Them Bones, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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9 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    Actually, in a *truly* free market, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" *will* cause the market to self-regulate.Unfortunately, we haven't seen a truly free market in the last century or so; it's rigged for the benefit of the Powers That Be (whether they be commercial interests or their political "partners"/servitors).Energy prices – prices in general – in the US have been held artificially low, at the expense of the rest of the world, for decades if not longer.As John D McDonald once pointed out through Travis McGee's economist friend, Meyer, the US, with something like 5% of the world's population, consumes something like forty percent (perhaps more) of the world's resources. If you divide the material wealth of the US by the number of its citizens, and then multiply by the number of people in the world as a whole, you discover that to provide the world as a whole with even a fraction of the standard of living that we in the US often consider our god-given right is impossible.Not difficult – impossible.So long as we stay confined to this one dirtball, anyway.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Connecting the bones –If our way of life is dependent on comsuming that much more of the world's resources, and other nation's economies get more competitive, our way of life inevitably will not remain the same. It'll worsen for most of us — except maybe for those who at the very top.There are some answers but none which work for those interests currently at the top level — i.e. the oil companies.As for Adam Smith's theory — I think it's just a fine theory because i don't think you'll ever see a "truly" free market any more than you ever saw "real" communisim" or "real" Chrstianity and so on. They all get tied up in the real world which is not perfect. Which is why capitalism works, IMO. It's not based on the world being perfect, which has never been demonstrated. it's based on greed — which has been amply demonstrated.

  2. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    "Oil is a non-renewable natural resource. There’s a finite amount of the stuff. "This is a misconception that many people hold. It's not as if only the dead plant and dinosaur matter that was in the earth earlier than 5:00 PM, Tuesday, March the 14th, 3,000,000 BC can be used to make oil. There's a lot of pools of carboniferous liquid in the Earth that isn't oil yet, but will be in a few hundred or thousand years.While I certainly agree that it is being used up far, FAR more quickly than it is being created, and should not be taken into account when figuring out our solutions, it's a point I always like to bring up. Yeah, I know it's akin to those people who correct you when you say "She eats like a bird", but hey, we all have out faults…mine's in CaliforniaBack to the issue at hand. India and China are using FAR more oil than they used to. Demand is increasing across the board, and OPEC is not sufficiently increasing supply to match that demand. That is a far greater part of the rising price of oil than many people realize, or care to point out. And considering America's current hate affair with anyone wearing a turban, I'm amazed that isn't getting more play and that they aren't getting more blame in the media.Well, tell a lie; I'm NOT surprised, because it's much more popular and easy to blame a "Big" something. In this case, Big Oil. The american oil companies are making an approximate ten percent profit margin on oil. Ten percent is a very reasonable profit margin. Yes, when you're talking about 500 billion dollars in sales, it's still a staggering amount of money. Yes, they could reduce their profit margin by a point or two and STILL make a staggering sum of money, but why should they, or any company HAVE to, especially when their profit margin is already pretty reasonable? I could get a better return than that in the stock market with a little cautious investing and a bit of research. Mostly by investing in oil companies.People don't hear (or get told) ten percent; they hear "500 billion dollars" and mistakenly assume that's how much the companies are making. So when the government starts talking about an additional tax on the oil companies, people cheer. The government makes more money on gasoline than the oil companies do, by I believe four or five-fold. So a gas tax holiday will never happen, because not only would it be just a Band-Aid (Brand adhesive strip) as you say, it would also drive home to the American public exactly how much of the cost of a gallon of gas is going towards taxes. They don't want people to know that.The main place the price of oil gets jacked up is in the speculators' market. While I am a free market supporter, there are certain things which I do feel should be left alone and not speculated on, things like energy and private homes. It's the speculators who saw flipping homes as an easy way to make a pile of cash who were more responsible for the current credit crunch than the media cares to discuss, because it's much sexier to talk about the poor people who were "tricked" into taking mortgages. Certain areas of the economy are just too connected to too many other things (as you state so lyrically) to be used for uncontrolled profit, but I can't see a way to control them without turning our back on the free market system. Seems to me that the government shold be used like a claw and not a crowbar. Pull it out when you need to, and make people fear its use. Let the speculator market know the government is considering some controlling mechanism, and watch them build one of their own. It worked for the film industry, the comics industry, and a lot more.As for the use of oil itself, we should, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be cutting back on our use of oil. We should oughta have been starting 20 years ago. Even if the price was still reasonable, the fact that we are relying on the lion's share of our energy needs from a volatile part of the world that cannot be predicted or controlled should be a warning sign right there. Those past choices cannot be changed, and continuing to carp on them is counterproductive. The best solution, IMHO o'course, is a three-pronged attack. Short term – increase the supply of oil, specifically domestically-controlled oil. Long-term – more research in alternative energy generation. Full-term – more judicious use of energy across the board, in both small ways and large. To the best of my knowledge, NOBODY in power is advocating all three of those. No one piece is the solution – it's got to be a multi-level attack. Nuclear power has been all but ruined as a viable option in this country, thanks to the environmentalist movement. And nobody (especially Senators from Massachusetts) wants a wind farm in their neighborhood, because they make noise, or the blinking shadows of the rotating vanes will give them epilepsy or some such crap. Heck, there'e people out there fighting against the current svior of us all, the flourescent lightbulb, because the amount of mercury in them will screw up the soil when they get thrown away. You can't win.Seems to me the oil companies should accept that they are in a business that will eventually go south, whether due to running out of product (which isn't going to happen anytime REALLY soon, contrary to what the environmemtalist extreme will tell you) or due to decreased use. It seems to me the oil companies should be on the forefront of discovering those alternative resources, so they'll be in on the ground floor and own the patents, so they can keep making money.Ethanol is NOT the answer. Ethanol is rapidly becoming more of a problem than oil. Corn is becoming as much of a speculatory crop as oil. Plus…you don't burn your food. There are people starving in China and India.

  3. Martha Thomases says:

    I think windmills are quite beautiful. I'd love to have one on my lawn, if I ever get I get a lawn.

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      If I hit the powerball, I'd have a windfarm, those roof shingles that double as solar cells that Jeff Daniels talks about in his radio ads for Michigan, and a solar heat collector for the pool.And all my cars would have "Hydrocarbon powered eco-vehicle" stickers like my current one does.

  4. Jon M says:

    Heh. "Grim Jacket". Typos can be fun.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I sit on the Board of Directors for a bank – and four percent has been the rule of thumb for profit as long as I've been there. Ten percent profit, (assuming that's accurate) seems like a pretty unreasonable cash-grab to me.

    • Mike Gold says:

      How's Exxon's $1,300 a second profit rank?

    • Russ Rogers says:

      Let's take a look at the American Pharmaceutical Industry, where 15% to 20% profit margins are de rigueur. It's positively pornographic. Profit margins of 5% are considered good for most industry. Commercial Banking can see profits of 13%+. (But, I bet that's not happening this year. Not for most commercial banks.) But nothing comes close to the cash grabs done by Pharmaceutical Companies. Why? It's because we don't have a standard curve of supply and demand. Even with oil, if gas prices go up too high, you can take the bus or drive less. There are ways to control demand. But if you if you have a disease, especially a deadly disease, not taking the best medicine available isn't an option. And I don't believe the Pharmaceutical Industry's argument that inflated profit margins are needed to fund new research. First, because drug companies spend WAY more on advertising than research. And second, because countries like Canada, that have socialized medicine pay WAY less for drugs than are paid in the U.S.. Even if it were true that drug companies need inflated profits to produce research, why is the World's Drug Research being funded by inflated U.S. prices?Yeah, the Oil Industry has us over a barrel. I think the choice of the Oil Industry to not build new refineries in the U.S over the last twenty years has less to do with the costs of regulation and more to do with wanting to maintain a tight control over supply. The Pharmaceutical Industry, by comparison, has us by the short hairs.