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Corporate Mythologies

The New York Stock Exchange

It’s hard to imagine a life without the comforts and conveniences of oil – yet we are told every day that there is a brighter future ahead, one where the sheets on the line glow white in the summer breeze, where cars will run on hydrogen, and where the flooring in you’re McMansion won’t give your children autism. We are being lied to folks – the people who are actually telling it how it is are being regarded as wackos, everyone else thinks that corporate America is the model that will save the world.

Worldchanging: Bright Green: Too Big to Fail? Think Again.

The single biggest delusion in North America today is that the interconnected planetary problems bearing down on us can be faced with slight alterations to the current order; that a model of delivery prosperity based on suburbs and big cars and consumerism and profligate energy use and the careless spewing of pollution in all directions can be fixed through the swapping out of some of its constituent parts for slightly greener parts — that green-built McMansions and hybrid cars and compact fluorescent light bulbs will prop the model up indefinitely. They won’t, because we are in a situation where incremental reform has already been made meaningless by a revolution in context, and industry CEOs who demand incredulously to know how we’re going to run an economy if car-dependent, high-consumption suburban lifestyles go away would do well to understand what Clay is saying here:

When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

We’re moving more and more quickly into a period of rapid transformation. We could be embracing that change and setting out to build the next smart, bright green economy. Instead, we allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that the current models are “too big to fail.” They’re not, and the longer we listen, the more epic the failure will be.

Considering that an ex-chairman of AIG has criticized the bailout as a waste of money, you’ve got to wonder who is advising the government and corporations.

Greenberg Offers Panel His A.I.G. Rescue Strategy – NYTimes.com

“It is clear that the current approach has not worked and cannot work in today’s environment,” Mr. Greenberg, who was ousted from A.I.G. in 2005, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “A.I.G., in my judgment, in the current plan, will not pay the taxpayers back.”

Once again, the corporate mythology of protecting the shareholders at any cost is rife in the decisions being made. Shareholders are not citizens of a community, they are a group of risk-takers looking for gains based on their risk-taking. Some may be altruistic, but those who’ve invested in mortgage lenders really can’t be held in this category.

What other corporate mythologies do you see in relation to peak oil and the current financial crisis?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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