Monday, June 25, 2007

Oil and Wealth

I just finished watching this program on PBS in MN:

Extreme Oil
13 KTCI: Monday, June 25 7:00 PM
Public affairs

The Wilderness
Lobbyists debate the extraction of oil in Alaska; extraction site in Canada.

We have lived on this planet for thousands of years before oil. We CAN live without it. Won't get RICH, but you can LIVE if there is food.

Thinking about the Inuit, what is rich to them? A good hunt and happy people is being rich. We just have to redefine wealth and richness to mean a whole lot more than just money.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Checking in

There's a lull going right now and yet there is movement far out at sea, so to speak. The news and blogs are pretty much in a holding pattern continuing to regurgitate each instance of the evils of empire waiting for something new to blare about.

Myself, I'm in a holding pattern too, but for a different reason. I am concentrating on my garden and trying to collect the energies of my life into sufficient coherence to put it to some useful purpose for my and my family's future survival.

The reason for going into hunker-down mode is the build up to nuking Iran. Most people, even some fairly smart folks, will poo-poo any notion of nukes getting brought out of moth-ball, dusted off, and actually getting used. Small tactical or bunker buster types, the kind that don't create huge mushrooms to set off alarms, but radioactive all the same. Once that news hits the other powers-that-be, I think there will be some very nasty times ahead for America. I have no clue what the fallout (pun intended) will be, only that it will be bad for America. I'm hoping I live far enough away from anything important so that the ground here won't get tainted (much) so I can keep growing a garden and stay reasonably fed.

As for the rest, especially on the political activism front, the folks around here are too much Peyton Place types for me to care much about them if they can't be bothered to participate in a real democracy. No one has any ideas except to harp and whine and have a bitch fest about Bush. But God forbid they should do anything local. They just won't talk about who should run for city or county office and have a tendency to run screaming from the room whenever I bring it up. Feh. No wonder the system is broken. The locals are AWOL.

That's all for now.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

June 14, 2007
Progressive Ponderings
Earnings - Wages, Salaries, Perks
By J. Mayer

"You ought to be able to keep what you 'earn,'" is a frequent cliché
of right-wing tax protestors including the current "decider." It's
appealing. It's persuasive. It's deceiving!
It's deceiving in its false assumptions. It assumes that all wages
and salaries are actually "earned." It assumes that our "value
system" is legitimate. It assumes that the "market economy" and
"capitalism" distribute income on a just and moral basis. It assumes
that the "market" is neutral regarding sex, race, citizenship, etc.
with no prejudices built in.

The "earnings" discrepancy of major corporate CEOs versus the average
employee continues to grow. A half century ago in the United States
the CEO usually "out-earned" the average worker about 40 to 1. Today
that number reaches 400, even 500, to 1. It's interesting that the
"market," which corrects all things, allows European and Japanese CEOs
to cling closer to the older 40 to 1 ratio.

Wage discrepancies expose our "value system." It is not uncommon for
a collegiate coach in a major sport (football and basketball) to
"out-earn" the University president 5 to 10 times. Entertainers,
athletes, musicians, actors and actresses frequently "earn" within a
year, month, or even a week more than many in the general population
"earn" in a lifetime. Our "value system" is questioned when a new
graduate moves into the "market economy" and immediately "earns" more
than those who educated him or her. Again, our values are exposed
when those "dealing" -figuratively and literally - in the financial
markets (sales, investments, mergers, buy-outs, etc.) "earn" many
times more than those doing such mundane things as making real, useful

The assumption that the "market economy" distributes income on a just
and moral basis is exposed as myth when we examine wage discrimination
built into the system. Last week wage discrimination against women
was cemented into law by the U.S. Supreme Court as it ruled in favor
of a discriminating corporate employer. Wage discrepancy based on
race, gender, and color is well documented. "Earned" income varies
widely in favor of "private" employees" versus "public" employees who
are deemed inefficient, superfluous leaches on society being paid out
of evil taxes. The value of our "uniformed-armed-force" personnel is
only a fraction of "contracted-military-labor" in Iraq and elsewhere.
"Immigrant" versus citizen labor provides another opportunity for the
"market economy" to exploit with impunity.

"Earnings" in a "market economy" is the instrument we use to evaluate
humans. Worth is determined by the value one contributes to profits.
Moral principles such as the "golden rule" surrender to market
"principles." Even the concept of justice is denied. "For the good
of the economy," "for the good of the markets," "growth," "freedom"
(for some) are the dominate principles in validating human worth.

Fear, hatred, crime, imprisonment, war – should we be surprised when
these dominate political discourse? What else can we expect when
selfishness and greed become our sacred cows and other principles are
relegated to rhetorical bombast? It's time to pursue the universal
principles of respect, dignity, equality, and justice, for we all
belong to One Family in which each person is influenced by the actions
of others, and when all are in harmony the One Family benefits.

J Mayer

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Twilight of the '60s

While I was watching "My Music: The British Beat" on PBS here in MN tonight, I wasn't really paying much attention until the camera was on a guy playing violin who looked rather bored. The song was Gerry Marsden's "Ferry Cross the Mersey." He's a younger guy and didn't experience anything of the 1960s music explosion.

While the song itself doesn't do much for me, as the camera panned the audience it seem rather strange/interesting to see gray haired people waving their arms to and fro in unison in rhythm. A few years ago I had officially joined the ranks of "old people," the old fogies who get nostalgic about the past on certain occasions. I'm on the tail of that generation, the Boomers. These folks are at least 10 years my senior acting like they did when they were kids.

Anyway, this kid playing the violin within this context of people harkening back to a more creative time looking bored, I wanted to convey something of the magic of that time to him. It was mythic in proportion to anything we have now.

I'm not sure what it's going to take to experience that kind of creativity, and especially the idealism, again, but I fear it will take going through a period of real hardship. But I also wonder if what happened then will ever be repeated. The 1960s was truly a watershed event. It was at the nexus of huge forces (post-depression, post-mass production, post-WWII, mass education, economic parity, and drugs) that I don't think can be repeated, at least not in my lifetime or in many lifetimes to come.

We are still trying to assilimate what happened as the shockwaves are still reverberating, but without having passed it on to the next generation. As with all things, it's energy is waning with they graying of peoples' hair. And the powers-that-be that run things in the world and in America are not going to put up with anything that encroaches on their power such as an educated and active citizenry. It won't be until the perfect storm that is now brewing sweeps away the hoary shell of a once great country that creativity and renewed energy will be released.