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California’s Deadbeat Republicans


From Crooks and Liars

[The 2/3rds rule is simply dictatorship by the minority. -DS]

The Republicans in the California legislature are trying to close down the entire state. As everyone across America watches with awe how f*&ked up these idiot Republican politicians are acting, finally we hear someone step up to the plate and get at the root of the problem.

Lt. Gov Garamendi: I’ve been listening to what you had to say about Republicans in the Senate and Congress, we have an infection here and it’s a Republican infection that’s really spreading across this nation. Just what do they propose to do? Shut everything down? They did that with Newt Gingrich. They seem to want to do that in California and we’re saying no way, no how. We’re gonna build, we’re going to go with Obama.

He linked these deadbeat Republicans to the Newt Gingrich led Congress that got embarrassed by shutting down the federal government.

And Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a free pass from the California and national media time and time again. He was Enron’s chosen boy to oust Gray Davis and he’s almost single handedly led us down a path to ruin. The CA media needs to start looking in the mirror on this one.

And as the Garamendi explained, California has this super majority requirement on any vote that entails raising taxes in place that stalls all legislation.

We do have a two thirds vote….And then when you have Republicans that have taken a no new tax pledge and seem to just want to throw this state and really the nation into chaos and further decline in the economy, then we have the gridlock that we see. We need to change our constitution.

We need to hold these Republicans accountable…

It’s a joke. California residents need to start taking action. We can’t just sit around and watch these morons sleeping in their chairs because of obstructionist Republicans.

As Julia points out:

The 2/3rds rule is the reason why we can’t pass a budget. We are one of three states that requires a 2/3rds vote. If we don’t change that rule we will be right back here in 2010.

Cox and Moldanado are the ones to call. Here is our Moldanado action: http://couragecampaign.org/action/229/save-california-tell-senator-abel-maldonado-to-vote-yes-on-the-budget

They’ve received over a thousand calls. We can do better than that. Flood their lines.

UPDATE:

Sign the pledge to repeal the 2/3rds rule to pass a budget

Garamendi’s plan of a 55% vote is way off base too.
..
d-day has an excellent post up about California’s situation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is irrelevant and a failure. State Democrats are spineless jellyfish. The death-cult Republican Party is a collection of flat-earthers bent on destruction. All well and good. Yet all of these discrete groups are enabled by a political system that does violent disservice to the people of the state and the concept of democracy. We must have a return to majority rule as soon as possible. For the sake of accountability…read on


How to grow your own fresh air


From Ron Epstein
Ukiah

Kamal Meattle reported the results of his efforts to fill an office building with plants (video), in an effort to reduce headache, asthma, and other productivity-sapping aliments in thickly polluted India. After researching NASA documents, he concluded that a set of three particular common, waist-high houseplants—areca palm, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (shown above), and Money Plant—could be combined to scrub the air of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and other pollutants.

At about four plants per occupant (1200 plants in all), the building’s air freshened considerably, and the health and productivity results were staggering. Eye irritation dropped by 52 percent, lower respiratory symptoms by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent and asthma by 9 percent. There were fewer sick days, employee productivity increased, and energy costs dropped by 15 percent.

Next stop: a larger-scale experiment in a 1.75-million-square-foot office tower, featuring over 60,000 plants.
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Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons


What is Community? – Part 1 of 2


From Earl Brown
Ukiah
Part One | Part Two

There has been a lot of talk about community lately and there is bound to be more as we move farther into the collapse of Industrial Society. There are discussions on its importance, the need for it and the benefits of it, how it is the answer to our problems and how it is the basis of localization efforts. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what community is and we all seem to recognize its importance but, what is it, really? Can community be defined or, is it an ideal than can be strived for yet never achieved, like perfection and democracy? Do we live in one? How do we know? Is it a lump of land and people, a principle, or is it a self-organizing system?

This topic came up while I was driving a home from San Francisco with a friend the other day, just ahead of the northbound, homeward commute. The insanity of the freeway was taking the form of weaving vehicles, angry drivers, tailgating, speeding, but luckily, no accidents. “How would you describe a community”, he asked. “Well”, I said, “take our current situation. Our community is comprised of ourselves, these other drivers sharing the freeway with us and the species of plants and animals in the vicinity. Our car is our local environment and the freeway is the larger environment. Our success in getting home safely, actually everybody’s success in getting home, is dependent upon how we drivers work together, share the road and obey the principals of caution while navigating the environment of the freeway. If any one person, or group of people, chooses to ignore the rules of conduct and act without regard to everyone else’s safety then, collectively, everyone’s chances of getting home would be reduced. So our current community is the drivers and people in the other cars, all the factors and relationships effecting the drivers and how they worked together, or not, moving through the freeway environment, to reach their goal, to get home.” I’m not sure if my friend was impressed with my example but the idea that a community could be described in ways other than people and property lead to fresh ideas and a deepening of the conversation.

Keep reading What is Community? – Part 1


Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/14/09


From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Friends of the Ukiah Farmers’ Market,

Greetings. This week the market falls on Valentines Day. For those who may have missed our advertisement in the Ukiah Daily Journal’s Valentines Day special sections, the basic text was: Selecting fine, fresh food and cooking it together is romantic. Start your perfect Valentines day by planning a meal together at the farmers’ market

It’s true. Why not try it on Saturday. In additional to our usual array of fine local crafts vendors Lee Sabin will be bringing her abalone jewelry from the coast for anyone in need of a last minute gift. Perhaps some of Joanne Horn’s Afterglow Natural body care products would also be appreciated by your special someone.

While the rain is much need, it also makes for choppy seas. That means that the fresh fish from Fort Bragg that we have relied on all season will probably be in short supply or missing this week.

In case you didn’t notice, Mendocino Organics was actually selling some of their great produce at the market last Saturday. If they are selling again, they will be in the Southeast corner of the market. We also had a record three vendors with local eggs – Johns Family Farm, Lovers Lane Farm and Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese. Once you have tried a fresh local egg it is hard to go back.

John Johns wanted me to give everyone a heads-up that it is nearly time to get your gopher purge in the ground. He will have plants for $5.00 and seeds for $3.00 per 20 count pouch. In John’s own words: “The time is almost here to have the plants in the ground to freak out those nasty rodents when they show up…”

Look for the return of Josh Madsen playing for us at the market this Saturday.

On to the propaganda. In case you thought it was just me prattling on about the benefits of a local food system, check out the video at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Thanks to Terry Nieves for forwarding the link.


What about a new bank?


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

The Obama administration is about to disgorge the second half of TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) money ($350 Billion Dollars) to bail out the banks. The first $350 Billion didn’t do the trick, the second won’t either. But wait, before once again dumping that much money into unsound banks, here’s another idea. This idea isn’t mine, and if it gets some attention, I’ll again ask permission to disclose its origins. For now, we’ll just focus on what I understand to be the substance.

Forget existing banks. Why not leave them to sink or swim? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created to clean up banking messes, and it has a good record. Let it do its job.

Instead, ask Congress to appropriate money for a NEW BANK. In its charter would be a mandate to extend credit, something no amount of TARP money alone will do, as we have seen.

The NEW BANK would not be burdened with toxic assets like mortgage-backed securities that turned out to have no value and were a bad idea in the first place.

The NEW BANK would not have greedy shareholders demanding dividends from government bailout money. The shareholders would be us, the taxpayers. Instead of dividends going only to rich shareholders, taxpayers would see the benefits in the form of readily available credit. What would this mean? Ordinary people could finance cars, houses, businesses, and get lines of credit. With the increase of economic activity created by the loosened credit, employment would increase. Instead of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs each month, there would be a gradual turnaround.

What else would this mean? No more huge bonuses for executives more concerned about their pay and perks than the welfare of the country. No more incentive to produce short-term stockholder dividends. The NEW BANK’s profits would come from the interest on loans, not from fraudulent financial instruments that through the deceptive magic of “bundling” hid huge losses. This game of “hot potato” went on while the bundlers sold the instruments to our pension funds and, amazingly, to each other.

Congress would set the salaries for NEW BANK employees and managers. Bonuses would be tied to the health of the economy, not bolstered by phony recommendations of executive pay consultants. This could be in the legislation, if we demanded.

There are plenty of people in the federal government who could run the NEW BANK. Recall that the Resolution Trust Corporation and the FDIC employ plenty of smart people. Bankers who made the mess would be prohibited from employment, if we demanded.

To get the NEW BANK going requires a popular revolt. Unless we tell the Congress, loud and clear and with street demonstrations, if necessary, that we’re fed up and not going to take it anymore, the TARP money will be spent, banks will continue to go bankrupt, and the likes of you and I will not see any benefits while the unemployment numbers keep going up.

If you’re fed up, let President Obama know, let Mike Thompson know, let Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein know, and share this idea with your friends. Don’t take it anymore!

See also Good Bank/New Bank vs. Bad Bank: a rare example of a no-brainer - Financial Times

and I am as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore – YouTube


Transition Network’s ‘Who We Are and What We Do’ Document Available


From the document..

Peak oil and climate change have  rapidly moved up in people’s  awareness in recent years, but  often, particularly in relation to  peak oil, solutions tend to be thin on the ground. Since its initial emergence in Kinsale in 2005, the Transition idea1has spread virally across the UK and increasingly further afield, serving as a catalyst for community–led responses to these twin challenges. As the Transition network has grown, questions have been raised regarding how this emerging movement might structure itself, which this document is the first formal attempt at answering. We have already been seeing a structure emerging organically over the last two years and what we propose in this document is based on a deepening and a supporting of this emergent model, on the principle that self- organisation, innovation and action are to be encouraged and supported where they arise, supported by a distinct set of principles and clear guidelines.

This document has arisen from a process of extensive consultation across the Transition network, including face-to-face meetings, the use of on-line tools and fora. It will remain work in progress and be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

PDF available for download here

[Hey Cliff! We need GULP now more than ever! -DS]

Start Me Up – Rolling Stones


What’s going on around here, and how are we going to find out?


From Kevin Murphy
Ukiah

Reflections on facing the reality of dying news functions

Dave Smith reminded me recently of an inexorable truth coined by Stewart Brand, the original publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogue, that “information wants to be free.” Alas, the world is a much more jumbled place and our need for information in the modern world more complicated. Presumably in heaven information is free and instantaneous. Here and now, however, the situation is a bit different.

I believe it was Thomas Merton who wrote that the only place communism could be expected to actually work was the monastery. Likewise, a great deal of commitment would be needed in the perfect communication model. If, among your friends and acquaintances there was compelling consensus about what was most important and how information needed to be shared, and everyone willingly dedicated a part of their energy to that whole, we wouldn’t need newspapers or news feeds or RSS, assuming our community of friends and acquaintances was large enough that someone was involved in all the communities or organizations where there was important public information (and we all talked to each other enough). I suppose that’s the sort of thing which the Googlezon mythology describes, the creation of a global blogosphere, distilled down to each person’s interests and delivered by digital robots, providing all the information we need at the touch of a button, culled from what every one had offered. Again, that heaven, if that’s what it would be, ain’t here yet, either.

An old saying in the newspaper business is “If advertising isn’t going to pay for the news, who will, the tooth fairy?” Sharp business minds understand that waiting for the tooth fairy is a less appealing business plan than selling advertising. Thus we arrive at the professional consensus that a newspaper is first of all a retail merchandising tool, and only secondarily a means of supporting democracy. The critical value of the availability of reliable news about public affairs, a life blood of democracy, it seems to me, should be judged as only a bit less important than civility, mutual respect and enforceable legal agreements regarding how the public’s business is to be conducted. (The presumed goal being to assure, at least, the tyranny of the majority, and one hopes, significant consideration to minorities. While some readers would have the discussion at this point veer off toward the necessary demise of the two party system, please allow me to make a different point.) Like education in California, the way the purpose of our news is married to its funding doesn’t make sense; the funding structure doesn’t reflect the importance society places on it. (Or, perhaps, it does.)

I can envision a local news organization that appeals to the realization that getting the kind of quality information about the public’s business is not best left to the whims of advertising budgets, especially at a time like this. If in heaven, or sometime before, information will finally get its wish and become entirely free, there’s still however, before those final revolutions of love and truth, some smaller, but necessary preparatory revolutions. Perhaps like the extreme revolution I am proposing. We must consider that we will have to pay for the news, or we won’t be getting it reliably, especially at the local level.

Keep reading What’s going on around here…


Our toxic, malnourishing food supply (Updated)


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

Toxic food? Toxic lipstick? Toxic assets? Ponzi schemes? Comes from the same mindless mind-set: suck out the  life at each step along the supply chain, but keep claiming value, not poison, is being added. Last trusting person at the  end of the chain? Oops, sorry about that! Ah, well… I got mine.

We are blessed in our town to have a thriving, locally-owned, democratically-controlled, organic- and local-farm-oriented, 100% organic produce, cooperative food store, Ukiah Natural Foods… along with farmers’ markets and organic, biodynamic, CSA farms (listed in Localizing Links below). If you are local, and not a member of our co-op, you should be—for many reasons. A main reason is shown in the graphic above from an old post by Dave Pollard, Eat Shit and Die, which expands on the topic with details… if you can stomach it.

We have also banned GMO plants from our county, and certify or own organic farmers locally under the Mendocino Renegade label thanks to the Mendocino Organic Network.

One of our local organic farmers, Charles Martin, when asked why organic foods are pricey says simply: pay for healthy food or pay your Doctor… your choice.
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Update:
See also Staying Organic During Tough Times at OrganicToBe.org→

and Co-operatives: The Feeling is Mutual

and The Greenhorn Guide for Beginning Farmers

and Newly Discovered Toxic Chemical Is Common In Cosmetics
~

A distinguished panel tells a packed room of environmental journalists that the way we grow our food matters to a heating planet…

Go to Agriculture and climate change at RodaleInstitute.org


Local Victory Garden Program


From Julie Fetherston
4-H/Youth Development and Human Resources Advisor
UCCE Mendocino County

On Saturday, January 17th, twelve Mendocino County Master Gardeners put together a class called “Creating Your Own Victory Garden.” The class was held in Ukiah and was open to the general public. The response was tremendous with 60 people attending the class. Everyone had a wonderful time. The class was the first in a three part series that will take participants through planning, planting, harvesting and using the bounty from a Victory Garden.

What is a Victory Garden and why do I want to plant one?

Victory Gardens first appeared during World War I. As the conflict on the war front made it difficult for European farmers (those that weren’t off at war) to bring their crop to maturity and market, a food shortage ensued. Canada and United States’ efforts were needed to supplies our European allies with food. The U.S. government, concerned at how the food shortages might affect the home front, began a campaign to encourage citizens at home to grow their own food as part of the war effort. The gardens were called Liberty Gardens and growing food quickly became an act of patriotism. An emblematic poster from that era is a picture of Lady Liberty sewing garden seeds. The program was a success and supplied many communities with adequate food through the difficult times during and directly after World War I.

Victory Gardens regained their popularity during World War II as a patriotic answer to food shortages and rationing. Across the country Americans were encouraged to “grow their own.” It is often cited that 40% of all produce consumed in United States during World War II was grown in Victory Gardens. This was also the beginning of school gardens with the Bureau of Education’s formation of the United States School Garden Army. Our colleague 4-H and Master Gardener Advisor, Rose Hayden Smith has compiled wonderful information on this interesting era. To learn more explore her Victory Grower website.

What is happening with Victory Gardens today?

With United States involved in two wars and Americans feeling economically insecure, a movement has started across the country to revive Victory Gardens, encouraging citizens across the country to grow a portion of their food. This includes the Eat the View campaign led by Roger Doiron, who is trying to build support for replacing a portion of the White House lawn with a vegetable garden. While the thrill of raising a crop of cauliflower in your kitchen garden cannot be denied, the attention surrounding the Victory Garden revival is most likely tied to several very American traits: self-sufficiency, independence, and tenacity. Certainly, this is a difficult time economically and culturally. The global economy is in the worst economic crisis for decades. Rising food and transportation costs, coupled with job loss and the housing crunch, are creating hardship across the country and Americans are looking for a way to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their communities. Taking matters into their own hands, many people are addressing some of these issues by growing a local solution, literally.

Growing your own vegetables has many benefits. For starters, it can increase the quality and quantity of vegetables in your diet for less than you would pay at the market. In Mendocino County we are blessed with a mild climate that allows for year round vegetable gardening. If you plan right, you can avoid having zillions of zucchini, and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables from artichokes and chard, to spinach and watermelons.

Growing your own vegetables can also reduce your carbon footprint. If the average food item travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, then reducing your vegetable mile by approximately 1499 miles, 5,100 feet will definitely impact your carbon footprint. If you tear out lawn and replace it with your vegetable garden, you can most likely boost your impact by reducing water consumption, fertilizers etc…

Finally, gardening is healthy! Anyone who has double dug an asparagus bed or pulled weeds from a radish patch knows that gardening is good exercise and generally gives you a better outlook on life. Whether you are new to gardening and need some help getting started, or you are an experienced gardener looking for new ideas and camaraderie, please check our  Mendocino County calendar of events at UC Davis Cooperative Extension for our next scheduled class in the “Victory Garden Program.”


The Alzheimer’s Resource and Information Center

From Michael Laybourn
Hopland

A few years ago, a friend of mine found that his spouse needed care — someone to be there all the time. He started looking and I did too, to see where we could find information on giving care for Alzheimer disease. There didn’t seem to be anything at the time in Mendocino and Lake Counties, but there was an Alzheimer’s Association information center in Santa Rosa. I saw then, that there was going to be a great need for help in our county. Think baby boomers about to retire…

Alzheimer’s facts: 1 out of 8 people 65 and older have it. 70% of people with Alzheimer’s live at home cared for by family.

Some people do become forgetful as they get older. That is a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. Over time, Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn and carry out daily activities such as talking, eating or otherwise taking care of oneself. The patient must be watched and cared for all the time.

About the same time, a local group concerned about Alzheimer’s care got together in Ukiah and put on a fundraiser to raise money for local Alzheimer’s needs. The event was packed. Many people that attended, and others caring for their loved ones, convinced the group that there was a great immediate need for a resource and information center in both Mendocino and Lake Counties. I read about the fundraiser and invited some of the participants to give a talk to the Ukiah Rotary Club.

The group found that people needed information first. They began to put together an information center now called The Alzheimer’s Resource and Information Center. AREC is a hub for dispersing information about new research and development… a Center to help define how to care for and understand Alzheimers, and where financial and care assistance may be found. AREC is also a clearing house and referral service to help people find assistance and to help navigate caregivers through various agency systems.

The Hospice Board in Ukiah agreed to be the umbrella board for the center and donated office space. All the other time is volunteer time, including Executive Director Candace Horsely, our retired City Manager. This, to me, is an exceptional example of humans coming together to address a local community need.

In 2008, when the Center was starting up, the Ukiah Rotary agreed to provide a computer and printer for the office. Later in the year I applied for a Rotary district $1500 grant that has been approved. Yesterday, we presented the check to board member Elizabeth Santos.

The Alzheimer’s Resource and Education Center will use this $1,500 to go forward, which will be used as a match with other AREC and other agency funding to host an educational workshop in 2009 designed specifically for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. In this workshop, caregivers will learn skills that will enable them to understand and respond to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with knowledge and compassion. Professional assistance and training will be taught, dealing with typically occurring issues as the loved one descends further into advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.

Think about it. You may experience it some day. It’s good to know that there is a caring group that will be available for help.

The Center is open and anyone with questions or needing information can call Candace Horsley at 391.6188.
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See also the national Alzheimer’s Association
Image Credit: State of Orange – T-Shirts Available


Grow yourself some organic potatoes this spring


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

If you’ve ever dug up some organic potatoes you’d planted a few weeks before, cleaned them in the kitchen, fried or mashed them, and eaten them on the spot, you know how superior they are in flavor compared to store-bought. Like everything else prepared right out of the garden, or picked right off the tree, there is a special just-harvested flavor that is not going to be there a few minutes later.

Here’s where to buy organic seed potatoes: Wood Prairie Farm…→

…and here’s how to plant them: Organic Gardening Magazine Video.→

If you really want to be cutting edge, you can grow potatoes from their “true seed.“→

Have at ‘em!
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“#3. Homemade potato chips, preferably made with thin slices of freshly dug, organic red potatoes (scrubbed, not peeled), fried in homemade lard in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, and prepared by someone you adore who is willing to stand over a splattering pan of hot oil for an hour or two while you both devour batch after batch of warm, salted chips as soon as they are cool enough to touch. Serve with lots of laughs and plenty of iced tea or cold beer.”

Keep reading Five Things To Eat Before You Die over at FarmGirl Fare
~~
Roasted Potatoes © Cenorman | Dreamstime.com


A chicken coop for a small flock


From Gene Logsdon (1985)
Garden Farm Skills

A backyard henhouse for only a dozen or so chickens year-round should be commodious, a minimum of around 5 square feet of floor space per hen, which is much more than a commercial poultryman can afford. My henhouse design, based on what I’ve learned so far by building three coops of my own, differs from the standard designs in a few other ways, which you might find interesting to think about when building your own.

1. Predator Proofing. I would have preferred that my latest chicken coop be built on a concrete footing to make it more or less predator-proof. But pole construction was cheaper and easier. The bottom wall boards are of treated wood for rot resistance, and the wall is sunk into the ground 6 to 12 inches. Cats will not dig that far under to get in, and cats have always been my most troublesome predator—not my own, though, which I train not to bother chickens, but feral cats. I keep the dog tied next to the coop for further insurance.

2. The Size. I knew that for part of the year I would house approximately forty-five to fifty chickens, although there would be less than twenty year-round. Every year we buy six Rhode Island Red chicks and about thirty White Rock broiler chicks, the latter for meat, the former to add to the laying flock. The broilers are butchered when about ten weeks old, and later on I’ll butcher some old hens as they quit laying, so that the flock dwindles to around fifteen through winter. We buy chicks in June so have no need for brooder facilities. (The first few nights I might use a heat bulb on the chicks.) Anyhow, by my own idea of space requirement, a 10 by 20-foot building is more than ample. And it is tall enough so I can walk inside without hitting my head, as I did in the old coop.

Keep reading A chicken coop for a small flock at OrganicToBe.org


Cooperative Business


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

The Mondragón cooperatives of Spain combine credit unions and service cooperatives such as grocery stores with industrial manufacturing cooperatives, research centers, and a university — all as one intergrated unit. As a cooperative corporation, they are “an association of persons rather than an association of capital.” That means one person, one vote rather than votes apportioned to the amount of capital invested. It also means that the individual workers own and control the company they work in. They are the largest worker-owned cooperative in the world, doing many billions of dollars in sales. They own and operate thousands of supermarkets, a travel agency with hundreds of units, and gas stations. They also manufacture automotive parts, domestic appliances, bicycles, and bus bodies.

Although cheap energy has allowed organizations to balloon into huge monoliths that will now have to breakup and scale down into decentralized pieces, it is instructive how well the cooperative model can adapt to financial environments and serve its members. As our giant governments, banks, and corporations flounder trying to save a way of business that will have to change drastically in the years ahead, the cooperative model, along with small-scale private businesses, is a way local communities, such as ours, can adapt to the coming “mandates of reality.”

The Mondragón cooperative model can be compared to the corporate structure as follows:

· Owner-workers are valued as people. Management professionalism, product excellence, and customer satisfaction matter more than the rapid growth of profits.

· Owner-workers participate in management, with salary difference limited to a three-to-one ratio, rather than just being used at the whim of a grossly overpaid management class.

· The social contract commits everyone involved to the development of the business, with member-owner security and partnership with capital, rather than confrontation between labor and capital.

· Profits and losses are shared among all proportionally, rather than profits being internalized and costs being externalized irresponsibly.

Mondragón’s Community Bank, a credit union that serves as the core of its financial system, is owned and controlled by the member-owners of the cooperative. Without their own banking sytem, the cooperative would have failed. The bank invests in the development of new enterprises under the motto “Savings or Suitcases,” meaning members can either invest in their own community or watch their money leave their community to work elsewhere and enrich others. The cooperative also operates their own social security facility, which provides unemployment insurance, medical services, and medical insurance.

The Mondragón consumer cooperative grocery chain, with 264 stores, is run by a general assembly composed of an equal number of consumer-members and worker-members. The assembly elects a board that is similarly balanced, with six employees and six consumer-members, with a chairperson who is always a consumer.

Mondragón principles include (1) openness to all, regardless of ethnic background, religion, political beliefs, or gender; (2) the equality of all owner-workers and democratic control on the basis of one member, one vote; (3) the recognition of labor as the most essential, transformative factor of society and the renunciation of wage labor in favor of the full power of owner-workers to control the co-ops and distribute surpluses; (4) a definition of capital as accumulated labor, necessary for development and savings, with a limited return paid on that capital; (5) cooperation, defined as the development of the individual with others, not against others, to self-manage (managers are elected by the workers) and develop training and skills; and (6) wages that are comparable to prevailing local standards.

According to Don José María Arizmendiarrieta, the founder of Mondragón: “Cooperation is the authentic integration of people in the economic and social process that shapes a new social order; the cooperators must make this objective extend to all those that hunger and thirst for justice in the working world.”

Greg MacLeod, author of From Mondragón to America, writes: “The Cooperative Corporation itself is a moral entity having responsibility at three levels: (1) towards the individual employees, (2) towards the cooperative corporations which make up the Mondragón family, and (3) towards the general society of which it is the basic unit. As a microcosm of the general society, the enterprise must practice all the virtues demanded of the total society such as respect for the members, personal development and educational programs, social security and distributive justice.”

This successful alternative to the classic, top-down corporate model allows thinking outside the box store. Bottom-up democracy works and is the next step in bringing meaning into our work as well as our politics. Some of our politicians love to constantly spout off about bringing democracy to other nations, even if it takes our bombers and infantry to preemptively force it on them. Politicians who love democracy should not stop with politics. Let’s take them at their word, in our own local communities where the action will be in the future, and ask them to help us complete the American revolution by bringing democracy into our workplaces and our economies.


Dear President Obama…


By Jason Bradford
Willits

Dear President Obama…

…How You Could Give Me Hope

I know heaps of ridiculously high expectations are being placed upon you, but allow me to give you five simple, inexpensive and immediate ways that you could provide hope.

1. Convert White House lawns to food gardens. In addition to an assortment of vegetables (imagine fresh arugula whenever you are at home), go ahead and include hens, a beehive, and perhaps a dairy cow (I think you have the space). I am a farmer so I know that getting your nails dirty would be a great compliment to a basketball workout and is fantastic for mental relaxation and acuity. A walk through the garden would likely help during tense negotiations, whether foreign or domestic. But most importantly, this move would give people the message that some degree of self-reliance is good for them and their country.

2. Bring House Rep. Roscoe Bartlett over to your office for a special presentation of his energy talk, make sure your cabinet is there, and present him with an appropriate Presidential Medal of some sort. He’s a Republican so this would be a great bipartisan move. He is also a bona fide scientist who can speak with authority on the “source” side of the equation with respect to fossil fuels.

3. Invite James Hansen and his wife to stay in the Lincoln bedroom. Keep him around long enough to personally be assured that you understand his positions and reasoning. He believes substantive changes in energy policy need to happen within your first term or the planet is toast. Unfortunately, I think he’s right.

4. Place Herman Daly as a key economic advisor. So far your economic team looks to me like the same folks who created the mess. I have absolutely no confidence in them. Much of the banking system is a black hole that is insolvent and unredeemable. By contrast, the hundreds of billions (soon to be trillions?) of dollars wasted in shoring up banks could help pay down our ecological debts if allocated wisely. Maybe you are going to tell these guys to do a pirouette and reform themselves and their ilk?

5. Develop a “Securing the Basics” plan. With the economy tanking, the risk of civil unrest, both here and abroad, is real. Because we are mostly a society of urban and suburban consumers, households in the U.S. must pay for basic goods. The extreme income inequity in the U.S. is an additional vulnerability. Lack of self-reliance means that if oil imports are cut off suddenly or commerce falters due to a cascade of credit failures, the very necessities of life such as food, water, and shelter may be lost to tens of millions of citizens. If the population knew that a credible plan existed to mitigate for such a catastrophe, ensuring fair and timely distribution of goods, it would reduce the likelihood that panic would set in. Over the long-term, a society that is not so import-dependent, especially for food and energy, should be a policy goal.

Read the whole letter at The Oil Drum

Hat tip to Meca


The gap and the bridge


From Dave Smith
Ukiah

What is real anymore? Local neighbors, you and me, struggling to weather a financial tsunami that threatens to take us all down with it.

What is real? Our need as citizens to “put away childish things” and work to find a common ground on which to stand together.

That common ground is local and precious, not national or symbolic. It requires us to trust, not fuss. It moves us back in a direction that we lost long ago when we all decided that the point of life was to stampede through the door and grab all we could before someone else did. And now that the grabbing is over, the bills are coming due in the mail, and in the environment.

Judging another’s values based on our identity as consumers, of various political stripes, has been a favorite pastime writ large by mass media… and it kills community. What will get us through locally will be the virtues we share, not the values we fight over.

Values are legion, symbolic, and divisive. Political values are conservative vs liberal, right vs left, us vs them; economic values are socialist vs capitalist, communist vs fascist, etc. etc., all made moot by their smudging together into a bewildering hodge-podge of muttering and grimacing, point-counterpoint yelling and screaming… then suddenly gone silent with the overwhelming alarms of financial and planetary disaster, and personal tragedy. What now?

Virtues are what is best of who we really are. They are the fundamentals of our individual character, and full of meaning. Although defined most recently by religions, they go back much further in ancient wisdom traditions before religions codified them, and thus are relevant to the secular as well. Faith in each other, hope in the future, justice for all, courage to do what is right, and love for our neighbors. And there are a couple more that we’ve forgotten even existed: Prudence, which is wisdom and sensibleness in practical matters; and Temperance, which means to be moderate in one’s needs… knowing when enough is enough.

It is from this place of responsibility that citizens can expect and demand an open and responsive democratic government, both at the county and national level. Closed off, suspicious, and paranoid government officials, as recently demonstrated by our county CEO refusing access to journalists, are not what a renewed and empowered citizenry requires in this county, and at this time in history.

While we stand and fight for our values, as a democratic society demands that we do as citizens, we will find much more to admire and work with by recognizing each other’s virtues and responsibilities. The measure is how we respect and work together as citizens, neighbors, political representatives, and journalists.

Recognize the virtues in a neighbor, and you’ll find a friend, not a foe. And in a time of fear and trembling, that’s what builds a community.
~~

The problems…

Crash Course in Economics

The Automatic Earth

Local solutions…

Mendo Time Bank

Mendo Moola

Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. ~Wendell Berry


More Stonewalling: Growth of County Debt (Updated)


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

Continue to YourPublicMoney.com


Update

From Dave Smith
Ukiah

The feeling returns
whenever we close out eyes
Lifting my head
looking around inside.

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts dont do what I want them to
Facts just twist the truth around
Facts are living turned inside out
Facts are getting the best of them
Facts are nothing on the face of things
Facts dont stain the furniture
Facts go out and slam the door
Facts are written all over your face
Facts continue to change their shape

I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…
I’m still waiting…

Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads


Ukiah’s Saturday Farmers’ Market 1/31/09


From Scott Cratty
Mendocino County

Greetings!

Looks like another freakishly balmy winter Saturday… take advantage with a trip to the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market. Help us celebrate the mid-way mark for the new off-season market.  When we conclude the market this Saturday we will have successfully extending our farmers’ market season by three whole months with three to go.  Stop by and get yourself a treat. You will be supporting the many fine farmers, ranchers, apiarists, fishers and crafters (how about getting your baby a World Peace Doll or some server dinner on some new locally crafted linens for Valentines Day?) who have toughed out our first winter market and made it a success– helping to create a local market opportunity that can pay dividends for our local economy and personal health for years to come.

Thanks to John Johns for finding Josh Madsen to play for us last Saturday. Keep bringing those musical recommendations, recipes, suggested additions, AG related news items, etc.

This weekend we have one more scheduled appearance by the Julian Trio.

At this Saturday’s market you can expect our usual array of great vendors — come for Caroline, Pedro or Richard’s greens, fish should be in the house, the Ford’s great natural beef, Shamrock Cheese, an array of Olivino oil, baked goods that support the Ford Street Project, Thanksgiving coffee, lots of really great crafts and much more.  We have several new things on the horizon … but not quite ready including a seaweed vendor, jams and jellies from two producers, and …. Mendocino grown wheat! Shamrock promises to start bringing their fresh local eggs, perhaps as soon as this Saturday.

For those of you unhappy with things like mercury in your processed foods

(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_16627.cfm) or our non-organic, commodity and monoculture oriented national AG policy in general, the Organic Consumers Union is one of the groups leading the charge for more farm, food, and eater friendly policies.  You can get a status and find some recommended actions at http://www.organicconsumers.org/vilsack.cfm.

See you at the market.

["...studies have shown that including apples in your diet may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, liver, prostate and lung. The flavonoids in apples were credited with the anti-cancer effects." -DS] See: Apples are beneficial only if organically grown


Bad Faith Economics – Krugman


By Paul Krugman
NYT

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Some of these arguments are obvious cheap shots. John Boehner, the House minority leader, has already made headlines with one such shot: looking at an $825 billion plan to rebuild infrastructure, sustain essential services and more, he derided a minor provision that would expand Medicaid family-planning services — and called it a plan to “spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives.”

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.

It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)

The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000 — and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.

Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.

The point is that nobody really believes that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending. Meanwhile, it’s clear that when it comes to economic stimulus, public spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts — and therefore costs less per job created (see the previous fraudulent argument) — because a large fraction of any tax cut will simply be saved.

This suggests that public spending rather than tax cuts should be the core of any stimulus plan. But rather than accept that implication, conservatives take refuge in a nonsensical argument against public spending in general.

Finally, ignore anyone who tries to make something of the fact that the new administration’s chief economic adviser has in the past favored monetary policy over fiscal policy as a response to recessions.

It’s true that the normal response to recessions is interest-rate cuts from the Fed, not government spending. And that might be the best option right now, if it were available. But it isn’t, because we’re in a situation not seen since the 1930s: the interest rates the Fed controls are already effectively at zero.

That’s why we’re talking about large-scale fiscal stimulus: it’s what’s left in the policy arsenal now that the Fed has shot its bolt. Anyone who cites old arguments against fiscal stimulus without mentioning that either doesn’t know much about the subject — and therefore has no business weighing in on the debate — or is being deliberately obtuse.

These are only some of the fundamentally fraudulent antistimulus arguments out there. Basically, conservatives are throwing any objection they can think of against the Obama plan, hoping that something will stick.

But here’s the thing: Most Americans aren’t listening. The most encouraging thing I’ve heard lately is Mr. Obama’s reported response to Republican objections to a spending-oriented economic plan: “I won.” Indeed he did — and he should disregard the huffing and puffing of those who lost.

[Action: Fill the internet with emails, and the phone system with calls to our representatives. Don't let utterly failed policies or roadblocks screw America over again... -DS]


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