Jim Mastin: Do Not Privitize Our Garbage!


From JIM MASTIN
Mendocino County

To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

Dear Chair Brown,

Due to a series of meetings I must attend in Sacramento on Tuesday I am unable to personally address the Board regarding agenda item #5D (Review and Possible Adoption of Solid Wastes of Willits, Inc. Proposed Contract…). Please distribute my comments to the Board for their consideration.

As a resident of Mendocino County, former member of the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority and as a candidate for supervisor I strongly oppose the proposed contract and urge a no vote by the Board of Supervisors.

Many areas of the proposal should be of immediate concern (i.e., eliminating bi-lingual educational materials, lack of diversion performance requirements, elimination of wood and yard waste recycling at the Albion Transfer Station, failure of many performance compliance issues, reported overcharging of over half its customers including all of its South Coast customers, and more).

I understand that the County cannot afford to subsidize transfer station operations and that privatizing the operation is one option.

Another way would be for the County to raise gate fees and cut expenses sufficiently to allow the transfer stations to break even. That’s what’s being offered by Solid Waste of Willits, but does not give away control of our county’s waste stream.

In choosing between these courses of action, I hope that you will keep the following points in mind:

1.  Giving long-term extensions to Solid Wastes of Willits for its franchise collection contracts is a major benefit to them. Would the County — and the public — get fair value, or any value, from this concession?

2.  Fifteen years is a long term for an exclusive solid waste contract, especially if it has automatic rate adjustments that could substantially boost the gate fee every year. Can anyone predict if the gate fee will fairly reflect the actual costs of operation five years or ten years into the contract?

Is There Rehab For This Oil Overdose?


From CAROLYN BAKER
Speaking Truth To Power Blog

[…] Before the addict experiences a fatal overdose and ravages everyone and everything around him, there is always the choice to end the addiction and enter treatment. Treatment involves withdrawal from the substance, then taking a long, exhaustive, meticulous look inside oneself to confront the demon of the addiction. Much support is necessary; the addict cannot make the journey alone.

The Transition Handbook frames our dependence on hydrocarbon energy in terms of an addiction. We can blame, rationalize, project, deny-we can employ whatever defense mechanism we choose from humanity’s vast repertoire of them, but like the hard core addict, the human race is committing suicide. It is willing to kill every form of life in the oceans, cause the extinction of every species on earth, pollute every cubic inch of breathable air, poison every drop of water on the planet, and yes, enable an unfathomable cataclysm such as we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico at this moment, in order to perpetuate the lifestyle to which it feels entitled. Like all addictions, this one is both irrational and insane.

Every person who has chosen to research Peak Oil, climate change, global economic meltdown, species extinction, and population overshoot is not unlike an addict who has some moment of clarity in which he can actually choose to walk to the nearest rehab facility and fall on his face screaming for help. None of us can do that investigative work without the massive support of other “cheap energy addicts in recovery”. None of us can do it without a spiritual as well as a logistical recovery program which all authentic recovery absolutely requires.

Like the recovering addict there will be moments of terror about what the future holds,

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain


From BOOKREPORTER.COM

“…a warm hug of a story.”

In Garth Stein’s touching story, the appealing narrator is a dog named Enzo, who (of course) cannot communicate as he’d like to, by talking with his family. Instead, he pours his considerable heart and spirit into this book, sharing his experiences and reflections with readers. Although Enzo is frustrated with his limitations as a canine, he comforts himself with the fact that, according to a documentary he watched about Mongolia (Enzo is a dedicated television viewer), he will be reincarnated as a human. And he knows a lot about being a human after watching his master Denny Swift, who is a hero to him.

At the beginning of the book, Enzo is just barely clinging to life, so he spends time reflecting upon his past. As Denny, who is a race car driver, has told him, drivers cannot contemplate their moves while they make them. Racing is like living; you can only do it and then remember it at a later date. For Enzo, in these last days he immerses himself in memories.

His reminiscences begin with the day Denny chose him out of a heap of puppies, taking him from a country farm to an apartment in Seattle. Although Enzo doesn’t enjoy living there, he adores Denny and thus looks on this as a good life. He later develops a fondness for Eve, “the interloper,” who Denny falls in love with and marries. He stands in literally for Denny on the day that his daughter, Zoë, is born. Denny is off racing in Daytona, Florida while Enzo is at the new mother’s side.

For Denny, the joyous day of Zoë’s birth is overshadowed as his racing career takes a beating. After a year of obtaining sponsorships in order to enter the race, he loses this hard-won opportunity to shine when a driver on his team has an accident… More here
~~

PG&E Proposition 16 Update


From BILL McEWEN
The Fresno Bee

The mail the other day brought the usual offers for debt relief and loan modifications, along with something new: a slick flier declaring that Proposition 16 would stick up for people sick of government debt. I had a hard time deciding who peddled the biggest scam — the mortgage and credit card debt hustlers, or Pacific Gas & Electric, which is spending $35 million backing Proposition 16.

The utility monopoly is trying to rejigger the state constitution and protect its bottom line against start-up municipal power companies. And it’s using a deceptive advertising campaign for a law that would require two-thirds voter approval before local governments go into the power business or existing PG&E competitors expand their territories.

PG&E says Proposition 16, which is on the June ballot, is about choice, voice and transparency. But the so-called Taxpayers Right to Vote Act is more about limiting consumer choice, preserving monopolies and keeping utility rates high.

In the time since I last wrote about Proposition 16, opponents have been working to overcome PG&E’s deep pockets and cut through the baloney served by company shills. For example, John Geesman, a renewable energy advocate and former member of the California Energy Commission, uncovered the truth behind PG&E’s initiative by wading through the transcript of a company shareholders meeting. Geesman blogged thatPG&E  chief executive officer Peter Darbee told shareholders that the goal was to defeat local power choice once and for all instead of having to continually fend off the specter of customer defection. Darbee also speculated that voters would be receptive to Proposition 16 because of anti-government anger.

Regulating the disaster


From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubon’s Book Blog

As long as we desperately need oil to run our economy – and we have done virtually nothing to meaningfully transition off oil – we can clamor for regulation that will keep us safe, but cannot actually propose the measures that would work. We are too deeply invested in the cause.

We still don’t have the faintest idea how much oil is spewing out of the well in the Gulf. Nor do we have the faintest idea what the full environmental consequence of what may well be the biggest single-event human-caused. ecological disaster of all time (the very fact that I have to add the word “single-event” to that statement should tell you something). We know that it is almost certainly more than all the low estimates to date, and we know that the ecological consequences will be huge, lasting and we do not understand them.

That is, we know some of the potential effects, we know they will be horrible and devastating to oceans, wildlife, people, communities and the nation, that they will play out in ecologies both human and wild, in politics, economics, in day to day life in thousands and thousands of ways, all of them horrible. We know that the costs will be unendurable and we know that they will play out not over weeks, but over years and decades. And we also know that we don’t know what many of them will be. Consider this AP report:

The loop current could carry oil from the spill east and spread it about 450 miles to the Florida Keys, while the Louisiana coastal current could move the oil as far west as central Texas... More here
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A Plutocratic Universe


From GLENN W. SMITH
FireDogLake.com

It’s not lost on the elite that the world is fast approaching the inevitable global Resource Wars. And that means that in America, the real struggle is between democracy and plutocracy, as the plutocrats place as many barriers as possible (voter i.d., secrecy, assaults on privacy, great income disparity and enforced poverty) between the government and the governed. They may not affect a science-fiction escape to another planet, but they might escape to Dubai.

Autocrats, plutocrats, authoritarian ideologues and elitists of all stripes speak often of the people’s inability to govern themselves in a complex world that requires expertise – namely, the self-justifying expertise of the elite themselves. With surprising frankness, federal appeals court Judge Richard A. Posner summed up the elite’s paternalistic rationale:

Few citizens have the formidable intellectual and moral capacities (let alone the time) required for the role that [popular democracy] assigns to the citizenry…

The anti-democratic sentiment is hard enough to stomach. But what really galls is the blindness to an indisputable fact of history:  it’s the autocrats, plutocrats, dictators, duci, fuhrers, imperial presidents and corporate barons who have lacked the necessary “intellectual and moral capacities” to cope.

More at FireDogLake
~~

There’s a Reason We Need to Keep Reminding People About George W. Bush


From CROOKS AND LIARS

The other day, Rep. Ed Markey made the following mundane but true observation:

For years, the Bush administration’s oil strategy placed the granting of drilling leases ahead of safety review.

This irked Neil Cavuto no end:

Ipso-facto — Bush to blame for the big leak-o.

Just like he’s apparently behind that big thousand-point swing-o.

Just like he’s to blame for the unemployment rate that’s higher than when he left office, and the deficits that are much higher than any year he was in office.

All problems, all Bush, all the time — probably until the end of time.

Cavuto wants a “statute of limitations” on blaming Bush. “Just give it a break,” he pleaded.

Nuh-uh.

It’s true that the miseries we’re currently enduring are not merely the fault of the sole personage of George W. Bush, the man now widely viewed by conservatives as The Man Who Betrayed Conservative Values. He had lots and lots of help. In fact, he had millions of little helpers — all those movement conservatives who now want to pretend that he wasn’t a real conservative.

This is because, in reality, Bush is The Man Who Nearly Destroyed the American Economy. It wasn’t Bush’s “betrayal” of the “conservative values” they believe are so time-honored and proven that caused his abysmal failure — it was those values themselves, and Bush’s steady adherence to them throughout his tenure.

Plummeting Marijuana Prices Create A Panic In The Emerald Triangle


From KQED

For decades, illegal marijuana cultivation has been an economic lifeblood for three counties in northern California known as the Emerald Triangle.

The war on drugs and frequent raids by federal drug agents have helped support the local economy — keeping prices for street sales of pot high and keeping profits rich.

But high times are changing. Legal pot, under the guise of the California’s medical marijuana laws, has spurred a rush of new competition. As a result, the wholesale price of pot grown in these areas is plunging.

Demand Not Meeting Supply

In 1983, the Reagan administration launched a massive air and ground campaign to eradicate pot and lock up growers in northern California. Charley Custer, a writer and community activist, had just arrived to Humboldt County from Chicago. With the Reagan crackdown, Custer recalls, wholesale prices shot up — to as high as $5,000 a pound. That sudden and ironic windfall for those growers willing to risk prison time transformed the community.

“A lot of people were living on welfare and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a long time before pot made it possible to be part of the middle class,” Custer says.

Nearly 30 years later, Custer says that boom may be over.

“Outdoor growers are having a hard time unloading their fall harvest,” Custer says. “And this is six months later and when some people do move it, they don’t get nearly the price they were hoping for.”

This Is What Happens Sometimes When You Play God


From ROBERT C. KOEHLER
Energy Bulletin

Dark Green

This is what happens sometimes when you play God:

“Birds dropped from the air. The sky rained mud. And, as men from the rig struggled to save themselves from the aftermath of (the) explosion . . . the Gulf of Mexico itself caught on fire.”

The Washington Post, covering a federal inquiry into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, summarized the scene, described by witnesses on a nearby supply ship, as “almost Biblical” – which is sort of a comic-book expression these days, but conjures up a moment of superstitious awe that, God knows, seems appropriate. This is love of nature stood on its head: nature as (wow!) spectacle. What a symbol for the profound alienation of our times.

And we’re all caught up in this crisis of faith, no matter where we position ourselves on the political spectrum. No matter how comfortable we are, no matter how securely gated our community, we live with profound insecurity, at the event horizon, you might say, of awareness: Civilization cannot go on this way. Our way of life is unsustainable. If we don’t destroy ourselves with our own nuclear-armed self-hatred, “nature” (as though this were a force separate from us) will do the job for us.

All of which brings me to the Dark Mountain Project, a growing movement out of the U.K. that challenges mainstream environmentalism, which it sees as hopelessly compromised, collusive with global capitalism and the myth of material progress, and tied to technical (rather than spiritual) solutions for the profound structural contradictions of Western civilization.

Investigations You Need To Read


From RYAN KNUTSON
ProPublica

A dose of accountability news:

  • Bloomberg tracked dollars around the world to show how companies avoid paying [1] billions in taxes through a method known as “transfer pricing.”
  • The New York Times reports that federal regulators skirted permit requirements [2] when allowing BP and other companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In Texas, a stimulus program to weatherize homes has been executed so poorly [3]that 60 percent of the projects need to be redone, according to the Texas Watchdog.
  • More people in the military are being hospitalized [4] for mental disorders than for injuries, according to the USA Today. Last month was the first time that has occurred in the 15 years since tracking such data began.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is eyeing another part of Wall Street, reports The Wall Street Journal. This time, it’s looking at banks that sold municipal bonds yet set themselves up to profit from their failure [5] ($).

These stories are part of our ongoing roundup of investigations from other news outlets. For more, visit our Investigations Elsewhere page.
~~

My Bad


From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This article originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser May 2010)

I first heard the expression My Bad used on a basketball court circa 1975. The expression most likely came into being among jazz musicians, for many of the most popular expressions emanating from black America were first used by musicians and then quickly adapted to the basketball court. By the time these expressions were in common usage among white people, their original meanings were frequently distorted and even reversed. The most famous example of such reversal is the expression Up Tight. Originally an expression of praise for excellent playing by an improvising musician, and used with that original meaning by Little Stevie Wonder singing, “Up tight outta sight,” white folk eventually deformed the phrase to mean tense, as in “I am so uptight.” Fascinating, no?

My immediate inspiration for writing this piece is the catastrophic oil flood ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico and the grief my friends and I are feeling about the catastrophe. I refuse to call this horror a leak or a spill, for it is a flood that will likely render the Gulf of Mexico a dead sea for the rest of our mortal lives. So what does the ruination of the Gulf of Mexico have to do with the expression My Bad? I will tell you.

Nowadays the expression My Bad is generally used to mean My Mistake. Someone spills a cup of coffee and says, “Oops. My bad.” Or someone forgets to bring the beer and apologizes with, “Sorry. My bad.” But the original meaning of the expression was more profound than a simple apology. To illustrate: I am playing a game of basketball. My teammate makes a poor pass and despite my best effort I am barely able to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Drug Stores vs. Natural Food Stores


Click To Enlarge
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Book Review: Women Food and God

From RAISE HEALTHY EATERS

Today on her show Oprah will announce that she will never diet again. Many of us who embrace a non-diet approach to healthy living are doing the happy dance. We’ve seen Oprah struggle and have been waiting for the day she would learn to eat more intuitively – and use her platform to get the message out.

The person responsible for Oprah’s “aha” moment is Geneen Roth, the author of the new bestseller, Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. Roth has gained and lost 1000 pounds in her lifetime bouncing between anorexia and obesity. When I heard of this book I rushed to the store and devoured it.

And, of course, I had to tell you all about it.

The premise
“No matter how developed you are in any other areas of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat says it all”

This is the crux of Roth’s message. After years of many highs and lows in both her weight and emotional state, she decided to give up the struggle with food and her body. She not only naturally fell to the right weight for her, she found her true self in the process.

Roth is not new to writing books or helping women conquer their issues with food. But for the first time the mainstream might be ready for what she has to say. Having Oprah’s endorsement is a major plus, but it helps that many women are tiring of the endless quest for the perfect weight, body and diet.

More here
~~

Michael Pollan Immortalized as Heirloom Tomato


From THE FOOD SECTION

Author and food luminary Michael Pollan has been widely praised for his thoughtful inquiries into how our food is produced and what it means for our health and environment. For his work and impact, he was recently named to Time‘s annual Time 100 list of noted figures.

So, it is not surprising that the next logical step in his apotheosis, would, of course, be his immortalization as an heirloom tomato.

According to anniesannuals.com:

‘Michael Pollan’ is an odd shaped mutant! (The tomato that is.) Egg shaped fruits are yellow with green stripes & some have little “nubbins” on the ends. Related to ‘Green Zebra’ but with a milder taste & a good amount of sweetness. Very popular in taste tests. Plus the bloom on this variety is reported to be quite showy. Nice! Named after the amazing author & teacher -whose books we highly recommend.

As esteemed as Pollan — the writer — may be, his tomato self is not immune from the vagaries of agriculture: “‘Michael Pollan’ is possibly susceptible to Blossom End Rot so make sure & water him evenly to prevent this from occurring. The tomato that is!”
~~

Dave Pollard: Integrating Six Models of a Better Way to Live


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World Blog

Since I’ve retired I’ve been spending more time meeting with people in, and learning more about, six movements that are proposing, and working to implement, models of a better way to live. My motivation for this is simple: I believe our industrial civilization is going to collapse (in cascading spasms) in this century, and I want my grandchildren to have the tools and knowledge to deal with the crash and, if they survive it, to create a more sustainable society in its aftermath.

The six movements are:

  1. The Transition Movement: Originally developed to allow communities to prepare for the End of Oil and make the transition to a low-energy, renewable-energy future, this movement has now expanded its scope to encompass preparations to adapt to the effects of inevitable dramatic climate change in the coming decades.
  2. The Permaculture / Cradle-to-Cradle Sustainability Movements: Although the term “permaculture” is being generalized to include anything and everything related to economic and ecological sustainability, at its core it is about natural, sustainable food production and local food self-sufficiency. The Cradle-to-Cradle movement is the analogous (to permaculture) approach for production of other goods, with everything reused and restorable so there is no waste, no loss of value, ever.
  3. The Intentional Communities Movement: This movement is principally about encouraging cooperative and collective housing, though it extends to helping people find others with common values and helping them build on these values, and deal with the challenges of communal living, such as achieving consensus and resolving conflicts… More here
    ~~

How Do Christians Become Conservative?


From MIKE LUX
Progressive Strategies

Apparently since “the poor will always be with us”, we can go ahead and screw them. But Jesus making a prediction that there will always be oppressive societies doesn’t mean he wanted us to join the oppressors. By clinging desperately to that one verse in the Bible, and ignoring all the others about the poor and the rich, Christian conservatives show themselves to be hypocrites, plain and simple.

When you are in the political world, you have decisions to make every single day about who you will try to help and who you won’t. In spite of the earnest quest of good technocrats everywhere, the simple fact is that there are only a few win-win solutions. Who you tax, who you give a tax break to, what programs you cut or add to, who you tighten regulations on, and who you loosen them on, what kind of contractors are eligible for government work, which school districts and non-profit groups get federal money, etc: these political decisions are generally not win-win. Instead, they mean that one group of people win, and one group of people loses. It is the nature of politics, and you can’t take the politics out of politics.

The most fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that question of which side you are on. Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be, that society owes its prosperity to the prosperous, and that government’s job when they have to make choices is to side with those businesspeople who are doing well, because all good things trickle down from them. Progressives, on the other hand, believe it is the poor and those who are ill-treated who need the most help from their government, and that prosperity comes from all of us — the worker as well as the employer, the consumer as well as the seller, the struggling entrepreneur trying to make it as well as the wealthy who already have.

The Second Leg of the Great Depression Was Caused by European Defaults


From WASHINGTON’S BLOG

Many Americans know that the Great Depression was started by the bursting of the giant Wall Street bubble of the 1920’s (fueled by the use of bank deposits on speculative gambling, which is why Glass-Steagall was passed) , which in turn caused a run on American banks.

But most Americans don’t know that the second leg of the Depression was caused by European defaults.

As Yves Smith reminds us:

Recall that the Great Depression nadir was the sovereign debt default phase.

The second leg down of the Depression was larger than the first, as shown by this chart of the Dow:

The second leg down was primarily initiated by the failure of the Creditanstalt bank in Austria. Creditanstalt (also spelled Kreditanstalt) declared bankruptcy in May 1931.

As Time Magazine noted on November 2, 1931:

May 14 [1931]: First thunderclap of the present crisis: collapse in Vienna of Kreditanstalt, colossal Rothschild bank, which is taken over by the Austrian Government, shaking confidence in related German banks.

Underwater Oil Volcano: Worst Case Scenario (Updated)


From NATURAL NEWS

Reports about the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been largely underestimated, according to commentators, including Paul Noel, a Software Engineer for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He believes that the pocket of oil that’s been hit is so powerful and under so much pressure that it may be virtually impossible to contain it. And Noel is not the only person questioning the scope of this disaster.

A recent story from the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports that many independent scientists believe the leak is spewing far more than the 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, per day being reported by most media sources. They believe the leak could be discharging up to 25,000 barrels (more than one million gallons) of crude oil a day right now.

The riser pipe that was bent and crimped after the oil rig sank is restricting some of the flow from the tapped oil pocket, but as the leaking oil rushes into the well’s riser, it is forcing sand with it at very high speeds and “sand blasting” the pipe (which is quickly eroding its structural integrity).

According to a leaked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by an Alabama newspaper, if the riser erodes any further and creates more leaks, up to 50,000 barrels, or 2.1 million gallons, per day of crude oil could begin flooding Gulf waters every day.

Real Systemic Risk


From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

[…] The real, the main, the major systemic risk is not in the banking or even the economic system. It’s in the political system. And neither of them can or will eventually be saved.

The real systemic risk lies in the fact that politicians the world around operate on the premise that if they don’t rock the cradle of the banking herd too hard, they’ll survive to receive another round of hand outs and serve another term. And another. That and most of them are absolutely clueless when it comes to the field they’re supposed to oversee and regulate. And the only people who can tell them how and what are the lobbyists who work for the very parties they’re there to regulate.

That is real systemic risk. The kind that would affect you yourself. The political system versus the economic system. And they have become hard to tell apart, because they serve the same purpose.

The link to the oil disaster? Halliburton poured cement into “the hole” based on depth information they received from BP. Turned out, the problem was way deeper, and the pressure, therefore, was way stronger. And then it all blew.

What better metaphor for all of you to understand what’s going on in the marketplace today? The EU pours $1 trillion down the hole, but the hole is far deeper than anyone seems to realize. Perfect metaphor.

The markets in the days to come? Volatility rules. While all the stock exchanges had their lofty gains, the euro was at $1.2752 Friday afternoon, and it’s at $1.2757 right now. Does this require any further explanation? We’re counting down the days, weeks, maybe months.

Volatility, chaos, what’s next? Mayhem?!
~~

Should the Ukiah Valley Become the Killing Fields for the Bay Area?


From SAMUEL FROMARTZ
ChewsWise

Factory Farm “sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop.”

Jane Black of the Washington Post interviewed David Kirby, author of ‘Animal Factory’ . This one passage really stuck out.

Q: Of all the shocking statistics and stories in the book, what is the one that affected you most?

A: I visited 20 states. I saw things I never thought I would see. I smelled things I never thought I would smell in my life. But one night, I was at a small family farm in Illinois that raised pigs. Across the street was a pig factory. It was at night. The workers had gone home. And as soon as it got dark, you could hear the screams and the squealing and the crying. It was not like one pig over there. Like hundreds.

Q: Did something happen?

A: No. This was just a night on a factory farm. Because the pigs get bigger and bigger and the pens don’t. And they fight. It sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop. It was the most haunting and most tragic sound I’ve ever heard. And I think it was because it didn’t stop. If there had been a commotion in the barn and they all started making noise, I might have forgotten about it. But this was arresting. That tells me these are really unhealthy animals, that there are too many animals and that they really are stressed out.
~
See also Again: Slaughter On The Farm With Mobile Units
~~

The Economics of Organic Farming


From OLGA BONFIGLIO
CommonDreams.org

[“Biodynamic heaven” above from Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, Mendocino County, where I get my weekly basket of dense nutrition. Now recruiting members for this season in Willits, Ukiah, Marin County, and Bay Area. See interview here. -DS]

Growing local organic food may be the best path toward economic recovery.  It may also be key to building stronger and healthier communities.

“Our [struggling] economy is making a compelling case that we shift toward more local food,” said Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis.  “The current system fails on all counts and it’s very efficient at taking wealth out of our communities.”

Meter spoke at the annual conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held recently in La Crosse, Wisc.

The bank bailouts have stabilized the crisis but they haven’t addressed wealth in local communities, he said.  It’s likely that change may come through food because it is the third largest household expense (12.4 percent or $6,133) and $1 trillion nationally.  The average consumer spends $49,638 per year with housing the largest expense (34 percent or $16,900), transportation number three (17.6 percent or $8,753) and insurance number four (10.8 percent or $5,336) (visualeconomics.com).

“Everyone needs to eat and a local food economy forces us to think differently,” said Meter.

Meter shared figures from his study of southwestern Wisconsin where 106,000 residents earn a total income of $2.7 billion.  However, 30 percent of the people live below the poverty line.  Out of 6,804 farms, 586 farmers sell less than $10,000 per year while 11 percent sell more than $100,000.  Only 382 farms sell directly to consumers and 133 farms are organic.  Such disparities result in lop-sided and unfair policies that need to be changed to meet everyone’s needs, Meter pointed out.

Addicted to Permanent Thoughtlessness


From FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
Exerpted

[…] We are living through the aftershocks of a world pressed by limits to growth, and – addicted to that condition of permanent thoughtlessness, and having been told that the permanence pf growth was ensured by the solidity of industry and government alike – today demand increasing debt to make up for declining wealth. The worldwide deleveraging that we have sought to forestall by means of “stimuli” and financial chicanery will be all the more painful and dislocating with every day that we put off our reckoning.

The ancient Greeks were the source of a kind of wisdom about self-government that today’s Greeks – and the rest of the world – have forgotten, only after Europeans and Americans (especially) over the past several hundred years explicitly overturned their influence – particularly the legacy of that inheritance in Christendom. Bans against “usury” – now regarded as quaint and incomprehensible – were most fundamentally bans upon current generations stealing from future generations. Limits upon debt were established to prevent people from living beyond their means, to constrain their appetites to what was appropriate within the limits of the world. It is an ancient teaching that we are rediscovering not by dint of wisdom and a habituated capacity to embrace self-rule, but by dint of having no other choice.

Several nights ago, Wendell Berry spoke to a packed – overflowing – auditorium in the Arlington library. Some hope is to be found in the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly composed of young people, wanting to hear from that older man some words about what we are now to do. And he concluded a marvelous evening of reflections and thoughts with a response to a question about Oil and Limits with the reply that he was waiting – as we should all be waiting – for someone to tell us that “we’ve got to use less,” that someone must make a criticism of our “standard of living” and speak in terms of “limits and context.” The context of which he spoke explicitly was that nature was speaking – “very noisily” – to those who would listen, and that the “news from the world” was quite clear that we needed to begin speaking and living under self-imposed limits – or those limits that would be violently imposed upon us.
~
Original Article Crises here
~~

People’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state


From JOE BAGEANT
Excerpted

Booze, rage and justice in the participation age

[…] It is now clear to me that the people’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state. Its various channels, eddies and pools, regardless of type, can be directed toward all sorts of mischief and profit. Left or right, the angry throngs on both sides can be managed and directed. They can be sent chasing various injustices, denouncing evil characters on Wall Street, Times Square bombers, BP executives, or whatever, worked up into slobbering outrage over Sarah Palin, and thus kept divided and working against each other for the benefit of last gasp capitalism.

Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life, and having finished the last book I will ever write, I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. The stuff that sustained Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and gave them the kind of calm deliberate guts we are not seeing today. I am not talking about religion, but the spirit in each of us, that solitary non-material essence, none the less shared by all humans because we are human. When we let our capitalist overlords cast everything in a purely material light — as material gain or loss for one group or another — we played the oppressor’s game.

Noam Chomsky: Rustbelt Rage


From NOAM CHOMSKY
In These Times

An acute sense of betrayal comes readily to people who believed they had fulfilled their duty to society in a moral compact with business and government.

On Feb. 18, Joe Stack, a 53-year-old computer engineer, crashed his small plane into a building in Austin, Texas, hitting an IRS office, committing suicide, killing one other person and injuring others.

Stack left an anti-government manifesto explaining his actions. The story begins when he was a teenager living on a pittance in Harrisburg, Pa., near the heart of what was once a great industrial center.

His neighbor, in her ’80s and surviving on cat food, was the “widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement.

“Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was Social Security to live on.”

He could have added that the super-rich and their political allies continue to try to take away Social Security, too.

Stack decided that he couldn’t trust big business and would strike out on his own, only to discover that he also couldn’t trust a government that cared nothing about people like him but only about the rich and privileged; or a legal system in which “there are two `interpretations’ for every law, one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us.”

The government leaves us with “the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies (that) are murdering tens of thousands of people a year,” with care rationed largely by wealth, not need.

A gusher of disaster


From DMITRY ORLOV
Club Orlov (Excerpted)

An American Chernobyl

[This is not a “spill.” The correct term, that has always been used to describe, with glee, the success of an oil find when it blows out is “gusher.” Simple as this: If the ocean dies, we die. This is the end of the petroleum age as we’ve known it. -DS]

The Chernobyl disaster was caused more or less directly by political appointeesm: the people in charge of the reactor control room had no background in nuclear reactor operations or nuclear chemistry, having got their jobs through the Communist Party. They attempted a dangerous experiment, executed it incompetently, and the result was an explosion and a meltdown. The Deepwater Horizon disaster will perhaps be found to have similar causes. BP, the owner of Deepwater Horizon, is chaired by one Carl-Henric Svanberg—a man with no experience in the oil industry. The people who serve on the boards of directors of large companies tend to see management as a sort of free-floating skill, unrelated to any specific field or industry, rather similarly to how the Soviet Communist party thought of and tried to use the talents of its cadres. Allegations are already circulating that BP drilled to a depth of 25000 feet while being licensed to drill up to 18000 feet, that safety reviews of technical documents had been bypassed, and that key pieces of safety equipment were not installed in order to contain costs. It will be interesting to see whether the Deepwater Horizon disaster, like the Chernobyl disaster before it, turns out to be the direct result of management decisions made by technical incompetents…

The political challenges, in both cases, centered on the inability of the political establishment to acquiesce to the fact that a key source of energy (nuclear power or deep-water oil) relied on technology that was unsafe and prone to catastrophic failure. The Chernobyl disaster caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the nuclear industry and foreclosed any further developments in this area. The Deepwater Horizon disaster is likely to do the same for the oil industry, curtailing any possible expansion of drilling in deep water, where much of the remaining oil is to be found,