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The Off-Ramps Never Used

2017 May 19
by Ian Welsh

This is an old joke:

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

A short time later, the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

A little time later, a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder, and said: “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”

All this time, the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived in heaven, he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room, he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me! I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

I am watching, right now, the British, offered an off-ramp by Jeremy Corbyn, and refusing it. Corbyn has been right in his life about almost everything: He was against every bad war, he was against cutting welfare, he was against privatizations, he was against bad trade deals, and bailouts, and so on.

More than this, he acted on that: He voted against them, spoke against them, marched against them. He has not taken bribes, he has not charged the taxpayer for fancy hotels or booze. He is a man of integrity who can reasonably be expected to do what he says.

Like all men of integrity, that means he won’t always tell you want to hear, but that’s the price you pay if you want an actual honest person in charge.

So, of course, Brits are going to elect May, a truly horrid woman who is complicit in taking wheelchairs away from the poor, and a thousand other things you can read about if you have the curiosity of a turnip and access to a search engine.

Many rowing boats, helicopters, and so on have been offered throughout my life. I remember the warnings about inequality rising from the mid 80s. I remember the warnings about climate change, also from the mid 80s. (They existed earlier, but I was too young.)

Candidates ran who were good on these things, including presidential candidates like Kucinich. They were laughed at and ridiculed. Everyone knows that you can’t actually tax rich people, forbid corruption, or not destroy the ecosphere’s ability to support human life for profit.

People screamed from the rooftops. Many many books were published. People went on TV. Huge marches occurred.

But candidates who would actually reverse bad policy were jokes. “Hahahaha. Only suckers want to do the right thing. He’s not a credible candidate, we have to vote for someone evil, just a little less evil than the most evil candidate!”


The off-ramps were there. They were offered time and time again. And we refused them, time and time again.

At some point, the off-ramps will run out. In fact, they already have. All the off-ramps now lead to “OMG THIS IS SUCKSVILLE.” But the off-ramps coming up, and pretty damn soon, are labelled “First Level of Hell.”

The current catastrophes and the upcoming ones were all affirmatively chosen and then re-affirmed repeatedly by voting majorities or pluralities, and by the elites of every major country.

When you die, if there is a God, don’t ask him why he didn’t send help. Ask him why we didn’t accept it.

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107 Responses
  1. different clue permalink
    May 22, 2017


    Your “proper order of falling dominos” statement is interesting: Movement –> Party –> Candidates.”

    I would suggest a firstest-of-allest domino before Movement, and that would be Culture. The Black Civil/Human Rights Revolution might be considered an illustration of that.
    Black Church Culture –> Civil Rights Movement –> firm presence in the Democratic Party –> pro-Civil Rights candidates.

    Following this order of domino-building: A visible Energy Conservation Culture of Energy Conservation Lifestylers –> A forced Energy Conservation Movement –> a Forced Energy Conservation presence in a Party or else a Dedicated Forced Energy Conservation Party –> Forced Conservation Candidates.

  2. highrpm permalink
    May 22, 2017

    david foster wallace gave up hope when he accepted that society statistics were on the side of entertain me.

  3. Peter permalink
    May 23, 2017


    Compressed air energy storage has been used for about 150 years and it has useful applications. The best conversion efficiency today produces about a 25% loss and that cost must be added to the cost of the electricity coming out of the system.

    This is where the economics of this generate to store scheme begins to fray. First you talk about overbuilding the solar plant to produce this excess power which is extremely expensive and must be reflected in the electricity costs. Then you depend on a storage system that must be built and paid for so it can lose 25% of that excess power.

    Solar power is competitive, priced between coal and gas and unless gas prices rise dramatically it will stay in that position, none of them are cheap. These CAES systems seem useful as emergency backups but wouldn’t function after a few rainy days.

    The system used now to backup solar power seems the most efficient and practical. Gas fired generators are on standby ready to pick up the load during any solar outage while coal plants can cover the normal 17 hour down time intrinsic to solar. New gas fired plants are replacing old coal plants and even without the CPP that will continue.

  4. karenjj2 permalink
    May 25, 2017

    @ Peter: You missed the part about the battery packs also will be employed in power walls in conjunction with Solar City which is doing roof installations. The power walls are expected to last 4 days w/o full sunlight. The batteries are designed to be fully recycled in the same plant. The Tesla S will use the same power pack.

    The Tesla gigafactory is actually designed as a machine to take in raw materials and produce finished product –which is as revolutionary a concept as Ford’s assembly line.

  5. tsisageya permalink
    May 26, 2017

    Jokes are supposed to be funny. Goodbye.

  6. Peter permalink
    May 26, 2017


    I’ll agree that Tesla’s new plant is smart and innovative and is probably subsidized by the state. The power wall is another good product for the wealthy consumers who can afford these systems with tax breaks paid for by people who can’t afford them. This leisure class solar segment is growing even though the solar roof and solar wall cost as much as many people’s homes do.

    The EPA states that the Tesla car produces a CO2 equivalent of 50% of a gasoline powered car which is a great improvement but it is not clean just less polluting.

  7. different clue permalink
    May 29, 2017


    Which gas-powered car is a Tesla supposed to skydump half as much carbon as?

    I bet a Tesla car skydumps MORE carbon than some of these gas-powered micro-cars.

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