Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

The paradox of middle-class aspiration

In Around the web on September 30, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Thanks to Herb Ruhs

[This Guardian article is as cogent an assessment of economic paradox in the US as I have found. The paradox of middle-class aspiration:Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy? -HR]

Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy?

The generally accepted explanation of why many Americans, even those that are poor, are opposed to raising taxes for the rich is the enduring belief in upward social mobility or that they may one day be rich themselves. We still believe America is the land of opportunity. You can be born in the ghetto and rise to super stardom. A welfare recipient from a broken home may become president. But the truth is, for the vast majority of people, these dreams are out of reach and, in fact, the US actually has the lowest social mobility of any industrialised nation.

Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy?

One thing we can thank the Great Recession for is that it has finally drawn attention to the growing inequality in American society. Any study or report you care to look at leads to the same sorry conclusion: the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class are disappearing. These trends have accelerated since 2000, but they have been in place for decades; yet, a large percentage of people who are suffering as a result of the inequality seem to favour, or at least tolerate, the policies that perpetuate it.


Bruce Anderson Sues Supervisor Kendall Smith: Give the taxpayers back their money!

In Around Mendo Island on September 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

From UDJ

Newspaper editor Bruce Anderson, in his capacity as a taxpayer, took the first step Wednesday toward filing a small-claims lawsuit against Mendocino County for failing to reclaim $3,087 of travel reimbursements overpaid to 4th District Supervisor Kendall Smith.

Anderson, who is editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, filed a claim as an individual against the county seeking to recover the amount on behalf of the county’s taxpayers.

His claim states, “We do not seek to recover any funds ourselves, but we demand the county recover $3,087 (as documented by the Mendocino County grand jury) plus all applicable costs, fees, interest and penalties from Supervisor Smith since the time of her claim.”

Smith allegedly claimed reimbursement for business trips between her Fort Bragg home and Ukiah from January 2005 until November 2006, “when there was no actual travel and when her cost of overnight lodging was little or nothing because she either stayed with friends or in a room which she rented for $100 per month (in Ukiah),” according to a letter District Attorney Meredith Lintott wrote in 2008 to Smith’s former attorney in the matter.

Anderson notes the claim is “preparatory” to seeking an injunction that would require the county to recover the money Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Meredith Ford determined Smith was overpaid, a calculation Ford said she did at the behest of the grand jury.

“Damages are suffered by the citizens of Mendocino County who are deprived of the use of funds wrongfully given to Supervisor Kendall Smith,” Anderson’s claim states more

Transition Streets

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

Double Click on Video for Full View

Dan Hamburg: Obama Declares Wrong Emergency

In Around the web on September 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm


It’s often said by supporters of President Obama, with some justification, that too much has been expected of him. Sure he went in with high ideals about moving the country in a more progressive direction, but the reality of money and power in the nation’s capital have rendered him unable-at least in the two years he’s been in office-to achieve the objectives he so glowingly promised.

Contrary to this view of the president’s predicament, we would direct our fellow citizens’ attention to the action taken by the president on September 10. On that day, the White House released the text of a letter sent by Mr. Obama to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi entitled “Letter from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks”. more

The O Man (Updated)

In Around the web on September 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Double Click on Video for Full View

“You Elected Me To Do What Was Right”

“We don’t quit!”


Obama’s speech to Gen44 tonight knocked my socks off. It’s streaming on CSPAN here. If you’ve forgotten why many of you worked your ass off for this guy, and felt hope for the first time in many years, watch it. He deserves criticism when necessary as this blogazine has not shied from at times. But he remains in my judgment the best option this country still has left – and it’s far too easy for the left and far too dangerous for serious conservatives and independents to abandon him now.

What I particularly loved about the speech was his direct attack on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Pledge To America, the $700 billion it means we will have to borrow from China to sustain the unsustainable Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year. And what I agreed with was his embrace of government that is lean and efficient, because these are times when the government is necessary to help reverse self-evident decline, mounting fiscal crisis, deeply dangerous enemies, and socially dangerous inequality, exploited at home by ugly demagogues and know-nothing nihilists. Here is his invocation of Lincoln’s core argument about the role of government:

I believe the government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.

Then this passage where he soared like he hasn’t since the campaign:

I believe in a country that rewards hard work and responsibility, a country where we look after one other, a country that says I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, I’m going to give a hand up, join hands with folks and try to lift all of us up so we all have a better future, not just some – but all of us. That’s what I believe.

I do too. I do not believe for a second that the GOP of Palin and Boehner and Beck and DeMint represents anything but more debt, more war, more social division and more denial about the deeply serious problems this country faces and the profound dangers that are metastasizing in the world. I have no love for the Democrats but I do fervently believe that this president’s record is far better than many now fashionably claim, that his inheritance was beyond awful, and I am not giving up on this president’s immense task now, and neither, in my judgment, should any of those who voted for him in 2008.

Know hope; and fight the cynicism and nihilism that is increasingly the alternative.

Ben and Jerry’s admits ice-cream with a liberal conscience not ‘all natural’

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on September 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm


Unilever’s premium brand abandons claim after US food health watchdog notes use of unnatural ingredients such as corn syrup

[OMG! Stabbed in the heart! -DS]

Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, have had a difficult relationship with Unilever. Cohen said when the firm was bought by the multinational it was ‘just about the worst day of my life’.

The carefully cultivated socially liberal image of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has suffered a knock with a decision by the Vermont-based manufacturer to stop calling its food “all natural” following pressure from a watchdog that questioned whether ingredients such as partially hydrogenated soya bean oil fitted the billing. more

Book Review: An Investigation into the World’s Most Hated Company

In Books on September 29, 2010 at 8:54 am


Once upon a time, a chemical company in St. Louis discovered that normal limits did not apply to it. Whether its products sickened an entire town in the Midwest or poisoned villagers in Southeast Asia, things seemed to break its way. Regulators seemed reluctant to regulate, and judges delivered stupefying decisions with straight faces.

Microsoft’s monopolistic behavior resulted in trial conviction, and heavy penalties. Top executives of Archer Daniels Midland went to prison for price-fixing. Meanwhile the corporation with the sweet Spanish name went on a global tear, flooding the American food supply with dubious genetics, seeding government agencies with sympathizers, intimidating opponents, buying the loyalty of scientists, and transforming the rural landscape in country after country, always for the worse. Only the European Union, resisted it with some success. Only one of its major projects, transgenic wheat, was blocked decisively. more

Nutrition: Can something as simple as sea minerals be more effective than all the high-tech drugs and vaccines?

In Books on September 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Newspapers, magazines and electronic media outlets all over the world recently announced a break-through vaccine that will hopefully protect women against breast cancer.

The following report — from CBS — is typical of what was said by numerous sources: “In the current study, genetically cancer-prone mice were vaccinated — half with a vaccine containing the antigen and half with a vaccine that did not contain the antigen. None of the mice vaccinated with the antigen developed breast cancer, while all the other mice did.”

Dr. Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D., the principal investigator on the project to create the vaccine, sums up the impact: “We believe this vaccine will some day be used to prevent breast cancer in adult women in the same way that vaccines prevent polio and measles in children. If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental.” more

Transition Culture: Solving For Pattern

In Mendo Island Transition on September 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

Transtion Culture

My years as a teacher taught me that if one person asks a question, even if they think they are “missing something obvious”, chances are that many others are wondering the same thing.  This is probably an opportune moment in the rolling out of this patterns approach to stop and take stock as to whether everyone is still with me here!  This was triggered by an email I received yesterday from Kate Clark:

“As a member of a Transition initiating group (Transition Whatcom) and a huge proponent of Transition, I have a lot of respect for your work. However, I am finding the term and concept of “Pattern language” to be very vague and frustrating.  I keep trying to make sense of it, as if I can find a ‘pattern’ in the language (repeat first sentence once, second sentence three times, then first sentence twice, then repeat the whole pattern five times?)!  Can you send me a single sentence description of pattern language? Where is the pattern? What is the language- do you mean permaculture terminology?  Sorry if I’m being dense. I’m a communications specialist, and finding this one to be so vague that I feel I must be missing something obvious. I have NO idea how to explain this to anyone else, as a result”.


Letter to the Editor — The AVA

In Around Mendo Island, Dave Smith on September 28, 2010 at 8:01 am


To: The Anderson Valley Advertiser


A friend, author Gene Logsdon, recently wrote a book published by a major publisher: Holy Shit – Managing Manure to Save Mankind. In his blog, Gene lamented that Prairie Public Radio interviewed him and the Chronicle of Higher Education praised his latest book, in both cases carefully avoiding mentioning the title, which includes one of George Carlin‘s “seven dirty words you can never say on television” or on the radio or in major print media.

For example, a current bestseller is titled, Sh*t My Dad Says. Childishly, and hypocritically, we in America are shielded by our media from the most used, or second most used, word in the English language for fear of offending the three fundamentalist church ladies who still shudder at its mention.

The AVA may be the only newspaper in America where, in many more ways than one, shit really is shit. We shall see.

Noam Chomsky: The Iranian Threat

In Around the web on September 27, 2010 at 9:57 pm


The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. General Petraeus informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2010 that “the Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability” in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East and Central Asia, the primary region of US global concerns. The term “stability” here has its usual technical meaning: firmly under US control. In June 2010 Congress strengthened the sanctions against Iran, with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding US offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia, claimed by Britain, which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacks in the Central Command area. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group. more

19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind

In Around the web on September 27, 2010 at 8:09 am


The United States is rapidly becoming the very first “post-industrial” nation on the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing.

It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes. It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II. But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America. Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone. Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period. The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little.

Do you know what our biggest export is today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us. The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now just a shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined. Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume more

‘Conservatism’ Has Turned Into ‘Crackpotism’

In Around the web on September 27, 2010 at 7:48 am


If you can think of a better, more apt term, please let this columnist know.

I’m at a loss for words, so I need your help.

Not so long ago, Republican officeholders in our country were conservatives, a political philosophy that literally encompasses the notion of conservation. Those Republicans wanted to conserve important things–including our public infrastructure, the rule of law, public education, and even our environment. During the last 30 years, though, voters in the GOP’s primaries systematically culled these classic conservatives from office, replacing them with right-wing, laissez-faire ideologues. These new-breed Republicans largely rejected our country’s commitment to the common good, instead supporting privatization of government functions and tax favoritism for the corporate elite.

The media, however, made no linguistic adjustment to this fundamental change in philosophy, simply shifting the “conservative” label to the right-wingers. But if they can be called conservative, what the hell do we call the new new-breed Republicans who’re presently displacing those politicos who displaced the actual conservatives?

This year, the Republican primary races went from plain old right-wingism to right-wing crackpotism. In Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado, Delaware, New York, Kentucky, and elsewhere, many GOP nominees to Congress and other offices are farther out than Pluto! “End Social Security,” they rant. “Stop punishing BP,” “Cut off unemployment benefits to jobless Americans,” more

OK, I Was Wrong — We Don’t All Have to Eat Vegan to Save the Planet

In Around the web, Books on September 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm

The Guardian

I used to think being a vegan was the only ethical way to eat. But an important new book suggests we can change our food system to allow for healthy meat consumption.

This will not be an easy column to write. I am about to put down 1,200 words in support of a book that starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport. But it has persuaded me that I was wrong. More to the point, it has opened my eyes to some fascinating complexities in what seemed to be a black and white case.

In the Guardian in 2002 I discussed the sharp rise in the number of the world’s livestock, and the connection between their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. After reviewing the figures, I concluded that veganism “is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue”. I still believe that the diversion of ever wider tracts of arable land from feeding people to feeding livestock is iniquitous and grotesque. So does the book I’m about to discuss. I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.

In Meat: A Benign Extravagance, [Available in US January 2011] Simon Fairlie pays handsome tribute to vegans for opening up the debate. more

Sheila Fetzer & Bob Daley, Mendocino Hotel Tonight 9/25/10

In Around Mendo Island on September 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

Hooked On Growth – Life After Growth

In Around Mendo Island, Around the web on September 25, 2010 at 8:16 am


[This column dedicated to Wendy Roberts and her 'dumb-growth ideology' supporters. "Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities. Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point and stops growing. You are not growing anymore, nor he nor me. But we continue developing ourselves... So development has no limits. Growth has limits. And that is a very big thing, you know, that economists and politicians don’t understand. They are obsessed with the fetish of economic growth." As Wendy Roberts says, "polling indicates that Dan is right that the 'growing on our own strengths' is the winning argument." Vote for a smart, local, healthy, sustainable economy. Vote for Dan Hamburg, 5th District Supervisor. -DS]

Dave Gardner’s upcoming documentary looks at modern society and asks, why are we behaving irrationally? There’s overwhelming evidence we’ve reached the limits to growth, yet continue in our addiction to it. In a search for the cure, Dave starts with the need to tell different stories and shares examples from several folks he’s interviewed. He highlights an amusing segment which depicts a family’s impacts remaining in their yard! This “crowd-produced” film will also show activities at the community level which could make a huge positive difference.

Economic Growth
Job Growth, Increasing Production And More Consumption – Holy Grail Or Siren Songs Leading Us To Destruction?

* In our documentary, Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, our examination of population, more

Wendy Roberts’ Dirty Tricks Campaign

In Around Mendo Island on September 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

Mendocino County Listservs

The Press Democrat article ended with these two sentences: “Hamburg is a Green Party member who generally is embraced by the county’s liberal, no-growth and alternative living crowd. Roberts is a democrat who claims liberal credentials, but her supporters include some of the county’s staunchest conservatives.” This goes to the heart of the issue of who is supporting Wendy Roberts and why.  Apparently more than a few major Roberts supporters don’t live in the Fifth District: e.g. Jared Carter, a right-wing lawyer who has made a decades long career of serving every destructive corporate entity with interests in the county. Clearly their agenda is to get a third pro-”development” vote on the Board of Supervisors who will reliably support whatever the big money interests want.  They are willing to invest big bucks in Wendy, betting that their investment will be small compared to the big payback they anticipate.

The FPPC says: “Easily accessible and transparent disclosure of political information lies at the heart of any democracy.” I fully agree with that statement, so I call for Wendy Roberts to make a complete, easily accessible and transparent disclosure of who her political backers are, more

Democracy Now: Greed is the dominant value in the world today

In Around the web on September 24, 2010 at 9:19 am

Thanks to Tom Davenport

Guest: Manfred Max-Neef, Chilean economist. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his book Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics.

AMY GOODMAN: While President Obama is reporting looking into tapping a former corporate executive to become his next top economic adviser, many economists question the path the United States is on. Last week, during our trip to Bonn, Germany, I had a chance to speak with the acclaimed Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his bookOutside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. I began by asking him to explain what barefoot economics is.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Well, it’s a metaphor, but a metaphor that originated in a concrete experience. I worked for about ten years of my life in areas of extreme poverty in the Sierras, in the jungle, in urban areas in different parts of Latin America. And at the beginning of that period, I was one day in an Indian village in the Sierra in Peru. It was an ugly day. It had been raining all the time. And I was standing in the slum. And across me, another guy also standing in the mud—not in the slum, in the mud. And, well, we looked at each other, and this was a short guy, thin, hungry, jobless, five kids, a wife and a grandmother. And I was the fine economist from Berkeley, teaching in Berkeley, more

Despair, Hope, and the Built World

In Around the web on September 24, 2010 at 9:04 am


A description of the human condition: we are habituated to the world long before we become aware of it, and we are aware of it long before we are aware of our habituation to it.

This assumes, of course, that we ever become aware of our habituation. But, whatever our awareness, the fact of our habituation does not change. We are “at home.”

But it is difficult for me to believe that anyone aware of his habituation can remain “at home” in the world for long—I mean this scientized technological everything’s-for-sale world we’re habituated to. If the world isn’t exactly the dung heap (and we the maggots that crawl upon it) that Dulcinea pronounced it to be, it surely isn’t the sort of place we can look at and be particularly proud of or comfortable in. We may be at home, but we are at home only in a kind of somnambulant homelessness. Something needs remodeling, even if we aren’t exactly sure what it is.

But that “something” is precisely what’s at stake. So let us look about.

We are habituated to an immersive ugliness in architecture, civic design, and infrastructure. We are habituated, if not also addicted, more

(Breaking) Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus

In Around the web on September 23, 2010 at 7:19 am

Thanks to Ron Epstein

WASHINGTON—According to a poll released Tuesday, nearly 20 percent of U.S. citizens now believe Barack Obama is a cactus, the most Americans to identify the president as a water- retaining desert plant since he took office.

A growing segment of the population believes the president is pollinated by moths and hummingbirds.

The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found a sharp rise in the number of Americans who say they firmly believe Obama was either born a cactus, became a cactus during his youth, or has questionable links to the Cactaceae family.

“We asked people of varying races, ages, and backgrounds the same question: ‘What is President Barack Obama?’” Pew spokeswoman Jodi Miller told reporters. “And a fifth of them responded, ‘A cactus.’”

According to the poll, Obama has lost favor among many voters who supported his candidacy in 2008 but have since come to doubt he is a mammal. While these Americans concede Obama may not specifically be a cactus, most believe he is a plant of some kind, with 18 percent saying the president is a ficus, 37 percent believing him to be a grain such as wheat or millet, and 12 percent convinced he is an old-growth forest in Northern California. more

Doctor’s Orders: Eat Well to Be Well

In Around the web on September 23, 2010 at 7:17 am

From NYT
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Oakland–Dr. Preston Maring was striding along a hospital corridor at double speed on a recent Friday morning, his tall frame, white hair and frequent gesticulations prompting waves of greetings from colleagues, who also took care to sidestep his forward momentum. His destination was the weekly farmers’ market he started in 2003, just outside the front door at the Kaiser Permanente medical center here.

“Since it’s mine, I made the rules — all organic,” he said as he skimmed by a line of stalls where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold to hospital workers, passers-by and even, he said, those bringing patients to the emergency room.

Dr. Maring, 64, a gynecologist and obstetrician with three decades as a surgeon, is well known as a former physician in chief at the hospital, the man who spearheaded the creation of its new pediatric neurosurgery unit.

But increasingly, his reputation and perpetual motion revolve around his conviction that in the health professions, the kitchen must become as crucial as the clinic. Food is at the center of health and illness, he argues, and so doctors must make all aspects of it — growing, buying, cooking, eating — a mainstay of their medical educations, their personal lives and their practices.

Though Dr. Maring blithely refers to himself as “that food nut around the hospital,” more

Bruce Patterson: PTSD

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 22, 2010 at 11:33 am

Anderson Valley

“It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others.” –Thomas Jefferson

The late comedian George Carlin did a bit about Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (back then it wasn’t called a Disorder). During WW1, Carlin reminded us, we called it “shell shock.” Now those two words pack some punch, don’t they? It’s shocking language, really. So during WW2 we started calling it “combat fatigue.” As if war makes a soldier sleepy and, after a nap, milk and cookies, he’s as good as new. During Vietnam we started calling it Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it? You’re given a choice between “trauma” and “post-trauma”—which are you going to take? Experiencing “Stress” is something we can all sympathize with. Getting stuck in traffic is stressful. And who knows what a “Syndrome” is? Yet it’s a pretty word that rolls off the tongue… more

Gene Logsdon: Selling A Book That Has No Name

In Guest Posts on September 22, 2010 at 9:24 am


Prairie Public Radio interviewed me recently about my latest book, Holy Shit. The interviewer was kind about my writing. He knew a lot about farming which is rarely the case but always a relief when discussing agriculture before an urban audience. The only problem was that he did not mention the title of the book during the entire interview! He said that he would get fired if he did. Regulations forbid the utterance of that awful word, shit, even when it is in the title of a book.

It happened again. The excellent website, The Chronicle of Higher Education, referred to my book with kind praise, even calling it “charming.” But never once did the reviewer give the title of the book. Policy, he said.

Several years ago, I wrote an article for The Draft Horse Journal in which I felt obliged out of sheer honesty to use the naughty word. This proved to be a problem for Maury Telleen, the editor. He didn’t have a problem actually, but his lovely wife, Jeannine, (they are two of my favorite people) ruled the roost when it came to proofreading and she did not intend for the naughty word to soil her publication. They compromised and rendered the word more

Mendocino County Health Care News

In Around Mendo Island on September 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

Mendocino County

There remains among the public a great deal of uncertainty about how President Obama’s health care initiative will impact health costs and protect consumers. The new law continues to take center stage in an increasingly heated political climate.

We believe that as provisions designed to protect consumers become law, and as election-season fervor subsides, the mood around country and county will allow for a less cynical outlook on the most important piece of social reform in the last half century.

First Health Care Reform Provisions Enacted

On the six month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage, a series of important reforms mark the first steps of the health industry overhaul.

As of September 23rd, all private health plans will be prohibited from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. In addition, all private health insurers will be prohibited from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Annual limits will also be subject to strict regulation. more

They’re Tracking What You Browse Online

In Around the web on September 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm

From NYT
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

Sandra Person Burns used to love browsing and shopping online. Until she realized she was being tracked by software on her computer that she thought she had erased.

Sandra Person Burns is among those taking legal action against companies that track computer users’ activity on the Internet.

Ms. Person Burns, 67, a retired health care executive who lives in Jackson, Miss., said she is wary of online shopping: “Instead of going to Amazon, I’m going to the local bookstore.”

Ms. Person Burns is one of a growing number of consumers who are taking legal action against companies that track computer users’ activity on the Internet. At issue is a little-known piece of computer code placed on hard drives by the Flash program from Adobe when users watch videos on popular Web sites like YouTube and Hulu.

The technology, so-called Flash cookies, is bringing an increasing number of federal lawsuits against media and technology companies and growing criticism from some privacy advocates who say the software more

Skill Up, Party Down

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 21, 2010 at 8:53 am

Rob Hopkins, Founder, Transition Towns


Transition Towns plan a gentle descent from oil dependence—and have a blast in the process.

Ciaran Mundy, a successful high-tech entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in soil ecology, started a website to update people on all the “terrible news about climate change.” But after a while, he felt it wasn’t working—that it would never work. “It took me years to realize there’s no point in putting up more facts and figures,” he says. “They just bounce off people.”

Then he stumbled across the Transition Town movement, which was just picking up steam in his city—Bristol, England. When Mundy attended a training session on Transition Towns, he found a group of people addressing the big problems of our time, and doing it with optimism and a sense of celebration.

The Transition movement is built around making the transition to a world after peak oil—the time when world oil production reaches an all-time high, then goes into irreversible decline. Oil prices will spike and the economy will stop growing, wreaking havoc in our society, which depends on petroleum for nearly everything, from growing food to maintaining economies. more

Crash Course In Resilience

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on September 21, 2010 at 8:34 am


We can strengthen our communities and ourselves to prepare for the uncertain world of failing economies, climate change, and oil depletion.

To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.—Wendell Berry

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
—Victor Frankl

Not long ago, a rocket took off from a Florida launching pad taking Americans to the moon. The moon shot signified to many that Americans could do anything we set our minds to.
Today, in another part of Florida, toxic oil is washing up on beaches. Hundreds of miles of Gulf Coast have been devastated, and people whose resilience was tested by Hurricane Katrina are being tested even more severely today. There are good reasons to believe many more of us will have our resilience tested in coming months and years.

Future historians may see this time as a turning point for Western civilization. In the popular zeitgeist, there is much discussion of end times. more

Dave Smith: State Budget Talks Heat Up. Take Action in Support of Sales Tax Fairness.

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on September 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm


We need to you to act now. The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and the American Booksellers Association are urging you to please contact the Governor Schwarzenegger’s office and ask him to support the “affiliate nexus” (sales tax fairness) provision in the budget. Please call the Governor’s office today (Monday) or tomorrow, at the latest.

The most reliable information we have tells us that this is the moment to act. We’ve heard that budget talks have swung into high gear, and in the proposed state budget package, there is a sales tax fairness provision that mirrors more

Peak Complexity: Standing On the Brink of Release

In Around the web on September 20, 2010 at 9:35 am


[...] Buzz Holling was instrumental in describing the adaptive cycles of complex ecological systems, and specifically he studied forest ecosystems. He identified 4 general stages of evolution in complex ecological systems (what he termed “fractal adaptive cycles”), and these could just as easily be applied to human systems that have been built on the foundation of those ecological systems (my descriptions will be greatly simplified – follow the referenced sources for more detail) :

1. Growth – The system finds an abundance of available resources and spaces which are exploited for material wealth, and this flow of energy/resources allows the development of many inter-dependencies, efficiencies and specialized functions. Diversity of agents within the system increases as does overall wealth.

2. Conservation – The system’s rapid growth decelerates as it becomes highly specialized and opportunities for novel exploitation strategies diminish. Increasing amounts of energy are directed towards conserving the existing system instead of growth, and “wealth” is extracted from the periphery to central parts of the system. The system’s complex inter-dependencies become more rigid more

Six Reasons Why I’m Not On Facebook

In Around the web on September 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm


[This goes for this old dude, too... DS]

“David, you’re sounding like an old dude!” Matt Flannery, who runs social-lending website Kiva, couldn’t understand when I explained that, no, I wouldn’t be keeping in touch with him via Facebook. “What are you worried about?” he teased in a break at the PINC conference in Holland. “Only old guys get worked up about privacy.”

Well, Matt, I admit I’m the wrong side of 30, and that I still avoid using emoticons in formal correspondence. But let me explain why I’m not active on Facebook, nor sharing my credit-card purchases on Blippy, nor allowing Google Buzz to mine my contacts list, nor even publishing my DNA on My cautious use of the social networks has nothing to do with paranoia about privacy; and yes, I celebrate the unprecedented transparency and connectivity that these services can empower. But what’s increasingly bothering me is the wider social and political cost of our ever-greater enmeshment in these proprietary networks. Here are half a dozen reasons why. more

Take Action! 13-year Old Takes to the Web to Just Say “No” to Pesticides

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on September 19, 2010 at 9:32 am


[Local Context: Many towns, cities, and counties in north America are banning the use of cosmetic chemicals on lawn and gardens. In our local, so-called "progressive community" our city and county lawns, parks, golf courses and ball fields are saturated with poisons and not managed organically... to the detriment of our collective health. We have the world's first organic brewpub, we were the first county to ban GMO plants and roadside spraying, our co-op sells only organic produce, several of our wineries are organic and biodynamic pioneers, our environmental centers have brought world attention to the destruction of the redwood forests, yet our children and pets roll around on chemical-saturated grass, our school kids play in poison, and the Big Box colonizers and locally-owned home improvement stores sell thousands of gallons of expensive and unnecessary chemical treatments every month. What's wrong with this picture? -DS]

A thirteen-year old girl in a Northern Virginia suburb has recently launched her own campaign more

Amy Goodman: Percy Schmeiser vs. Monsanto

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on September 19, 2010 at 8:29 am

Video here

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Bonn, Germany, where the thirtieth anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards is being held. The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 and has become widely known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. Gathered here in Bonn this week are some eighty Right Livelihood Award laureates, including the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who has battled the biotech company Monsanto for years. In 1997, Percy and his wife Louise won the Right Livelihood Award for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers’ rights. I spoke with Percy Schmeiser yesterday in Bonn, but first I want to turn to Bertram Verhaag’s documentary Percy Schmeiser: David versus Monsanto.

    NARRATOR: The pesticide Roundup produced by the multinational concern Monsanto is the most widely sold spray in the world. Monsanto made its canola resistant to Roundup. This means Roundup kills every plant without exception. more

Rosalind Peterson: Take Action! What You Can Do By October 11, 2010 About The U.S. Navy’s New Threat To Northern California And Gulf Of Mexico Marine Life

In !ACTION CENTER! on September 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

Redwood Valley




USA TODAY broke this news when they published a news story titled: “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” on August 5, 2010 [1]. According to USA Today news article, backed up by federal documents from the U.S. Navy and NOAA: “…The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training… more

Organic: It’s Worth It

In Around the web on September 18, 2010 at 7:51 am

Diversity of Benefits Documented in Major Organic Strawberry Study

The long-awaited Washington State University (WSU) organic versus conventional strawberry fruit quality study has been published in the prestigious journal PLoS ONE (September 2010, Vol. 5, Issue 9: e12346).

The study compared 13 pairs of organic and conventional strawberry fields matched to include the same three varieties, harvest schedule, irrigation methods, soil types, and weather.  The team found that the organic strawberries were more nutrient dense, stored longer, and were produced in soils characterized by greater microbial diversity and capacity to overcome stress.

The organic fruit was, on average, smaller, which some commentators noted as a disadvantage, but in reality, it is an important advantage if the goal is to produce tasty, nutrient dense fruit more

Greenhorns: the network breathing new life into US farming

In Around the web on September 18, 2010 at 7:33 am

The Ecologist

It‘s helping attract youthful talent into sustainable agriculture across the US, but can the Greenhorns movement survive in the land of Big Ag?

The Greenhorns is an exciting new movement tearing up the turf (gently) in the USA. This fresh network of young farmers is mapping the future of food production with ambitious targets, incisive communication and savvy marketing – all fertilised with plenty of organic passion.

Severine von Tshcarner Fleming started the Greenhorns because she was fed up with the negativity she kept encountering while studying agroecology, and the low levels of funding available for sustainable agriculture. She wanted to reflect ‘the incredibly positive uprising of people engaged in the day-to-day rebuilding of our food system’ found everywhere she worked on the land. Hence these ‘young farmers’ are united more in attitude than age.


Todd Walton: Art Rant (includes favorite films)

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Under The Table


Rae’s eyes were red and swollen. They sat on the couch side by side, in silence, waiting for the doctor.” from Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott

The silence of the eyes rings true, and the eyes being side-by-side seems plausible, but how in heck did those eyes get onto that couch without Rae?

I was thirteen and had devoured a thousand books before I discovered the first typo of my reading career, an error that struck me as a scandalous affront to the artistry of writing. I was an insatiable reader, and wanting to be a professional writer I did not skim, but read every word. And when I found passages that wowed me, I copied their lines longhand to teach my sinews the feel of great writing. more

Neil Davis: On your bike, you’re not a pedestrian.

In Guest Posts on September 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Ukiah Valley Trail Group
Mendo 2 Mile Challenge

Can’t we all just get along? Well sure, in theory…. it just hasn’t happened yet. Put two people in a shared space, and you’re likely to see some level of conflict. Add more people, divide into unequal subgroups, add a dash of power differential, and bingo – you have cars bikes and pedestrians driving one another crazy.

Felix Salmon recently wrote an interesting piece entitled “A unified theory of New York Biking” in which he describes his frustration with bicyclists’ not following the rules of the road (he is, by the way, a cyclist). Here is a summation of his perspective that he calls a “bicycle manifesto”:

“Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it’s the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, more

Scott Cratty: Ukiah Farmers Market & Car Show This Saturday 9/18/10

In Dave Smith on September 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm


Friends of the Farmers Market,

Your local farmers need you more than ever this Saturday at the Ukiah Farmers’ Market.

It is once again time for the Fabulous Flashback Car Show — a fine, long-standing Ukiah event, for which the farmers’ market relocates one block onto Clay Street (between School and Oak). Unfortunately, over the last few years Car Show weekend has resulted in a very low turn out for the farmers’ market. That is sad because, much as they might like to just take the week off and as earnestly as they might request, more

Chris Hedges: Do Not Pity the Democrats

In Around the web on September 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm


There are no longer any major institutions in American society, including the press, the educational system, the financial sector, labor unions, the arts, religious institutions and our dysfunctional political parties, which can be considered democratic. The intent, design and function of these institutions, controlled by corporate money, are to bolster the hierarchical and anti-democratic power of the corporate state. These institutions, often mouthing liberal values, abet and perpetuate mounting inequality. They operate increasingly in secrecy. They ignore suffering or sacrifice human lives for profit. They control and manipulate all levers of power and mass communication. They have muzzled the voices and concerns of citizens. They use entertainment, celebrity gossip and emotionally laden public-relations lies to seduce us into believing in a Disneyworld fantasy of democracy.

The menace we face does not come from the insane wing of the Republican Party…

Article here

Barry Vogel Sues Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the County of Mendocino, and Cities of Willits and Ukiah for Civil Rights Violations

In Mendo Island News Service on September 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Press Release
September 16, 2010

Contact Barry Vogel, Esq.
707 462 6541

A claim alleging multiple violations civil rights protected by the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution was filed against the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the County of Mendocino and the Cities of Willits and Ukiah on September 16, 201

Krissa Arnold-Klein, a 21-year-old Willits, California woman claims her right to be free from unreasonable searches was violated when she was violently thrown to the floor of her bedroom in her Willits home on March 18, 2010 by Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force Agent Peter Hoyle.  The surprise and violence caused Klein great stress from which she continues to suffer, in addition to the infliction of harm to her wrist where she had previous surgeries.

Hoyle was in the process of executing a search warrant at her home, which according to his report attached to the claim; he and Agent Raymond Hendry were at the wrong residence. Hoyle is assigned to the Task Force by the Ukiah Police Department and Deputy Sheriff Hendry is assigned to the Task Force by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

The claim, prepared by Klein’s attorneys Barry Vogel and Brina Latkin, states that the search warrant Hendry and Hoyle more

My Best Organic Blue Cheese Potato Salad

In Dave Smith, Organic Food & Recipes on September 15, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Some conventional potato farmers say they won’t eat the potatoes they grow for market because of the toxic sprays they use. So only leave the skins on potatoes you eat if they are grown organically. After experimenting some over the summer, this is my best yet potato salad. Love them organic carbs.

1. Boil organic red potatoes with skin on. Remove from heat and place potatoes in a large bowl.
2. Sprinkle organic golden balsamic vinegar over potatoes, stir, sprinkle, stir.
3. Let cool in a bowl, or if in a hurry, put in the freezer or refrigerator for a bit.
4. Steam some organic cobs of corn. Slice off the corn kernals; chop or dice the potatoes and any of the following ingredients needing it. Add to the potatoes, corn, crumbled organic blue cheese, crumbled free-range bacon, hard-boiled organic eggs, organic red onions, organic italian parsley, salt, pepper,  then toss. Stir in organic mayo.
5. Taste, adjust ingredients, serve, and get stuffed.

“High-Fructose Corn Syrup”? Never Heard of It.

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on September 15, 2010 at 9:16 pm


If you can’t beat ‘em…confuse them. That seems to be the new motto of our good friends at the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group and manufacturing association that represents makers of high-fructose corn syrup. The AP is reporting that the group has petitioned the FDA for permission to identify high-fructose corn syrup on food packaging as–wait for it–”corn sugar.”

After all, HFCS sales are at a 20-year low. More and more, science is indicating that the body metabolizes HFCS differently from table sugar in a way that increases the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. (Yes, we consume too many sweeteners of all kinds, but as I wrote in this recent post, there is evidence that this industrially extracted combination of fructose and glucose has more health consequences than the ones that humans have been consuming for far longer.) As the Corn Refiners president observed sadly, HFCS of late “has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood.” more

Grace Hudson Museum: California Indian Foods — Past, Present, and Future, Sunday 9/19/10 2-4 pm

In Around Mendo Island on September 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm


Ever wondered what it would be like if you knew where every bite on your plate came from, because you had gathered, ground, fished, or dug it up yourself? California Indians did just that for millennia, and they continue to use native foods to this day, in spite of obstacles posed by development, climate change, and sudden oak death.

Naturalist, ethnographer and food expert Beverly Ortiz, Ph.D. will present a free lecture and slide show on the history, joys, and challenges of modern California Indian food preparation this Sunday, September 19, from 2-4 p.m. at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah. This event is offered in conjunction with an ongoing exhibit at the Museum entitled “Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast,” on display through November 4, 2010.


Book Review: Neo-Feudalism and the Invisible Fist

In Around the web, Books on September 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

From Front Porch Republic

“The sleekest revolutions,” notes Barry Lynn, “are won not at the barricades but in the dictionary.” To control the terms of a debate is to control the outcome. This is certainly true of the term “free market,” a term which has come to mean almost its opposite, and hence a system which is manifestly unfree. The claim that our markets are not free is a serious one, and should only be made on serious evidence, just the kind of evidence that Barry Lynn provides in Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.

The surest sign that a market is free is that it is competitive; there should be a rich variety of products provided by a vast number of firms, a situation which affords entrepreneurs many opportunities to enter the market and workers many places to sell their labor. And when we waltz into our local Wal Mart, that is what we seem to see. Alas, it is an illusion of competition rather than the reality. For example, if you want eyeglasses, you can go to Pearl Vision, or Lenscrafters, Sears Optical, JC Penney, Target, Macy’s, Sunglass Hut, or buy frames from 25 different manufacturers. Surely choice and competition prevail in this market. But no. All of these are one company, the Italian conglomerate Luxottica. And as with glasses, so also with so many other products. Most of our beer—even some that try to pass themselves off as “craft” beer—is provided by just two companies, ImBev of Belgium or the South African Brewing Company. Proctor & Gamble provides 75% of razors, 60% of detergent, 50% of feminine pads, etc. Even what few companies remain in each market often engage in collusion rather than competition. Wal Mart, for example, appoints one company as a “category manager” to allocate shelf space for all the “competing” companies. more

The Future is Rated “B”

In Around the web on September 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm

From Dmitry Orlov

Author: Reinventing Collapse

My voluminous fan mail has made me aware of a curious fact: many of my readers seem persuaded that the future is either Mad Max or Waterworld. As far as they are concerned, there just aren’t any other options. What’s more, some people have even tried to venture a guess as to which of the two it shall be by watching what I do. I live on a boat, and that is apparently an indication that the future must be Waterworld-like. But I have also been seen rattling around town on a rusty old motorcycle, and that is taken as an indication of a more Mad Max-like future.

It saddens me that so few people bring up the film Blade Runner, and it is even more sad that George Lucas’s THX 1138 or Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville are almost never mentioned, because these particular films have in many ways proven to be predictive of the present rather than just the future. Take THX 1138 for example: it is about some people who live in a sealed-off climate-controlled environment, are on a compulsory regimen of psychoactive drugs, are assigned their mates by a computer program, and watch pornography that is piped into their living rooms in order to relax after work. When they refuse to take their meds, they are abused by robot-like police armed with electric cattle-prods. When one of them escapes into the wilderness, it turns out that the police lack the budget to hunt him down. That may have seemed a bit exotic and futuristic back in 1971 when Lucas filmed it, but now describes the people who live down the street. Alphaville, on the other hand, is vaguely reminiscent of some of my more interesting business trips. more

TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults

In Around the web on September 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

The ONION Video Here
God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule

NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

“Look, I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again… Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don’t. And to be honest, I’m really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to…

“I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you’d get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important,” said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. “I guess I figured I’d left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get? It’s not God’s will, all right? News flash: ‘God’s will’ equals ‘Don’t murder people.’”

“I don’t care what faith you are, everybody’s been making this same mistake since the dawn of time,” God said. “The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don’t even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, ‘Turn the other cheek,’ but you’ve been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades…” The ONION story here.

Why learn permaculture? For the children and ourselves

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on September 13, 2010 at 9:18 pm


Permaculture is one of the only ways home for humanity. If one believes in modernism, industrial agriculture and better living through chemistry read no further. However, if you feel something is not right about the way we live, read on.

I have come to realize that it is because we have been taught from birth to be dependent on the system or civilization that we have lost our connection to our home—the land, nature and its cultivars. Simply, because we have no connection to the land we have no reason to take care of it or limit our numbers. The skills and relationships with even the most common plants is not given to us as children.

Teach your children well

Permaculture is a modern translation of first people’s or native knowledge and wisdom. It is a step towards indigenizing the white man. We have to learn permaculture as adults because we were not taught about our home as children. The key may be for us as adults to learn permaculture design skills and then pass this knowledge and established perennial homesteads and communities on to our children.

Every child should be able to identify at least 100 plants and name their uses, how to grow them, where they are found and how to process them. Children should learn these skills through action, touch, feel, smell, taste and story.

My children know probably a dozen berries by the shape of the plant at a distance. They know which plant to go to at different times of the year. If I don’t keep a watchful eye though, they can eat much of the fruit before the U-pick customers can get it. Its all good; more

Dan Hamburg: Supervisor Campaign Update

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on September 13, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Mendocino County


We hope all of you had an excellent summer. Here at Campaign Central, we are moving into high gear. We hope you will find time to work and play with us, because we are playing to win!

Our website calendar is up at Please check it often for event updates and locations where I will be speaking. I always appreciate seeing friendly faces at debates and community events. And if you have an event in your community you think I would be interested in attending, please let us know here!

Here’s a brief update.

We will have a booth at the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show, the weekend of September 17th. We will be giving out samples of grain grown right here in the 5th District. And we have plans to participate in the parade! We are looking for volunteers to help staff our booth. Please contact Laura Hamburg here if you can help!

Friday, September 24th is our kickoff “Fun Raiser” event at Crown Hall in Mendocino. Come groove to the music of Rogerwood with special guests Steven Bates and David Hayes. Chris Skyhawk and Sherry Glaser are our Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, and a delicious gourmet dinner catered by Garnish Daly will be available at 6:00 PM with music to follow. more

Will Parrish: Mendo’s Biggest Wine Country Corporations

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts, Will Parrish on September 13, 2010 at 8:51 am


“We have chosen as our first topic of discussion the reality of the business — cash. Everything we do eventually finds its way back to this common denominator. That is, cash in and cash out. … At Duckhorn Vineyards, we earn approximately 24% cash profit. … Our bank, Bank of America, is more willing to support our growth because of our relatively high cash profit levels, our confirmed reinvestment of earnings and our shareholder support.” newsletter to shareholders, Duckhorn Vineyards, 1998 (now owned by CB Richard Ellis, the world’s largest real estate conglomerate)

“The Problem Now: What To Do With All That Cash,” a 1995 Business Week headline intoned.  It could well have been describing the impetus for the California North Coast’s premium wine-grape bubble.  Throughout the 1990s and up to the present, the battalions of bankers, lawyers, and business magnates who presided over the boom-time economy in the San Francisco Bay Area (and elsewhere) have plunged a huge portion of their surplus wealth into upscale wine culture – pricey tasting room tours, $50,000 collections of high-end vintages in home cellars, and $230 bottles of, for instance, ’93 Opus One.

Many of these regional economic elites went a step further by purchasing their own North Coast wine-grape plantations, those monocrop slices of the “bucolic” wine country lifestyle running from the Russian River Valley to Napa Valley to the Anderson Valley.

Silicon Valley tycoons landscaped their vacation homes with more

Big Box Colonizers Face Thousands of Closings

In Around the web on September 13, 2010 at 8:50 am


The Significance of Consumer Deleveraging

[We have been expecting a letter from DDR to the voters of Mendocino County thanking us for voting down the Masonite Monster Mall and therefore saving them millions of dollars in wasted development costs. Maybe Wendy Roberts and other local proponents of Dinosaur Dumb Growth can write one for them... -DS]

Consumers have only begun to cut back on their severe debt burdens, and the process will take a number of years.  Household debt relative to GDP soared from a range of 43% to 49% in the 20-year period between 1965 and 1985 to a peak of 97.3% in 2009.  As of March 31st (the latest data point) this dropped only slightly to 92.7%.  To provide some more perspective, Ned Davis Research estimates the mean to be 54.2% over the past 58 years. The percentage climbed gradually to 65% in 1998, and then really accelerated to its recent peak.

To be conservative, let’s assume that the household debt/GDP ratio falls back only to the 65% level of 1998 more


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,515 other followers