Wednesday Night #1474 – Herb’s account

Written by  //  June 2, 2010  //  Herb Bercovitz, Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

There are two versions of this Wednesday Night with David and Terry Jones – a full house with rich debate – as we cannot resist publishing our faithful scribe’s philosophical narrative without amendment.

Natural and man-made disasters, energy, the environment and politics
Whether conferred by God’s will, as explained by the Holy Bible and analogous texts of other religions, or by an unfortunate calamitous series of events as claimed by geneticists, Man has achieved dominion over the planet and all the plant and animal species, dead and alive therein.  What is most disturbing is that Man not only cares little for various living species in his own generation, but less for the well being of those that follow, if, indeed, they survive.  Very few of the human species accept responsibility for the result of their avarice or errors, pointing their evolved index finger at the most vulnerable rather than at the most culpable.Despite the availability of energy sources other than that emanating from the exploitation of the remains of our genetic ancestors, despite the predictable ecological hazards involved in disturbing those remains five miles under the ocean floor, despite warnings claimed to have been expressed by the technicians involved in the undertaking, an oil well was drilled in the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is a moving finger that points to the most convenient human target as the disconnect between blunder and responsibility widens.  Ultimately, by August at the latest, when the drilling of the relief well will have been completed, the flow of oil will have been tamed, if not stopped; the technicians who are said to have warned of the impending disaster will bear the personal burden of not having been able to prevent the disaster that they had predicted, without any gratitude for their foresight.  Although BP is said to possibly not be in a position to accept the cost of repairing the damage, it will undoubtedly survive thanks to the generosity of  President George Bush whose government limited the oil company’s financial responsibility.  On the cusp of an off year federal election, the President of the United States, who could hardly be accused of being able to have prevented the disaster, arises as a convenient target.  Being the only publicly identifiable figure, his reputation has tumbled.  However off-year elections have historically resulted  in a loss of a few seats in one or both chambers and this November’s election is not expected to exaggerate that historical record.
Apart from the scoundrels, real or imagined, who have escaped unscathed, apart from the enormous financial cost to BP and to the citizens of the United States, the human and ecological damage to the entire eastern seaboard is incalculable. Animal species will have been decimated (a poor choice of words as the Romans only killed one in ten) and the lifestyle of a large part of the population of the southeastern U.S. will have been forever changed.  Questions arise as to the possible additional effect of hurricanes, should they occur in the region.
The only real point of comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill, was followed by incredible human suffering and suicide.   It has been said that the slowness of claims settlement, possibly deliberate, led victims to accept much less than adequate compensation and even to suicide.  It would appear that in this, the twenty-first century a monetary value can be placed on human life.
A particularly frightening scenario is the damage to insurers and re-insurers and subsequent cost to be borne by all insurance policy holders as well as to the wildlife and those whose livelihood depends on them. Equally – and sufficiently frightening to cause it to be filed in the dark recesses of the human mind – is the prospect of a similar or equivalent disaster occurring in or in the vicinity of a third world country financially unable to deal with it, and who would sell off the risk to those with no stake in  that country.
If guilt were to be assigned, a larger portion than that going to those who profited from taking risks at their own peril or at that of others, or to such available targets as the President of the United States, would be assigned to the public who choose price or convenience over safety.  The quest for alternative fuels, whether nuclear, solar, microwave or others, appears to be trumped by the energy derived from the traditional, although certainly not safer, bones of our genetic ancestors.  Talk of nuclear energy, which is in ample supply, conjures pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both of which were unfortunately planned to be destroyed;  or the reactor at Chernobyl that was known to be unsafe, demonstrating the result of greed and/or indifference to the need to protect human life; or Three Mile Island which, despite the negative reaction of the population, was a success story because it demonstrated the safety of well- planned nuclear reactors.  Certainly nuclear energy has risks, but the record of nuclear reactors, other than that at Chernobyl, has demonstrated their relative safety.
It has been suggested that attempts will be made to prevent BP from paying dividends, sequestering the money as insurance against any future disaster, a plan, however justified, extremely unlikely to be implemented.

The Stock market follows its own path, as predictable as, yet as capricious as the human psyche.  We have witnessed thirteen months of an uncertain market since March, 2009.  Experience would anticipate that the time has come for a normal correction and indeed, the market has indicated some favourable signs in the past few weeks.  It is as oversold as it was in March, 2009, an indication that it the decline has ended.  A meandering market is probable for the remainder of June and the first half of July, when a rising market may be expected, with many good trading opportunities.

Much has changed on the world scene.  With the problem mitigated by the fact that most of its indebtedness is internal, Japan‘s debt is greater than that of Greece and has been a crisis situation for the past two decades, not in any manner aided by its recent acquisition  of the U.S. former indebtedness to China.   As the relative value of the euro decreases, Europe actually gains at the expense of Japan and China as a dramatic drop in European importation of Japanese and Chinese goods occurs.  In an unusual move, Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has resigned after less three quarters of a year in office, ostensibly because of his inability to move the U.S. Marine base from southern Okinawa, a legacy of World War II.  Just as the Guantanamo base is not popular with Cubans, popular resistance to the base on Okinawa is understandable but may or may not be reasonable.

In Canada, whether to our benefit or not, because our political system favours it, because of the existence of several small parties who have little hope if any of being elected as the governing party and because the Liberal Party appears unable to find a popular charismatic leader in its midst strong enough to capture the imagination of Canadians, the Conservative Party is destined to form a majority government without having gained the majority of votes cast.  The recent election in Britain of a coalition government, previously an anathema in this country, is slowly gaining support.  However, in considering the personalities and political philosophies of the various parties, a coalition including the Bloc would appear to be impossible and a coalition including the NDP and Liberal Party might be viable only with Bob Rae as Liberal leader.  The only viable solution appears to be the eventual phoenix- like rebirth of the Liberal party with a leader neither including Justin Trudeau nor the array of Actors that tried out for the part as successor to le Petit Gar de Shawinigan.  Of course, it is obvious that the ongoing Conservative government is the result of plurality, a legitimate, if not always appreciated, democratic option.   An autumn election has been predicted.

Some Wednesday Nighters see coming changes in the Middle East with the succession of leaders of government.  Although son followed father in office in Jordan and Syria and will probably shortly do so in Egypt, it is anticipated that as yet unidentified changes will occur with incredible speed.  It is to be hoped that the cradle of Judeo-Christian civilization will become the crucible for positive change in this generation.  Perhaps the anger in evidence throughout the world will be transformed into ploughshares or their twenty-first century equivalent.

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