From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
All the talk about creating jobs strikes me as another example of how so many of us sneakily drink one way and piously vote another. Oh how we voice our concern, how much we pretend to support more jobs but we go right on conducting real business on the basis of replacing human workers with machines whenever possible. All the ways being proposed to increase jobs right now are the same old methods that do not face the real cause of the dilemma. The awful truth is that we have created an economy that can’t afford people to do the work and so every year there are fewer meaningful jobs and more pretend jobs. Pretend jobs require pretend money. We are capitalizing costs on money interest not on human interest.
No where is this truer than in farming. We boast about how many people one farmer feeds—155 is the latest number I think— as if that kind of efficiency is a sign of progress. I don’t hear a single business person or government official pointing out that if the whole economy of the common good is considered, one farmer feeding 155 people is not a sign of true profitability but of gross and unsustainable inefficiency. So gross in fact that while the 155 are getting fed, others are going hungry.
It is fairly easy, I think, to demonstrate the inefficiency of one person feeding a hundred and fifty five especially when some of the hundred and fifty five are having a hard time earning enough to buy their food.
From WENDELL BERRY
What Are People For?
For many years, my walks have taken me down an old fencerow in a wooded hollow on what was once my grandfather’s farm. A battered galvanized bucket is hanging on a fence post near the head of the hollow, and I never go by it without stopping to look inside. For what is going on in that bucket is the most momentous thing I know, the greatest miracle that I have ever heard of: it is making earth.
The old bucket has hung there through many autumns, and the leaves have fallen around it and some have fallen into it. Rain and snow have fallen into it, and the fallen leaves have held the moisture and so have rotted. Nuts have fallen into it, or been carried into it by squirrels; mice and squirrels have eaten the meat of the nuts and left the shells; they and other animals have left their droppings; insects have flown into the bucket and died and decayed; birds have scratched in it and left their droppings or perhaps a feather or two.
This slow work of growth and death, gravity and decay, which is the chief work of the world, has by now produced in the bottom of the bucket several inches of black humus. I look into that bucket with fascination because I am a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts, and I recognize there an artistry and a farming far superior to mine, or to that of any human. I have seen the same process at work on the tops of boulders in a forest, and it has been at work immemorially over most of the land surface of the world. All creatures die into it, and they live by it.
From BARBARA AYERS
The Contrary Farmer
I hope everyone won’t mind if I contribute my story. I have often wanted to comment on this wonderful, thought provoking site, but felt too shy because I don’t have a farm. My husband works in the entertainment business, hence we live in Pasadena, part of the giant suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, California. I didn’t grow up on a farm either — suburbs, again, outside of Washington, DC. But my maternal grandparents were farmers who emigrated from Romania to Western Canada. I believe the urge to farm must be passed down in one’s genetic code.
I’d always made flower gardens, and I’m a good cook. Somewhere back during the culinary revolution, I came upon a cookbook by Alice Waters, who can’t help but be inspiring. So I planted a pot of basil and parsley on my apartment balcony. Alice was right — picking that super fresh basil whenever I needed it, instead of spending two dollars for it, half wilted from the grocery store, was absolutely life changing. I spent the next fifteen years growing fruits and vegetables wherever they could be squeezed in, and dreaming of life in a more rural setting. Then, one happy day, my young children were accepted by a school that had, among other attractive features, a small organic farm. I spent the summer driving stealthily past the school’s farm property, stalking it, wondering if there would be any space for me to sponsor a project or two. It turned out to be a dusty acre of weeds with a pretty, tiny pond
From JOANNE POYOUROW
My name is Joanne and I am a knitter. (Yep, it’s that serious) For quite some time I have made excuses, telling myself that “knitting was one of those reskilling things” and it was a powerdown craft. But I got to thinking about it seriously this week.
Here, in the middle of urban Los Angeles, knitting is a pretty elitist hobby. It might be a “reskilling type of thing” good for necessary clothing-making somewhere out on a farm where there are plenty of goats and sheep. Or if I took to raising angora rabbits. Because when the serious hiccups in the economy come, when the darker transportation issues of peak oil set in, the boutique yarn stores I patronize today likely won’t be around anymore.
Although every seriously addicted knitter has her enormous stash of yarn, even that won’t last long under such circumstances. Cotton takes too much acreage, and bamboo requires tons of processing before you can make it into yarn. I don’t think my neighbors would tolerate pigmy goats. Newspaper we have in great supply, but it doesn’t make washable clothing. I’ll be out of raw materials. I have no sustainable supply.
Some of the Transition groups around here have been hosting Repurposing Old Clothes workshops. This is where everyone brings in something old from their closet, plus a spare bit of fabric or some trims. They put it all in a big pile. Then people start pulling garments from the pile — probably not the ones they brought with them. The workshop flows best when you invite someone with an eye for design to help put cool things together. Then out come the sewing machines (or the thread-and-needle). In a powerdown future in the middle of a city, I think we’ll have plenty of leftover mass-produced clothing that can be repurposed like this.
From MICHAEL FOLEY
The FDA is on a campaign to ban raw milk sales. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has made it increasingly difficult for people to sell raw milk in the state and recently issued “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares across the state, including one here in Mendocino County (public disclosure: the one my wife, Sara Grusky and I have been supplying).
A task force of agencies, including FDA and CDFA, fronted by a SWAT team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, recently raided the Rawsome food buying club in Venice, California, seizing produce, destroying milk stocks, confiscating cash, and arresting the owners. The charges? Processing and sale of unpasteurized milk to club members, plus storing unwashed eggs at room temperature. Heavy stuff. Meanwhile, federal regulators were walking executives of Cargill, the grain and meat giant, through a “cost-benefit analysis” to see if it was worth while recalling ground turkey after more than 100 people were sickened and one Californian died of salmonella poisoning. (In the end, Cargill voluntarily recalled 36 million pounds of their product. No charges have been filed.) No one has reported illnesses at Rawsome or among the dairy shares targeted.
So what’s a reasonable person to think? The FDA’s food czar, Michael Taylor (poster boy for the revolving door between American’s most hated corporation, Monsanto, and America’s most hated public institution) recently defended his agency’s preoccupation with tiny dairy share operations as a vital part of protecting public health. Those of us who would like our milk fresh, whole and uncooked, defend dairy shares
From KIERA BUTLER
Google says its cloud is way green, but others claim that the internet is a giant, energy-gobbling monster. Whom should you believe?
I don’t know about you, but I really do my part to clutter the internet with crap. I post silly photos of my friends on Facebook by the dozen. I email videos of my little cousins opening Christmas presents to my entire extended family. I tweet my chickens’ baby pictures. And that’s nothing compared to my friend Seth, who saves all his emails, along with every single digital picture he’s ever taken, both on his home server and online. I remember reading somewhere that putting two megabytes of data online is the equivalent of burning a pound of coal. By that calculation, Seth’s 240-gigabyte digital hoard could have powered a 100-watt lightbulb 24/7 since the War of 1812. Which got me wondering: Are digital pack rats like Seth and me guzzling tons of energy with our obsessive archiving?
As it turns out, we really aren’t. Some sleuthing revealed that the original source of the widely reported coal figure I’d read was a 1999 paper by a researcher named Mark Mills. Titled “The Internet Begins With Coal,” it was full of frightening statistics and ominous predictions. The report claimed, for example, that the internet used 8 percent of all the electricity in the United States. The gist was that this newfangled information superhighway could change everyone’s lives for the better, but since it would require so much power, we’d better find enough energy to support it. As it turned out, Mills wrote his report on behalf of the now-defunct Greening Earth Society, a group that, despite its hippie name, was affiliated with Western Fuels Association Inc., a coal-industry trade group notorious for sowing misinformation about climate change. Mills and fellow researcher Peter Huber repeated the argument in a Forbes piece headlined “Dig More Coal—the PCs Are Coming,” which included the outdated claim that traffic on the web was doubling every three months.
Mills’ numbers never held much sway with scientists:
Former U.S. Labor Secretary and University of California at Berkeley professor Robert Reich gave the keynote speech at the “Summit for a Fair Economy” held in Minneapolis on Saturday. He discussed the big lies about the economy and what could be done to make the economy work for everyone.
Paul Krugman 9/11 Blog Post Stokes Controversy
Paul Krugman drew conservative outrage on Sunday when he wrote that the anniversary of 9/11 had become a marker of “shame” for the U.S.
The New York Times columnist wrote a blog post called “The Years of Shame,” in which he said that “what happened after 9/11” was “deeply shameful.” Krugman castigated people like Rudy Giuliani and President Bush as “fake heroes” who exploited the attacks for their own personal, political or military gain. He also said that many in the media had “[lent] their support to the hijacking of the atrocity.”
Krugman concluded, “the memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And, in its heart, the nation knows it.” He said he had turned off the comments on the post “for obvious reasons.”
Conservative commentators quickly seized on Krugman’s post. Blogger Michelle Malkin called him a “smug coward.” Writer Glenn Reynolds called the post “an admission of impotence from a sad and irrelevant little man.” A writer at the Big Journalism site called Krugman “vile.”
However, some progressives defended Krugman. Blogger Glenn Greenwald vociferously backed the post on Twitter.
“Michael Moore & The Dixie Chicks were just as right back then as Krugman is today – but today the taboos (& their enforcers) are much weaker,” he wrote.
And, on Crooks & Liars, Nicole Belle said that Krugman was simply telling the truth. “That day was the impetus for us to attack and invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the attacks
Our Grief Is Not A Cry For War
From REV BILLY
On that impossible day when the skyline of New York City collapsed on its southern tip – I watched from a rooftop across the East River – we entered an unexpectedly peaceful eye of the storm. We all fell toward the terrible scene. We fell through tunnels, over bridges. We were cultural first responders and many of us ricocheted over to a park called Union Square, the site of so much freedom fighting in the history of the United States.
There, thousands gathered in candle-light vigils on the first nights after 9/11, and this quickly evolved the park into a “people’s republic” without police, with an intense series of sing-alongs, rallies, prayer sessions and circles of traumatized but also liberated citizens, having conversations with strangers, passing the “talking stick” from hand to hand. Around us were copy-shop color reproductions of the faces of the missing, with Magic Marker notes by loved ones, “Hurry home Katherine, Bob and Nancy will wait up for you!”
Candles and flowers were everywhere, and mementos of a personal nature were left in little shrines: feathers and diary pages, old record covers from John and Yoko. Artists set up easels and painted images of firemen with angel-wings. Break-dancers took turns. Monologists shouted in the trees. Fire-swallowers. Mimes dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. Professors studied this unfolding “original culture.”
The vortex of expression continued for weeks and weeks. We stood in circles talking about Peace. We passed the talking stick. We felt Peace was among us, as the missing dead, a parallel world of peaceful smiling friends who died that Tuesday, watched us from every surface. Yes Peace is here, we thought. Something we do here will forgive everyone. A large act of forgiveness is possible – the habit of war can be changed. The bombs haven’t dropped yet.
In the ten years since then, the official violence has been grotesque. Our taxes kill children, with old dead “freedom” rhetoric spoken over the bodies by politicians. At home here in New York City, the 1st Amendment protections that made the Union Square moment possible are strictly hunted down. We have gone to jail for the simple act of shouting or singing in public. Peace – we are told – cannot come from anything but brute force. This infantilizes the citizenry – into consumers only, victims momentarily safe in a culture of fear, in a culture of apocalyptic blockbusters and Tea Party crazies…
This is a very dark time. We can only love and work in a parallel world, in local cultures that we can touch and make sense of. We must carefully select when and how to stand up to an energy company, for instance, that walks into town with bank money and drilling equipment. We do have power from that Union Square world we created.
From DARWIN BOND-GRAHAM TheAVA
Mendocino County has a plan for how it will power its communities and economy far into the future. It’s written into several chapters of the county’s newly updated General Plan. Unfortunately it’s mostly planning by means of inertia: patterns of the present weigh heavily upon the future, as it’s imagined. The General Plan’s recommendations for energy development policies and initiatives are rife with qualifications like “should,” “consider,” “promote,” and “encourage,” all of which are synonyms in government for “do little to nothing.”
The Supervisors, at least those who were on the board in 2007 when the General Plan was last updated, and staff in the Planning Department, seem mostly satisfied with the status quo. As I outlined in my last AVA piece on energy, the status quo is unsustainable and undesirable. Mendocino County communities import nearly all their electricity and gas through PG&E, and rely on increasingly expensive gasoline and diesel to fuel transportation. PG&E purchases or generates electricity primarily from large-scale gas-fired and nuclear power plants, or the hydroelectric dams that have done so much to kill off fish populations and damage watershed ecosystems. PG&E is also fast becoming an importer of “fracked” natural gas. And oil is only going to become more expensive. Mendocino has very few energy sector jobs, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being extracted from the county each year to pay PG&E bills and fill up fuel tanks.
While Sacramento is moving to implement laws, regulations, tax credits, and infrastructure programs that will dramatically reshape how energy is produced and used in in the state, it’s up to Mendocino County to determine the specific course of its future. It’s largely up to local communities, cities, and counties to take advantage of these new laws and programs that can, if seized upon, create good local jobs producing clean energy.
To give them credit, staff in the County’s Planning office seem to understand that trouble lies ahead. The General Plan’s introduction contains acknowledgements that, “the county’s widely separated cities and towns make it necessary for many residents to travel long distances to work, shop and recreate. Fuel costs are therefore a major concern
Mr. and Mrs. Magician and their son Mischief by Todd
From TODD WALTON
“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln
Our maternal grandfather Casey died when he was eighty. He was institutionalized for a year prior to his death because his worsening dementia made him too unpredictable and uncontrollable for our diminutive and frail grandmother to handle. I visited Casey several times in that sad institution where he spent his last days, and though my parents always prefaced my visits to him by saying, “Casey just spouts gibberish now,” I invariably found him cogent and funny in a rambling sort of way.
At the tail end of my last visit to Casey, about a week before he contracted a virulent flu and died, he said two things that have stuck with me for thirty years. We were sitting side-by-side on a concrete patio in a little pool of sunlight when Casey arched his eyebrow (he reminded me of Groucho Marx in appearance and voice) and said, “You know, this is a very exclusive university. It’s extremely difficult to get in here. But eventually, everyone does.”
We laughed about that and then Casey said, “Listen. When you find yourself with the bad people, get away from them and go to the good people.”
“Nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, ‘You can’t keep a good man down.’ Most human societies have been beautifully organized to keep good men down.” John W. Gardner
So what makes someone good or bad? Or are good and bad essentially useless terms, since one nation’s mass murderer is another nation’s hero, and the town harlot turns out to be a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and that usurious money lender is the beloved grandfather of a girl to whom he gave a pony? I took Casey’s advice to mean: if I find myself entangled in unhealthy relationships, I should, as swiftly as possible, get out of those relationships and seek healthier ones. But maybe that’s not what Casey meant. Maybe he meant there really are bad people, and they should be escaped from and avoided; and there really are good people, and they should be found and hung out with. Or maybe he was just speaking gibberish.
“I’ve never met a racist yet who thought he was a racist. Or an anti-Semite who thought they were anti-Semitic.”
From SARAH VAN GELDER and DOUG PIBEL
Corbyn Hightower was doing everything right. She worked long hours selling natural skin care products, flying between cities to meet customers, staying in posh hotels. She pulled down a salary that provided her family of five with a comfortable home in a planned community, a Honda SUV, health insurance, and regular shopping trips for the best natural foods, clothes, shoes, and toys.
Then the recession hit. Her commissions dried up, and the layoff soon followed. Life for Hightower, her stay-at-home husband, and three children changed quickly.
First the family moved to a low-rent house down the street from a homeless shelter. They dropped cable TV, Wi-Fi, gym membership, and most of the shopping. Giving up health insurance was the most difficult step — it seemed to Hightower that she was failing to provide for her young daughters. Giving up the car was nearly as difficult.
As our economy goes through tectonic shifts, this sort of adaptation is becoming the new normal. Security for our families will increasingly depend on rebuilding our local and regional economies and on our own adaptability and skills at working together. At the same time, we need government to work on behalf of struggling families and to make the investments that create jobs now and opportunities for coming generations. That will require popular movements of ordinary people, willing to push back against powerful moneyed interests.
Where are the jobs?
How did we get to an economy in which millions are struggling?
Officially, the “Great Recession” ended in the second quarter of 2009. For some people, the recovery is well under way. Corporate profits are at or above pre-recession levels, and the CEOs of the 200 biggest corporations averaged over $10 million in compensation in 2010 — a 23 percent increase over 2009.
But for most Americans, there’s no recovery, and some are confronting homelessness and hunger.
From VIRGINIA GRAZIANI
The Redwood Times
Thanks to Doug Mosel
For the past five years, a small group of Humboldt County farmers has been working to revive local grain production, researching and experimenting with different varieties to find out what was grown historically and what works best in local conditions.
Kevin Cunningham of Shakefork Farms in Carlotta, Dan Primerano of Redway and John LaBoyteaux of Camp Grant Ranch near Weott, while not yet rivaling the grain production of the Midwest, Northwest and California’s Central Valley, have produced enough grain to sell at farmers markets and to local bakers and natural food stores.
LaBoyteaux, now retired from raising fruits and vegetables for farmers markets, spent his “free time” this season growing four varieties of wheat. Although he planted only a little more than four acres, all the varieties did well, with better-than-expected yields.
This year LaBoyteaux focused on “hard red” wheats, the type best suited for making bread. In past years he tried smaller amounts of several varieties of “soft white” wheat, which is preferred for pastry.
To a novice looking at the wheat, it seems almost impossible to tell “hard red” from “soft white,” but the hard grain is harder to grind than the soft grain, and red grains do have a reddish tint compared to the lighter, brown-toned color of white wheat.
LaBoyteaux’s star performer this year is ‘Kelse,’ a spring wheat from the Skagit Valley of northwest Washington. Because it was developed for a wet climate, it did particularly well in this year’s long, wet spring.
Two acres of Kelse at Camp Grant yielded 5,000 pounds of grain. LaBoyteaux believes this may be the best yield anyone has had locally, with the previous high yield estimated at 1,700 pounds per acre.
Besides Kelse, LaBoyteaux planted an acre each of two winter wheats, ‘Expresso’ from the Sacramento Valley and ‘Red Fife,’ an heirloom wheat generally grown in the Dakotas and Canada.
Although winter wheats are typically planted in the late fall or early winter, so that they can take advantage of winter precipitation in dry climates, these varieties can be planted later in Humboldt County, where rainfall
From DON SANDERSON
This Old House is a quite popular television program and magazine. Back in the old days when we had television, I used to enjoy watching. Our present home is a rental, but one with which we have free rein to redecorate the inside and landscape the outside in my usual wild permaculture way. If something needs fixed, such as the new furnace/air conditioner we just got, and not a cheapee, the owner takes care of it. And, he eats the depreciation housing is now undergoing. We’ve owned homes before, but the overhead was always a problem. Give me a rental every time, assuming I can find a landlord such as the present one. This has been our home for a decade and we fully expect it to be for the foreseeable future. Wait, I really intended to talk about cars.
We have a ’92 Crown Vic that we purchased a dozen years ago. It has six cylinders and burns between 22 and 25 miles per gallon, so Obama didn’t want it. I don’t have any idea how fast it will go, but I’ve held it for many miles above 110 on 5 between the Bay Area and LA. It is wonderful to drive, steady as a rock, like a cop car but with a smaller motor. The speedometer claims it has gone 215,000 miles, so it surely must be getting ready for the garbage dump?
Recently, we noticed that the coolant was dropping rather faster than we liked, so we took it to our favorite local mechanic. Whoa, he said, under pressure there is water spurting out at one point in your head gasket. There was no water in the oil, so the spurt was only to the outside, a real win. The mechanic said it can’t be safely driven, because the gasket could completely fail at any moment. We can remove the head, he to us, replace the gasket, and repair any valve problems in the process for about $2,500, but the car is so old that this surely isn’t worth it? We thought only moments and told him to go for it.
Over the past few years, we’ve replaced the rear end and axles, rebuilt the transmission, installed new steering rods, replaced the front seat with bucket seats I helped remove from a ex-cop car, installed a new ignition system and muffler, and other odds and ends. Recently, I had the brakes repaired and purchased new tires. Since we drive very little, just to Ukiah and back mostly with very occasional trips to Healdsburg, Laytonville, and Santa Rosa, I’d guess these repairs have been performed in the last 50,000 miles, mostly much less. So, how old is this car really?
The entire cost of all these repairs and the regular oil changes
From JIM HOULE
Our nation-wide shock on September 11th, 2001 at seeing those two airliners penetrate the World Trade Center towers generated a sense of fear and vulnerability deep within our psyches. Seizing upon this, our national leaders convinced us that we must attack Afghanistan and Iraq, where those Al Qaeda terrorists allegedly came from. The majority of Americans still feel vulnerable to terrorist attack and have accepted that we must live in a era of endless war without any coherent rationale. Ten years later, these unending Pentagon battles abroad have become, in the words of the Washington Post’s Sept. 5th editorial, our only growth industry. In a declining job market, they represent one of our very few successful jobs programs, employing everyone from GIs to weapons assemblers, from drone makers to private “security” firms protecting our occupiers abroad and taking on tasks our soldiers cannot do. No politician, including Barack Obama, will seriously challenge our huge military-industrial complex, nor question the Pentagon’s brilliant propaganda machine that manufactures those new “enemies” we continually must find to justify our ever expanding war program with its enormous profits. Imagine how the Los Angeles Basin would collapse overnight into Depression should the war machine stop ordering new weapons from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.
Now, ten years after September 11th 2001, when 2606 innocent office workers were deliberately murdered, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth believes it is time to seriously examine how these people actually died and if their deaths were really necessary. Why now do the A&E 9/11 Truth people bring this up, after much of the evidence of that day’s disaster has been destroyed or well hidden, and when Americans are fully burdened by their need for economic survival? It seems to many that the very shaky story of the 9/11 attack by foreign terrorists upon our Homeland was too quickly accepted by a public driven by fear and is still used as the rationale for our abject surrender to the war machine that drives our entire economy. We have since learned that none of the 19 alleged hijackers were Iraqis or Afghanis, but we invaded those countries anyway. The 19 alleged hijackers actually included 15 Saudi Arabian citizens, 2 from the Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon.
[Speech transcript below]
As we see time and again, the inaccurate story that Fox News and conservative blogs kick off, other outlets eventually pick up more or less whole cloth. And so it is that the comments in which Teamsters President James (or Jim, but not Jimmy) Hoffa urged listeners to vote have been edited to sound like a call to violence. Media Matters reminds us of the immediate context of the quotes that have been repeatedly taken out of context:
President Obama this is your army. We are ready to march. And president Obama we want one thing: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That’s what we’re going to tell him. He’s going to be—and when he sees what we’re doing here he will be inspired. But he needs help and you know what? Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!
But the extremely and misleadingly shortened version Fox used is the one that’s making the rounds, in a host of publications that aren’t necessarily trying to do Fox’s partisan work for it, but may just be too damn lazy to get the story right, or too addicted to controversy to want to do so. Falling into the latter category is Politico, which in a story that notes that the “Teamsters slammed conservative […] media for supposedly editing Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that Hoffa was inciting violence against members of Tea Party organiations (sic),” totally edits Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that he was inciting violence.
In fact, the longest segment of Hoffa’s original speech quoted in the article is seven words: “take these son-of-a-bitches out.”
From JOHN ROBB Global Gorillas
Hollow, bankrupt states and crisis of capitalism is not a “dystopian future” if it is actually happening now. With almost hourly updates.
I coined the term, “hollow state” back in 2007. The idea derived from what I was seeing develop due to open source warfare and primary loyalties. Here’s a run down on what it means:
The modern nation-state is in a secular decline, made inevitable by the rise of a global market system. Even developed nations, like the US, are not immune to this process. The decline is at first gradual and then accelerates until it reaches a final end-point: a hollow state. The hollow state has the trappings of a modern nation-state (“leaders”, membership in international organizations, regulations, laws, and a bureaucracy) but it lacks any of the legitimacy, services, and control of its historical counter-part. It is merely a shell that has some influence over the spoils of the economy. The real power rests in the hands of corporations and criminal/guerrilla groups that vie with each other for control of sectors of wealth production. For the individual living within this state, life goes on, but it is debased in a myriad of ways. The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis.
This early analysis was right on. Four years on from the above and we’re seeing a rapid “hollowing out” of the developed nation-states. So much so that nearly every nation in the developed world is in a debt crisis, cutting services, and losing legitimacy.
The other idea I’m currently working on is: “a crisis of capitalism.” It may also take 3-4 years for people to really get that it is real.
The idea is simple. That capitalism, as it works today
From ANDREW SULLIVAN The Daily Beast
Here’s a brutal but persuasive piece on why unemployment is likely to stay where it is possibly for the rest of our lives. If you think of American innovation, you often think of Apple, an astonishingly innovative, brilliant industrial high-tech company. The iPhone has been a massive success – but has created jobs mainly … in China. Apple could manufacture the iPhone in America, but its profit margin would drop from 64 percent to 50 percent. And Apple isn’t alone, of course. Which is why China’s high-tech exports to the US keep growing in number and value. Most of those high-tech products are designed and developed by US companies.
Or take the Kindle. Here’s another grim piece:
Amazon’s Kindle 2 couldn’t be made in the U.S., even if Amazon wanted to:
– The flex circuit connectors are made in China because the US supplier base migrated to Asia. – The electrophoretic display is made in Taiwan because the expertise developed from producting flat-panel LCDs migrated to Asia with semiconductor manufacturing. – The highly polished injection-molded case is made in China because the U.S. supplier base eroded as the manufacture of toys, consumer electronics and computers migrated to China. – The wireless card is made in South Korea because that country became a center for making mobile phone components and handsets. – The controller board is made in China because U.S. companies long ago transferred manufacture of printed circuit boards to Asia. – The Lithium polymer battery is made in China because battery development and manufacturing migrated to China along with the development and manufacture of consumer electronics and notebook computers.
As China and India develop even faster, I see no way American skilled workers can truly compete without CEOs hurting their own shareholders.
From PAUL KRUGMAN
Jon Huntsman Jr, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the Republican party in the United States, namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party”. This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.
Mr Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissingevolution as “just a theory“, one that has “got some gaps in it”, an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got people’s attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
That’s a remarkable statement – or maybe the right adjective is “vile”.
The second part of Mr Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming – which includes 97% to 98% of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences – is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.
In fact, if you follow climate science at all, you know that the main development over the past few years
From DAVE SMITH
To the Editors:
Our only hope is long-term hope, and our only real power in dealing with peak oil, climate change, and financial chaos is locally within our communities.
Having said that, I’m a registered Independent because I cannot stand either major political party. I can’t stand the Republican Party leadership for their stupid, greedy, corrupt, libertarian selfishness who don’t give a hoot about their constituents and spend all their time and energy trying to defeat their opponents and kill democratic governance. I can’t stand many of the Democratic Party rank-and-file for their stupid, mumbling, head-shaking, back-stabbing disloyalty to the President they worked for and elected.
President Obama plays by the rules with the hand he was dealt. As one of my favorite bloggers wrote: “He’s not Moses, he’s the President. He presides. He doesn’t rule. We gave him an awful job, and he’s doing it with dignity, sobriety, intelligence, and a variety of other personal and administrative virtues that were absent or compromised in the prior two administrations… while running a country that risks devolving into misery and chaos… in a system rigged against him.”
What is wrong with you people? Obama hurt your feelings? Poor babies. If nothing else, don’t you understand what will happen if the dark side rides again and appoints a couple more corporate Supreme Court judges who, illegally and unconstitutionally, rule us as Kings? We will be a lost nation for generations to come.
Get real, Democrats! Even though he’s not the second coming of Jesus Christ, I’ll be supporting and voting for Obama in the next election, and if you sit this one out you will have betrayed us all.
See also So ya think Obama’s not doing his job? Think again…
From MIKE LOFGREN
Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”
Fred MacMurray: “Yeah – only you’re a little more rotten.” -“Double Indemnity” (1944)
Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party
From ANNELI RUFUS
Wake up and smell the McCafé: Cold cereal, donuts and orange juice are breakfast staples because somebody somewhere wanted money.
Seeking to provide sanitarium patients with meatless anti-aphrodisiac breakfasts in 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. Hence Corn Flakes. Hence Rice Krispies. Hence a rift between Kellogg and his business partner/brother, who wanted to sweeten Kellogg’s cereals in hopes of selling more. Guess who won.
In pre-Corn Flakes America, breakfast wasn’t cold or sweet. It was hot, hearty and lardy, and it had about 4,000 calories.
“Breakfast was the biggest meal of the day. Eaten before you headed out to do a whole day of farm chores, it had to keep you going until dinner,” says food historian Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009). Pre-industrial Americans loaded up on protein-rich eggs, sausages, ham and American-style belly-fat bacon along with ancient carb classics: mush, pancakes, bread.
From RALPH NADER
The commemorative ceremonies that are planned for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre are those of pathos for the victims and their families, of praise for both the pursuit of the supporters of the attackers and the performance of first responders and our soldiers abroad.
Flags and martial music will punctuate the combined atmosphere of sorrow and aggressive defiance to those terrorists who would threaten us. These events will be moments of respectful silence and some expressions of rage and ferocity.
But many Americans might also want to pause to recognize — or unlearn — those reactions and overreactions to 9/11 that have harmed our country. How, in this forward-looking manner, can we respect the day of 9/11?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Do not exaggerate our adversaries’ strength in order to produce a climate of hysteria that results in repression of civil liberties, embodied in the overwrought USA Patriot Act, and immense long-term damage to our economy. Consider the massive diversion of trillions of dollars from domestic civilian needs because of the huge expansion and misspending in military and security budgets.
In 2003, the Palestinian village of Budrus mounted a 10-month-long nonviolent protest to stop a barrier being built across their olive groves. Did you hear about it? Didn’t think so. Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha asks why we only pay attention to violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict — and not to the nonviolent leaders who may one day bring peace.
From PEAK OIL BLUES
[…] Pragmatic Altruism vs. Violent Mindset
As Stuart Twemlow, M.D. points out, we in the US are exposed to an”endless deluge of unmitigated violence, in the media, on the Internet, and in print, which subtly and gradually helps to shape a defensive “violent mindset” that reflects in the way we treat each other.” In this violent mindset, people attempt to “spend much time trying to win at any cost” and “gauge personal success by economic and material gain.” Despite the overwhelming evidence of the harmful and shaping effects of exposure to violence and its cancerous effects on communities, a “debate” about the impact of violence on the psyche continues. Dr. Twemlow compares the “debate” about these facts as similar to the lengthy antique “debate” about cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
The violent mindset vs. what he calls the “pragmatic altruistic” mindset impacts the collective community consciousness in areas of creativity, thought patterns, ruthlessness, economic prosperity,
From THOM HARTMANN
With yearly revenues of over $9 billion, NIKE has the resources to spread their corporate message far and wide. Do they also have the Constitutionally protected right to distort or misrepresent the truth for commercial gain?
Corporations are not people, and the First Amendment should account for their unique motivation: sales. ~Congressman Dennis Kucinich, writing about the Supreme Court case Kasky v. Nike.
The first direct shot across the bow of the doctrine of a corporation’s “right to lie” by using its “personhood” to claim First Amendment “free speech” rights came in April 1998, when Mark Kasky, a California political activist, noticed that Nike was engaged in what he considered to be a deceptive greenwashing campaign. Kasky had long been a runner and wore Nike shoes, so he was particularly distressed when he saw Nike’s communications director, Lee Weinstein, publish a letter in the San Francisco Examiner in December 1997 that said, in part, “Consider that Nike established the sporting goods industry’s first code of conduct to ensure our workers know and can exercise their rights.”2
This letter was just a small part, it turned out, of a national campaign
1. After the November 2009 elections, the Wake County school board dismantled socio-economic diverse schools and began to implement a neighborhood schools plan that would resegregate schools.
2. Resegregation in schools would be a disaster. It would turn back the clock fifty years with the creation of high poverty, racially isolated schools. The integration plan destroyed by Koch-supported board of education members was used as a model for high achieving, diverse schools throughout the country.
3. This October 2011, Wake Country elections will decide if schools become resegregated. Koch-supported candidates are still pushing for neighborhood schools and to end diversity.
4. The Koch brothers free market, libertarian ideology rests on privatization in society, especially the privatization of education.
5. The Kochs founded Americans for Prosperity in 2004, and AFP indirectly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Wake County school board elections and helped jeopardize the diversity policy.