what I’m talking about can be very depressing — it is frightening to people, I don’t usually talk about it cause it is very frightful — there is reason for hope. Americans are the most ingenious people on earth and we have been for over 200 years. The hope is that we find some way to set our people free of the institutional restraints.
Here’s a story: I was reading the Bible some years ago, The Old Testament. And I read the most amazing thing in the law of Moses. Moses decreed that there would be a Jubilee Year every 50 years in which all economic activity would cease, and that people would spend a year in spiritual reflection and fasting and feasting, and all debts would be cancelled.
The key economic factors that in the bible says that every 50 years debts would be cancelled. I think that that is genius economic policy. We are actually going through a kind of Jubilee in America. We have built up this fantastic pyramid of debt and it has to be washed out. And we need a Jubilee, and if we can have a jubilee and start over then we will survive and prosper because that is the nature of America. That we prosper.
But we have to figure out how to give ourselves a Jubilee. Maybe that is the hope of the Obama Administration, the stealth Jubilee.