[permaculture] end of cheap oil= end of middle class?

Rain Tenaqiya raincascadia at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 1 00:39:30 EDT 2006

I haven't done much research, but doesn't it make sense that the end of cheap oil will radically reduce the size of the middle class in the US?  All that cheap oil, which replaced the nearly free labor of slaves freed up a large segment of the population to do white collar work and made it possible to produce all the affordable gadgets that make the middle class lifestyle what it is today.  If prices go way up, less people will be able to afford these gadgets, which will undermine the economies of scale that make mass production possible.  Say goodbye to cheap computers, telephones, cars, as well as the pumps, photovoltaic panels, water tanks, metal roofing and fencing, and all the plastic that makes a rural permaculture lifestyle easy.  The permaculture homestead that I am creating today may only be possible for the rich of tomorrow.
  As oil becomes more scarce, the middle class is going to have to start doing physical labor again (watch those precious waistlines trim down!), and let me tell you, the work to live without fossil fuels is hard work, especially when setting systems up.  I'm not promoting doom and gloom, but I think it might be naive to expect that all the handy little machines and materials that we associate with modern permaculture systems will be available to the masses in the future (40 years from now?).  In setting up my own site and building my own house, I am even more painfully aware of how much even my own relatively purist lifestyle is dependent on fossil fuels.  I am really hoping that plastic doesn't disappear, especially plastic pipe.  My spring is .6 mile away and I really love indoor plumbing and drip irrigation!
  What do y'all think?

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