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Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Island

As we all wait for the last American homeowners to lose their houses and crowd in together under a bridge in Milwaukee, this question comes up more and more among people who are deeply concerned: Where’s the best place to invest my money?

Up, up and

Given the increasing scarcity of oil and the rising price, you might think oil was the best place to park your millions. In the long run that’ll probably pay off, sure, but in the short run, other things can interfere with really juicy profits. For example, if all those Americans under the bridge in Milwaukee have to trade their cars for food, oil prices might go down temporarily.

Fabulous Americans revisit ‘70’s bathhouse memories before trading 4x4 for beef jerky.

So what’s a billionaire to do? Invest in coal? Shale oil? Tar sands? Nuclear? The prices are bound to rise as oil depletes, but there is the dreary moral aspect, which brings out the protestors, lawsuits, and so on. So what about green power? Perhaps a solar array? A wind farm? Clear a little forest in Sumatra to grow palm for biodiesel?

Plant me a pound of that great coffee while you’re at it!

No. According to Naomi Klein, the next big investment opportunity is in helping the rich prepare for Armageddon. Yup, Homeland Security is no longer just a river in Egypt, it’s a market sector all its own! Your Malibu mansion about to go up in flames? Just call Firebreak Spray Systems and stay snug in your library while the homes around you go up like matchsticks!

Hey Geffen! Guess you shoulda filled the moat!

Worried that the latest hurricane could have you huddling in the Superdome with the hoi polloi? Just call HelpJet and get whisked away to a five-star hotel room before the winds even start whistling through the bougainvillea.

Barbara Bush better not show her face round here or I will whip her sorry white ass.

But why even stick around to see how well the free market is going to solve the upcoming global environmental catastrophe? Follow the lead of the Bush clan, who recently bought a 98,840 acre parcel in Paraguay that came complete with immunity from prosecution for things done while not on vacation.

I thought waterboarding was what we used to do on the beach at Kennebunkport!

Fair enough, you’ve got the cash, but what about the whole image thing? Everybody still egged your Hummer, even after the HOPE campaign made it clear you were just trying to be prepared. Nobody eggs Boy Scouts for that! Can’t they see you’re just being rational? After all, if you don’t make a few last million off the end of civilization, your buddies at the club will – so there’s no stopping it.

C’mon boys! We can buy up Citigroup and be home in time for cocktails!

And it’s not like there’s cause for optimism. Even the greenies’ patron saint, James Lovelock, is predicting that global warming will result in the human race ending up as a handful of survivors nibbling roast harp seal at the North Pole. And the average peak oiler is just as gloomy, plotting in secret how to move the family to that eco-village or farm community in the wilderness before hoarding, panic and starvation set in upon the unsuspecting mass of city-dwellers.

Life in the 2030’s. That iPhone makes excellent bait.

But wait. What’s that twinge you’re feeling in your gut? It can’t be conscience – you had that surgically removed when they went in for the gall bladder. So what’s that tugging at you? I’m guessing it’s John Donne.

Dude, I had a goatee centuries before they were in.

Here’s what he said: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

For reference, this is a promontory. Donne really liked pasta.

Here’s my question: Have we given up so easily on civilization? Have we given up on the “others”, the ones who don’t know or don’t believe what’s coming? Will we build a wall or move to Paraguay or flee the city, and just leave them to get what they deserve?

Do we really believe we can survive if they don’t?

As one little frog on the island, I say: I won’t forget about you, if you won’t forget about me.