25 Documentaries Everybody Should Watch…


From SANS SOLEIL
HighExistence

This is not your average documentary. It is a fleeting memory, a sudden remembrance of times long past, a meditation on time and culture, a touch of an emotional diary. We follow the eyes of a world traveller who makes sharp observations and tries to convey them to his friend. We never learn who they are and where they came from, and this is perhaps a subtle point the documentary wants to make. The narrator’s voice switches from Japanese to German to English to French, thereby embodying the language of the places visited. By observing the cultural kaleidoscope of our planet, the eye we follow seems to shape shift its way around and conveys to us, the viewer, that ‘what life is’ depends on where and when you are. Sit down, cover yourself in a blanket and sip on a hot cup of coca and join the collaborative dream called Sans Soleil.

Watch Sans Soleil on Google Video.

The Corporation

Corporate personhood is probably the elephant in the room when it comes politics. More than a century ago corporations could apply for personhood, giving them constitutional rights as if they were persons. Yet. if they truly were persons, they would be power-hungry one-dimensional sociopaths. Directing everything from what we see, drink, think, eat and everything else what we bring into our lives, corporations have an ever-growing grip on the world. We learn how they own the media, influence governments, silence critics and bend everything to their will, all in the name of profit. This documentary does not have a happy ending, and is probably preaching to the choir, but it is still a must watch if you want to understand the global workings of capitalism.

Watch The Corporation on Google Video.

Todd Walton: Connections


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen

The stock market was way up yesterday on news that Bank of America announced that he (being a gigantic person according to the Supreme Court) plans to cut sixteen thousand jobs by Christmas. How nice. What a fine and humane time to fire sixteen thousand people in order to increase quarterly profits for a quarter or two.

“Everything in life matters and ultimately has a place, an impact and a meaning.” Laurens Van Der Post

So I was in the hardware store buying screws and varnish and masking tape and grout and glue, and having a laugh with the fellow helping me find things (about the trials and tribulations and triumphs and compromises of fixing things), when a couple entered the store and my Super Wealthy People alarm went off. That is to say, having grown up in Atherton, a town that is not really a town but an enclave for super wealthy people and those who serve them, a shiver passes through me when one or more of these folks comes near, and then I try to get away as fast as I can.

The woman was elegant and beautiful and perfectly coiffed and wearing a gray silk dress and a strand of fat white pearls and these amazingly svelte red leather boots, an ensemble that probably cost as much as most people’s cars, and the man was wearing a shirt and trousers I would more likely frame and put on the wall than wear. As is the habit of many super wealthy people, the woman walked up to the fellow helping me find things

Hey, Fellow Lefties: Pay Attention!


From REBECCA SOLNIT
TomDispatch

Forgive me if I briefly take my eyes off the prize to brush away some flies, but the buzzing has gone on for some time. I have a grand goal, and that is to counter the Republican right with its deep desire to annihilate everything I love and to move toward far more radical goals than the Democrats ever truly support. In the course of pursuing that, however, I’ve come up against the habits of my presumed allies again and again.

O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we’re talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us. Not just me, but you, us, and our possibilities.

Leftists Explain Things to Me

The poison often emerges around electoral politics. Look, Obama does bad things and I deplore them, though not with a lot of fuss, since they’re hardly a surprise. He sometimes also does not-bad things, and I sometimes mention them in passing, and mentioning them does not negate the reality of the bad things.

The same has been true of other politicians: the recent governor of my state, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in some respects quite good on climate change. Yet it was impossible for me to say so to a radical without receiving an earful about all the other ways in which Schwarzenegger was terrible, as if the speaker had a news scoop, as if he or she thought I had been living under a rock, as if the presence of bad things made the existence of good ones irrelevant.

Transition: A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network Conference. The best yet…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Transition folks from around the world gathered last weekend at Battersea Arts Centre for the 6th annual Transition Network conference.  In a week when the Arctic ice reached its smallest ever extent, scientists warned that the world’s weather could be on the verge of running amok and it was suggested that Saudi Arabia, always meant to be the ‘swing producer’ on whom the rest of the world could depend for reliable oil supplies, may become a net importer of oil by 2030, the theme of the conference was, appropriately, ‘Building resilience in extraordinary times’.  Unlike previous conferences which had spanned two, perhaps three days, this was, in effect, a 6 day ‘Festival of Transition’, and it turned out to be an extraordinary event which deeply affected those attending.

Friday

Thursday began with the first day of a Transition Thrive training, and Friday featured the second day of that training, attended by 35 people from around the world, as well as a Youth Symposium and the REconomy Day.  I arrived on Friday lunchtime, gave a short talk for the Youth event, and dipped into the REconomy day, so I can’t say much about either.  Fortunately, thanks to the various people who documented the event, you can see some great photos of the REconomy day here and read Jay Tompt’s reflections on it here, and here Caroline Jackson reflects on the Youth day.

Transition: At Its Heart, The Localist Movement is About Love…


From BALLE
Thanks to Mari Rodin

First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love.  Politicians don’t often talk about love, but it is a word we use at BALLE. And this week something happened that could be described as an outpouring of love in Bellingham, Washington, the community where I live.

A 15-year old natural foods store, Terra Organica/Public Market, put out a call for help on facebook last week. This is a BALLE business and a member of local business network Sustainable Connections. The owner, Stephen Trinkhaus admitted he’d taken some expansion risks the past year that had over-extended their business. He said that they were now on the brink of closing.

He said he had decided to ask for help because if they closed, 60 people would lose their jobs — and because he really believes in what he offers our community. If they closed, we would have fewer healthy, thoughtfully selected products and services. So he asked if we’d consider shopping there…a lot…in the next few weeks.

Within hours the Bellingham Herald had posted his letter on their website and by closing their sales had already increased by $2,000 for the day. The next day was their busiest day in all of 2012, and the following day was their busiest in fifteen years of doing business here.

A customer came in and offered a $1,000 check as a gift! Others contributed money as well. One person had the idea of buying extra food to give to the food bank, and through facebook, many others decided to do the same. Far away friends of friends on facebook sent in donations! A local citizen organized a “cash mob” to be held five days after the plea for help

Transition: Madness of the Mainstream…


From TRANSITION VOICE

The following dialogue continues an on-going cyber-discussion between two cultural philosophers, Dr. Sherry Ackerman and Dr. Guy McPherson.

ACKERMAN: Wow! I don’t leave the homestead all that often. And, when I do, I don’t go that far. But, today I had occasion to venture out into mainstream culture for the afternoon and I was flabbergasted.

The mainstream has never been my thing, but, Guy, I’m telling you that it’s plunged even further into madness. Sheer madness. There’s nothing out there that has anything to do with real life. It’s an entirely constructed false culture.

I live here on the homestead and there’s life all around me.

There are living plants in the gardens, animals in the paddocks and active people working with the soil, trees, water and solar patterns. Everything’s connected in a very practical, necessary way. Kitchen garbage goes to the chickens who then give us eggs. Livestock manure is composted for the gardens that give us our food. Solar energy fuels our living quarters, heats our water, and cooks our food. If any part of the chain of life breaks down, we’re all impacted.

Conversely, mainstream culture is dead.

It’s packaged, sterile, predictable, isolated (perhaps alienated is closer to the truth), and lifeless.

People lack enthusiasm (which, by the way, in Greek, means “filled with the gods”), are unanimated (anima, in Latin, means “soul”), disconnected and stressed. Time, which is a manmade construct, governs mainstream culture’s machinations. Products are old, boasting incredible shelf-lives. Prices are high, and the proceeds go directly to The Man, instead of to any real person(s). Conversation is superficial; factory food proliferates; gas belching machines, with single occupancy, are everywhere; dumps are brimming

‘Drones all over my brain’…


From FIRE DOG LAKE

A recently released report from the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law explores what it is like to live under drones and features firsthand testimony from civilians in Pakistan. The report, called “Living Under Drones,” is the product of two investigation missions to Pakistan and features firsthand accounts from those who have been impacted by drones employed regularly by the United States.

Part 1 on what the report details on strikes against rescuers and funerals was already published here at Firedoglake. Now, here’s Part 2, which examines drone surveillance, the effect that the presence of drones in the sky has on the mental health of Pakistanis and how drones breed distrust in Pakistani communities.

The constant presence of drones in the sky brings terror to the lives of the people of Pakistan. It is “harrowing” for children, grown-ups, women, and anyone who hears the sound of a drone and thinks they will be next. And in some respects, surveillance by drones is even worse than drone strikes because Pakistanis do not ever know for certain that a drone in the sky is just overhead to spy.

A humanitarian worker explained:

Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember what it felt like right after? I was in New York on 9/11. I remember people crying in the streets. People were afraid about what might happen next. People didn’t know if there would be another attack. There was tension in the air. This is what it is like. It is a continuous tension, a feeling of continuous uneasiness. We are scared. You wake up with a start to every noise.

One person told researchers, “God knows whether they’ll strike us again or not. But they’re always surveying us, they’re always over us, and you never know when they’re going to strike and attack.”

Drone authorization lists in US…


From ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION

This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally released its first round of records in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for information on the agency’s drone authorization program. The agency says the two lists it released include the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically. These lists—which include the Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), issued to public entities like police departments, and the Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs), issued to private drone manufacturers—show for the first time who is authorized to fly drones in the United States.

Some of the entities on the COA list are unsurprising. For example, journalists have reported that Customs and Border Protection uses Predator drones to patrol the borders. It is also well known that DARPA and other branches of the military are authorized to fly drones in the US. However, this is the first time we have seen the broad and varied list of other authorized organizations, including universities, police departments, and small towns and counties across the United States. The COA list includes universities and colleges like Cornell, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Gateway Community College, as well as police departments in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Gadsden, Alabama; and Ogden, Utah, to name just a few. The COA list also includes small cities and counties like Otter Tail, Minnesota and Herington, Kansas. The Google map linked above plots out the locations we were able to determine from the lists, and is color coded by whether the authorizations are active, expired or disapproved.

The second list we received includes all the manufacturers that have applied for authorizations to test-fly their drones. This list is less surprising and includes manufacturers like Honeywell, the maker of Miami-Dade’s T-Hawk drone; the huge defense

Rosalind Peterson: Worldwide and Domestic Drone Programs…


From ROSALIND PETERSON
Agriculture Defense Coalition
Redwood Valley

The United States has embarked on Worldwide and Domestic Drone Programs.  Unmanned Drones are being used in foreign countries and in the United States.  They carry surveillance cameras, recording equipment, bombs, and other weapon systems.

In recent years the U.S. government has decided to allow the use drones within the borders of the United States.  The following government reports, newspaper articles, and other information is provided for your information regarding the expansion and use of unmanned drones worldwide and in the United States.

Many unmanned aerial vehicles now under production vary in size from those as small as your fingertip to as large as full-scale airplanes capable of carrying missiles and bombs.  And model radio control small airplanes, cars, and helicopters can be purchased at your local toy stores or hobby shops.  The elementary technology has been in existence for more than fifty years.  It has only been in more recent times that more sophisticated technology, computers, cameras, listening devices, fuels, lighter and stronger contstruction materials, and other inventions have contributed to new uses for unmanned vehicles (drones).

Unmanned Drones are plagued by crashes, malfunctions, use of defective parts from foreign countries like China, accidents (including hitting other aircraft), loss of control, lost drones, and other problems.  Military drones are being tested over land areas in the United States while carrying weapons systems, missiles, bombs, and while using experimental and dangerous fuels, like hydrogen, or powered by nuclear power as is proposed by the U.S. government. The potential for accidents has already been clearly demonstrated in news and government reports

The Myth of the Self-Made Man Justifies Economic Parasites…


From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

We could call it Romnesia: the ability of the very rich to forget the context in which they made their money. To forget their education, inheritance, family networks, contacts and introductions. To forget the workers whose labour enriched them. To forget the infrastructure and security, the educated workforce, the contracts, subsidies and bail-outs the government provided.

Every political system requires a justifying myth. The Soviet Union had Alexey Stakhanov, the miner reputed to have extracted 100 tonnes of coal in six hours. The United States had Richard Hunter, the hero of Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches tales(1).

Both stories contained a germ of truth. Stakhanov worked hard for a cause in which he believed, but his remarkable output was probably faked(2). When Alger wrote his novels, some poor people had become very rich in the United States. But the further from its ideals (productivity in the Soviet Union’s case, opportunity in the US) a system strays, the more fervently its justifying myths are propounded.

As the developed nations succumb to extreme inequality and social immobility, the myth of the self-made man becomes ever more potent. It is used to justify its polar opposite: an unassailable rent-seeking class, deploying its inherited money to finance the seizure of other people’s wealth.

The crudest exponent of Romnesia is the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart. “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she insists. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain; do something to make more money yourselves

Planting Rebellion: Seed-saving as a subversive act…


From TWILIGHT GREENAWAY
Grist

“In the course of getting a plate of food to our table, we’re paying a lot of attention to the farmer, the chef, the farmers market — all of that is as it should be, but we pay very little attention to the thing that starts it all, the seed.” That sentiment comes from Janisse Ray, farmer and author of the new book The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food.

And it’s true; for many of us, seeds are a mysterious, invisible piece of the food puzzle. While we’re busy thinking about how to fix our food economies, seeds often slip through the cracks. And we’ve lost an almost unfathomable amount of genetic diversity as a result; depending on whom you ask, anywhere between 75 to 95 percent of our fruit and vegetable varieties have been lost for good. Highly functional, often bland, hybridized and genetically engineered varieties have taken over the commercial market — as opposed to the more delicate, complex heirloom varieties with stories and names attached, such as Dragon Tongue beans, Country Gentleman sweet corn, and May Queen lettuce — and Monsanto, Dupont, and Syngenta now own over half of the world’s seeds.

So, you might say Ray’s book has appeared just in time. In it, she makes a compelling argument for seed-saving as a subversive act that has the potential to undermine industrial agribusiness and takes readers to the farms and gardens of people around the country who are growing, collecting, and swapping seeds.

“Our grandparents and great-grandparents were caretakers of seeds. Now we rent them,” she told me in a recent interview. Eighty-eight percent of corn is genetically engineered, for instance, says Ray, and it has been engineered so that it’s impossible to save.

Transition: Manifesto for a post-growth economy…


America the Possible

From YES!
Transition Voice

Editor’s introduction: Gus Speth has been a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advisor to presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the head of the United Nations’ largest international assistance program, and Dean at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

“Right at the time I should be settling into a rosy retirement,” Speth says, “I find I am instead quite alarmed about the appalling future we’re on track to leave our grandchildren.” His new book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, is about how transformative change can come to America, what life would be like in the attractive future that is still within our power to build, and what we need to do to realize it.

In this excerpt adapted from America the Possible, Speth takes on the tricky issue of post-growth prosperity. For more specific details about the policies under discussion here, check out the book.

We tend to see growth as an unalloyed good, but an expanding body of evidence is now telling us to think again. Economic growth may be the world’s secular religion, but for most it is a god that is failing—underperforming for most of the world’s people, and creating more problems than it solves for those in affluent societies.

Americans are substituting growth and ever more consumption for doing the things that would truly make us and our country better off. Psychologists have pointed out, for example, that while economic output per person in the United States rose sharply in recent decades, there has been no increase in life satisfaction.

Revolution: TV tells the Inconvenient Truth…


From TOD BRILLIANT
Post Carbon Institute

From the NBC website: Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down, the lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it?

And so, no matter how implausible or improbable the storytelling, Revolution offers an entry point for millions into a deeper understanding of energy scarcity issues.

I just watched my first prime time television show in years, NBC’s Revolution.

It’s fifteen years after the Great Blackout. The United States, at the very least, is entirely free of electricity for reasons as yet unknown (but it sure smells like, get this, a conspiracy!)  Humans have left the cities for the countryside to live in communal villages or prey on one another. The good guys sport henleys and hoes.

Gina Covina: Fall Equinox…


From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

Here we are at the equinox, that small moment of balance between summer and fall when day and night divide the hours equally and half the summer garden is finished. I’m feeling the expansive generosity of summer’s abundance and the anxious urge to hoard for winter in equal measure, spiked by sudden washes of sadness at all the endings.

The weather has been combining summer and fall in equal portions for the past week – lows in the upper 30s, making early morning chores something to wrap up for (or postpone), while afternoons still reach at least the upper 80s. In the cool evening I make the rounds of the gardens retrieving layers of clothing shed during the day.

While some of our summer crops are through for the year – melons, winter squash, corn, soybeans – others gamely continue to produce, albeit at a slower pace. Now is the time to assess the cold tolerance of tomato varieties – Japanese Black Trifele, Greek Asimina, and Black Cherry have barely slowed their pace, while others balk. Asian cucumbers keep on (with hoop house protection). The bulky Feherozon paprika peppers are finally moving through orange to red, after months standing pale yellow on the plants (the yellow stage is delicious, but we’re growing them for seed this year so all summer we’ve just looked).

This moment of balance at the equinox is spacious but brief – already it’s time to resume the harvest, make apple sauce and raisins and pie, water the fall garden starts – to fall headlong into the new season. It’s not called fall for nothing.
~~

Vandana Shiva: Organic farming is the only way to produce food without harming the planet and people’s health…


From VANDANA SHIVA
Common Dreams

Myths About Industrial Agriculture

 “The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and the industry is panicking,” says Vandana Shiva

Reports trying to create doubts about organic agriculture are suddenly flooding the media. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, people are fed up of the corporate assault of toxics and GMOs. Secondly, people are turning to organic agriculture and organic food as a way to end the toxic war against the earth and our bodies.

At a time when industry has set its eyes on the super profits to be harvested from seed monopolies through patented seeds and seeds engineered with toxic genes and genes for making crops resistant to herbicides, people are seeking food freedom through organic, non-industrial food.

The food revolution is the biggest revolution of our times, and the industry is panicking. So it spins propaganda, hoping that in the footsteps of Goebbels, a lie told a hundred times will become the truth. But food is different.

We are what we eat. We are our own barometers. Our farms and our bodies are our labs, and every farmer and every citizen is a scientist who knows best how bad farming and bad food hurts the land and our health, and how good farming and good food heals the planet and people.

One example of an industrial agriculture myth is found in “The Great Organic Myths” by Rob Johnston, published in the August 8 issue of The Tribune.

William Edelen: Dogs of Valor… Dogs of Eminence…


From WILLIAM EDELEN
Toward the Mystery

In my 50 years of writing newspaper columns and essays, no other column has been such a “labor of love” as this one on the War Dogs of combat who brought many members of our fighting military home safely. My journey for this emotional and educational experience started with my personal friendship with world-renown sculptor, A. Thomas Schomberg and his wife Cynthia, who often attend my Sunday Symposium in Palm Springs. Thomas was the artist who did the War Dog Memorial in front of the Museum at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California.

It was built by the support of veterans and the public without one cent of government money, in an effort to honor each and every valiant war dog and their efforts to save lives and prevent countless casualties. In Tom’s own words: “It is to illustrate the sacrifice that these two figures have made under combat circumstances, and to illustrate the bond between humans and their canine friends.”

A veterinarian serving in Vietnam wrote: “Without these dogs there would be a lot more than 50,000 names on the Vietnam wall.” Dogs in warfare have a long history starting in ancient times. War dogs have been trained for combat and to be used as scouts, sentries and trackers. War dogs were used by Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Slavs, Britons and Romans. Frederick the Great used dogs during the “seven years war” with Russia, and, of course, in  all American wars to the present day of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Captured Vietcong told of the fear and respect that they had for the dogs. The Vietcong even placed a bounty

Will Parrish: Coastal Trail Or Trail Of Tears?


From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

The physical geography that First Nations people have historically inhabited conveniently remains a mystery to most people in the dominant society. Seemingly, those willfully ignorant of such knowledge would include everyone in decision-making positions at the City of Fort Bragg and the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) who, for the better part of a decade, have been devising an infrastructure project along 4.5 miles of coastline outside of the city without bothering to consult the people who have inhabited the land since time immemorial.

Those people, the Northern Pomo, lived along the coastal bluffs and contiguous redwood forests in and around what is now called “Fort Bragg” for at least 10,000 years prior to the arrival of Gold Rush-era California intruders. Many Northern Pomo people are currently part of the Sherwood Valley Rancheria in Willits, which is comprised of various coastal Pomo people. But some still live right in the vicinity of the historical Pomo village of Kaidu, near the mouth of the Noyo River.

The infrastructure project, known as the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail and Restoration Project, encompasses virtually all of the beachfront land west of the city, north of the Noyo River, and south of the Georgia Pacific Mill site.

On the surface, most people would view the project as entirely benign. It dovetails nicely with the cultural sensibilities and economic interests of most people in the area, outdoors enthusiasts and those linked to the coast’s tourist economy being chief among them. The project would develop a network of trails and walking paths

Todd Walton: Moving Experiences


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

Marcia and I are moving from the house we’ve rented for the past seven years into a house (five miles away) we just bought. Miracle of miracles, the little gem came to us as if in a dream, and in the dream we could afford to buy her, so we did. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the new (old) house has required a great deal of work (eight weeks every day from morning until night) to be habitable when we make the great leap to living there this coming week, and the worse news is that we have to leave this house we have become so deeply attached to, and in so moving deal with ALL OUR STUFF!

Moving Experience #1: I confront a heavy cardboard box I dragged from Santa Cruz to Sacramento in 1979, Sacramento to Berkeley in 1995, Berkeley to Mendocino in 2006, and now Mendocino to another place in Mendocino in 2012. In faint felt pen on the outside of the box are the words Todd stories, go through. And I realize that I have never followed the dictates of that bygone felt pen but have continued to schlep this fifty-pound archive around with me for thirty-some years because…

Maybe I had better things to do. Maybe I had more room, more time, more tolerance for mysterious stuff taking up space. In any case, now I open the box and spend a couple hours skimming through dozens of short stories, two plays, and two novels I have only the vaguest memories of writing, though each novel consumed a year or more of my life. I end up saving a few of the stories and the two plays because a few of the lines grab me and hint they might lead to something good and new. The rest I dump into the recycling can to be picked up tomorrow, and as I dump those thousands of pages I feel a brief twinge of sorrow followed immediately by stupendous relief.

The Inevitable Decline of Retail…


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
of two minds

Online shopping is rippling through the economy, affecting not just retail but energy consumption and the job market.

Correspondent Marc A. responded to my recent entry Is Anybody Else Tired of Buying and Owning Stuff? (September 7, 2012) with an informed commentary on how online shopping is affecting the retail sector.
Here is Marc’s commentary:

“Yes, online shopping has much room for growth. Given three days the “Brown Truck Store” has an infinite breadth and depth of inventory. A good example are the $39.95 Asic Gel running shoes I’m ordering from an eBay vendor. “Free shipping”. They have my size and are much cheaper than local shoe stores which are also often ‘out’ of my preferred size and style. I can wait four days.

And it’s infinitely cheaper in terms of fuel and energy for one Brown Truck Store to deliver to 600 consumers a day than it is for these 600 consumers to sally forth in 600 vehicles to local stores that are more expensive and aren’t nearly as well-stocked. Once delivery densities in neighborhoods grow large enough UPS and FedEx will add additional men to trot the packages up to doors while the truck rolls slowly down the street. They do this at Christmas time already. Soon it will be standard. But this is only an interim solution.

Once delivery density is high enough UPS & FedEx ground will do what Waste Management has already done. Waste Management compelled the use of standard green wheeled bins that can be picked up by a mechanical arm. And they fired the 50% of the labor force that was riding the back end of the truck and emptying garbage cans manually. UPS/FedEx/DHL/USPS will organize the compulsory installation

Taxes Over The Life Cycle…


From PAUL KRUGMAN
NYT

Mark Thoma has the best data post so far on the execrable Romney speech, linking to the Hamilton Project work on taxes. This work makes a crucial point: even aside from the fact that there are other taxes besides the income tax, even aside from the larger point that lower-income working Americans are hardly grifters, the fact is that the vast majority of Americans do pay income taxes at some point in their life:

Thanks to the child tax credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, a fair number of working families with young children pay no income tax; thanks to the exemption on Social Security, many older Americans pay no income tax. But in middle age, close to 80 percent of the population pays income taxes, and even more, of course, pay federal taxes of some kind.

So the notion that almost half of our citizens are grifters isn’t just vile; it’s also based on a complete misunderstanding of tax realities.
~~

Michael Hudson: How Finance Capital Leads to Debt Servitude…


From NAKED CAPITALISM

This edited transcript is expanded from a live phone interview with Michael Hudson by Dimitris Yannopoulos for Athens News. It summarizes some of the major themes from Hudson’s new book, The Bubble and Beyond: Fictitious Capital, Debt Deflation and Global Crisis….

Q: How has the financial system evolved into the form of economic servitude that you call “debt peonage” in your book, implying a negation of democracy as well as free-market capitalism as classically understood?

A: The original hope of banking and finance capitalism in the 19th century was that banks would make productive loans to finance industry. The aim was for banks to do something new, that no economy had done in the past: make loans not merely to ship and market goods once they were produced, but to finance new capital investment by manufacturers and producers, as well as by the public sector to build infrastructure. The idea was for these investments to create profits out of which to pay the interest and the principal back to the lenders.

This was defined as productive lending. Nothing like it occurred in antiquity or in the post-feudal period. Investment always had been self-financed out of savings. Banks only entered the picture when it came to shipping and trading what had been produced.

As matters have turned out, banking has allied itself with real estate, mineral extraction, oil, gas and monopolies instead of with industry. So instead of getting a share of the profits, it has focused on lending against economic rent.

Gene Logsdon: Using The Old Farm To Sell The New


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Historians like to say that we can’t “go back” to the past and that certainly is true in a general sort of way. But as a matter of fact, in farming circles, we are always “going back” one way or another. In every generation there are people who decide that “going back” is a way to escape what they dislike in the present and there are a whole lot of people, now and historically, who dislike what is going on in agriculture.

Today, we so-called “back to the landers” would rather say that we are going forward to the land and a new attitude toward farming. But the way we make our forward-looking local farm products appeal to consumers often harks back to the old agrarianism. For example, an appealing way to sell locally-grown whole grain products is to call your store or web site a “granary.” It has a sort of romantic ring to it that was hardly a part of the real thing back when every farm had one. Ours lasted until 1958 and the word was common in our everyday conversation. The “grain-ree,” as we pronounced it, was about 30 by 30 feet in size, built up off the ground so that it would be easier to keep rat-proof. Inside it was divided into bins in which we stored whole oats, wheat, and milled grains for the chickens and livestock. I would never have dreamed then that the word as well as the building would almost pass out of existence. Now, with the return of small scale grain raising, lots of homesteads would find one of those granaries very handy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,548 other followers