Putin Sworn in as Russian President…

Again. Like, for a third fucking time.

For those not in the loop, you kept seeing Putin with his shirt off when he wasn’t president because he went from president to prime minister(Over some bullshit technicality that doesn’t mean much to a BAWSE). Now he’s president again, and if he cares to make the land west of the Ural mountains fruitful for his oligarch buds then it’s necessary that he does something about the Caucasus region and the Central Asian population. By do something, I don’t mean cave in to the demands of racist assholes(a considerable chunk of protesters the media talks about), I’m talking about providing real opportunities to for a decent living. The Kremlin could do a lot better than put Russia’s fate in the hands of an old and dying population. Migrants and people of the Caucasus have stayed put in Russia at a time when many young people with skills took flight, along with Russia’s once impressive FDI.

None of this may matter outside of Russia, because the media’s approach to Moscow after the Arab Spring and OWS has been a delirious one. Massively exaggerated protest numbers, failure to point out xenophobic elements in the opposition, every piece is Russia just being an overall pain in the ass for democracy. We don’t want the opposition to vanish, it needs to exist because Putin is no angel, but  this is the route NYT and FP will take the majority of the time instead of providing substantial coverage detailing what is actually going on. Where are the stories on guys like Doku Umarov? What’s going on with Russia and the WTO? Customs agreements with the Stans? What will Russia’s relationship with Germany and France look like without Merkel and Sarkozy?  How’s the ruble performing? They were talking about replacing the dollar with the ruble(bullshit, I know) when making energy transactions at one point. It’s been almost three years since I used to read about Russia regularly, and the current state of their economy is a complete mystery to me now. Part of this is because no one outside of experts buried under sites I don’t frequent cared to talk about it since 2009, and I’m not digging that deep anymore. Lets hope the journalists, politicos and wonks do a better job talking Russia for Putin’s third term — that’s just about the only way to make next couple of years bearable.

I’m also gonna come out and say us young folks really need to stop fetishizing this dude like he isn’t a monster. At least until the next photo-op.

Oil Can Be Cool As Hell

As long as nobody dies for the profits…

On a more serious and disappointing note, I have another hastily written entry to share. A couple of things drove me to make this post. People bitching about gas prices(observed FROM MY BIKE), an FT article on young American bros putting handlebars before cars, and Argentina’s recent decision to nationalize their oil. All three of these items are good news to me, and I am in no way in league with big oil. I don’t even use vegetable oil.

The rise in oil prices mean resource nationalist countries that love(are smart enough) to use their nation’s energy to fuel social spending has a couple megabucks on the way. I’m cool with this because I just happen to be fond of socialist programs that are almost certainly propped up by liquid gold. one example of this would be Venezuela’s improved education system that has them sitting with a relatively high Education Development Index(EDI) score in comparison to its neighbors. Now one could argue that energy prices are too volatile to rest a nation’s future on, but what is stable? disequilibrium is a constant in capitalism, trotting along with vicious cycles, booms and busts- all depending upon who you ask(not horrible monsters). Shit that literally came from your piece of earth isn’t a completely bad thing to hang your hardhat on. I say go for it, enjoy your finite but nowhere near close to finished natural fossil based money machine while you can.

In the case of Americans turning away from cars- how is this not a great thing? I don’t know anyone who would interpret this as a negative outside of automobile companies, but oh well. I lived in NY, DC and now in LA(I feel like I lived a full life by saying this but I’m just a first year grad with the emotional maturity of a feral child), and at this stage in my life, a car is nothing but a status symbol, not a necessity. Public transportation works just fine, and I think a reasonable system is something every town or city with big aspirations should invest in. I also lived in a sort of small college town that had a bus and personal rapid transit system that also operated smoothly(assuming the rapid transit system was working). Cars were only truly needed at night when the PRT was down.

Argentina’s story is the most interesting of the three because as far as I know, it’s pretty unique. There’s always some level of backlash when a country decides to nationalize their oil/gas, and these cries are usually heard from morbidly obese pigs/private entities who fed on oil long enough. The claim is investment is no longer desirable if Argentina plans to sell the majority of the oil at home and at door buster prices, and this is true if that’s actually the case. I seriously doubt this though. What I’m wondering is just what percent of this oil will be sold on the cheap to keep domestic firms competitive. If it’s just a drop in the bucket, then clearly the likes of Spain are overreacting. If not, and Argentina manages to go through with this- will there be any measurement of just how successful this move was? Only time will tell. I’m glad I blogged about this, otherwise I may end up forgetting to check it out in the future.

It has come to my attention(in the form of a tweet), in the middle of writing this – that prices have experienced a bit of a drop in the past couple days. This doesn’t really change what I said since none of its validity is dependent upon constantly rising prices in the now. Just something to keep in mind. Btw, I wrote this on the way home from the beach and on my iPhone, heh.