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

David Travis blissett at optonline.net
Fri Sep 1 01:54:07 EDT 2006

Rain Tenaqiya wrote:
> 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? 

     I think this all depends on how we choose to respond to an energy 
crisis as communities. It could radically reduce the middle class -- a 
class which has been on the decline already -- for many of the reasons 
you lay out here, but also for reasons relating to land ownership. 
Instead of a middle-class building homesteads, a rapidly deteriorating 
economy could have us become sharecroppers and tenant farmers beholden 
to the land and resources available only to the remaining ultra-rich.

     On the other hand, there are ways we could respond to an 
oil-engendered economic crisis that could not only preserve but expand 
the middle-class. It would be very hard to come up with alternatives to 
petroleum products all on your own, but it wouldn't be hard if you were 
part of a relocalized economy where there were cooperatively owned 
businesses which -- in addition to homesteading and farming themselves 
-- might specialize in manufacturing some time-saving products for extra 
cash. It would still be much more labor intensive than what we have now, 
but it would be much easier than doing it all yourself. This could also 
be integrated into other systems that could help preserve an active 
middle-class -- local cooperative businesses bureaus, alternative 
currencies and community credit unions, mutual aid networks, and all 
sorts of other techniques could be used to pick up the slack left over 
from a dying global economy.

      It's just a matter of creativity and time. Unfortunately, both of 
those things can tend to stay in short supply right up until moment our 
backs are to the wall.

- David

More information about the permaculture mailing list