Saturday, May 10, 2014

White Flight, Urban Decay, and Oil

I watched the movie Riding in Cars with Boys today. It is about a teenage girl in the early 1960s who gets pregnant out of wedlock at 15, marries the father, and ends up a single mother who is over attached to her son. What stuck with me is the stereotypical depiction of that time period. As I mentioned to my wife, it was a time period where the most run down parts of the inner city today, were relatively clean and safe. The story is familiar to any student of recent US history: Jim Crow gave the power of segregation to whites who banished blacks at will; the Civil Rights Act was passed and the blacks moved into the city while the whites continued segregation by other means and moved out in what is known as "white flight," creating suburban sprawl.
This does not explain the subsequent onset of urban decay. Many racist individuals would like to claim that blacks ran down the inner city because they did not have the character to maintain it. However, white flight did not occur all at once; but perhaps over a time span of 5-10 years, as previously white uptown neighborhoods started getting less and less white. By the time white flight had left its full footprint on urban living, the economic woes of the 1970s had hit. Oil shocks produced stagflation that increased inequality. This hit those on the lower end of the economic scale hardest, including minorities such as the blacks that had moved into the city. Left with only a fraction of the economic resources the previous white inhabitants had, they also were less able to maintain the same standard of living.
Stagflation not only depressed inner city minorities but also ended of the post-WWII economic golden age. Societal promises were broken, the New Deal wasn't working, inflation ripped through American society. So much so that by 1980 Ronald Reagan could get up and say that government was the problem--and America voted him in.
But we forget that the problem never was government. The New Deal worked. But it was based on the presence of a healthy, growing industrial economy that in turn depended on cheap energy. The oil shocks of the 1970s strangulated industrial economies worldwide for this reason.
We should've started down the road to an oil-free economy then. Instead, America wallowed in a glut of North Sea (and cheap Middle Eastern oil in the 1980s) and then Cantarell(Mexican) oil until 2005... and you know the rest. Our current economic "improvement" (such as it is) is attributable to shale oil (Bakken, etc.) which will run out by the end of the decade. The solution is not to drill, the solution is to transition our economies off of oil, then off of fossil fuels altogether. This is the big story--economic and social chaos from ongoing economic crises and expensive oil will hit harder than any effects of climate change and leave us utterly unable to deal with them. Any oil remaining should be used as a transition stock. The time is past for this. When the shale oil bonanza runs out (2016-2020) what then? What then? All of our modern society with its abundance and medicine and gadgets and human rights and science is supported by industrial processes that CAN'T BE PRESENTLY SUSTAINED WITHOUT RELATIVELY CHEAP OIL.


Eli Jackson said...

Ahhh brother... Now you say we fundamentalists are guilty of leaving our first love which is Christ Jesus...

Brother, you're still banging Peak oil in 2014...

Blacks were responsible for a majority of crime in the south through all time since slavery, (and probably before then, it's why I changed my mind on my knee-jerk opposition to the lynching that was done then, I learned that almost ALL were criminals and, of 5,000 lynched, 1,700 were white.
Maybe it got out of hand often and prejudice played it's part, but all in all it was often righteous justice.
If you rape a woman, or murder a man I think the biblical position is death, whether by electric chair, beheading, or by the magnolia tree on the edge of town.

Witness to em and do the best we can to win em to Christ, but it is not mercy, nor is it just to forgive someone who's done someone ELSE a wrong.
I can turn the cheek when the devil's crowd comes after me, but if they threaten my family it would be wicked for me to sit idly by.

Now I got away from my point, blacks commit crime, why? Whatever reason you want, but they been doing it for awhile, and after they lost Christ they've gotten 10x worse, don't pleasure me to say it but it's true.
Don't make excuses.

And now I see the real reason you turned away from fundamentalism, you're a raging political liberal, and you've clearly been thataway concerning Christ also... Ah well, God bless you, I hope He finds you.

David T. said...


Lynchings are vigilante extra-judicial actions, and uncalled for in a civilized society. Bring crime before the courts and before a judge and jury.
I am sad that Christian has to equal political conservative.
The shale oil boom has done nothing to stop peak oil. Only slowed it 5-7 years.