Random Thoughts, Monday July 25, 2011

  • It is ridiculous to me that people continue to spew a mantra from the 1800s:  “don’t tax the rich cause they create the jobs.”  That’s nonsense in the 21st century.  125 years ago, it may have been true, as this nation was an industrial economy, where the rich had the capital to hire the means of production (workers).  Now days, the rich move bytes around, and game politics to their advantage; they don’t create many jobs.   Witness nearly 20% real unemployment at a time of record corporate and individual incomes.

Instead, it is “consumers” who actually create jobs – you know, me and you. Assuming the recent past could or should continue, then if our economy is to “recover” and create jobs at all, money must flow from the hands of the hoarders to those with the means to actually do something with it to create jobs: spend. THIS is the “answer” to getting our economy “back on track.”  Plain ole wealth redistribution.

Yet I don’t think we will be able to recreate the kind of economy we were used to given energy and ecological constraints.  So instead of trying to jumpstart the dead past, we should use the money to build the foundations of our future economy:  renewable energy, environmental remediation, and localization.

We live in a new era. Simply spouting mindless platitudes from a time that no longer exists isn’t good enough anymore.

  • I’m disheartened by people I like and respect who acknowledge that “coal will be with us for the long haul.”  Specifically, this is in reference to an article by James Fallows called “Dirty Coal, Clean Future” that appeared in the Atlantic magazine in the fall of 2010.  The premise of the argument is that we’ve got coal, we’re mining it already, and we’re going to continue to do so into the foreseeable future.   Yeah, coal is bad, and the consequences of continued burning of it are dire, but maybe we can make it cleaner.  Regardless, to meet the world’s energy needs, we’re going to keep burning it.

I just can’t take this logic.  We are poisoning our home and its inhabitants simply because the world has “energy needs.”  What good on earth could meeting those “needs” create, relative to the danger caused by meeting them?  We must say no.  We must have a plan for quitting coal before the damage is irreversible.

So when people talk about the inevitability of coal in order to appear a realist, we must remember what Grist’s David Roberts says:  this “talk offers aid and comfort to an establishment that’s doing virtually nothing to rein in dirty coal or support clean alternatives. “ It is simply reassuring Big Coal of its place at the head of the pack. It is NOT a meaningful discussion of the reality of our situation.

  • You’re getting ready to hear more about “makers and takers.” This is growing as the standard conservative slogan about how the makers need more individual “freedom” to do what it is that they do, cause there are so many takers along for the ride. This nonsense is nothing more than an attempt to gain more power by the strong over the weak.  As Teddy Roosevelt said 100 years ago, “A riot for individualistic freedom for the individual… turned out in practice to mean perfect freedom for the strong to wrong the weak.”  Beware patriots who profess undying allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, but who conveniently forget the overriding clause in the Declaration of Independence that got it all started:  all men are created equal.  And it is indeed government’s role to ensure that they are treated as such – nothing else will.
  •  To all government haters out there:  what exactly are you willing to do without?  Everything?  Some things but not others?  Quality of life, but not defense?  Food for the poor, but not air traffic control?  What would you be willing to do without?  And how much money would that save?
  •  I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of our communities.  I’ve been toying with the thought that the best model for our future might be towns that prospered in the year 1900.  That year had about as much per capita energy use as we are going to see in the near future. That year over 50% of all Americans were farmers.   The majority of the rest worked at producing things.  Those towns offer a glimpse of our future.
  •  Our favorite columnist from the Lane Report – Pat Freibert – has done it again.  In the lead column of the June issue, she lays out a case for destroying the earth:  “Failure to use our God-given natural resources to benefit American citizens is not responsible governing.”  This is where our end begins:  ascribing to God the reason of our self-destruction.   It’s God’s will; he wants us to use the things he gave us, even if they destroy His creation.  How can one argue against God in this society?

In conclusion, she says that to stabilize the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we would have to cut our emissions by 96% – to be more like that of Kenya. (Interesting reference to Kenya, given that’s where our president was born, but I digress.) She asks, “Are Americans prepared to give up current standards of living that support our modern society to live like a third-world country?”

WHAT COUNTRY IS SHE LIVING IN?  We already are a third-world country, and it is increasing  every day.  By what measures?  The income disparity between the richest and everyone else.  The health epidemic.  The education standards. The fact that 50% of all kids will be on food stamps at some point in their childhood.  The squalor and ugliness of much of our communities. I could go on.

So to sum up:  God wants us to use what he gave us, regardless of how it destroys the planet, and anyway, we’re not going to live like those people in Kenya regardless. Or at least she’s not.

One other tidbit:  In the same issue I came across a phrase I’m hearing more and more:  “The EPA’s war against energy.”  Does anyone with any sense really think that is what is happening?  I prefer to think of it as the EPA’s war against pollution.  But then again, I love my family more than I love money.

  • Republicans bitch and wail about Obama’s regulations that are somehow killing business.  Yet according to FORBES, it was the Republicans who actually are responsible.  Between 2001 and 2008 (W. years, natch) the cost per employee to comply with federal regulations grew at a 6.1% clip for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, while inflation rose at 2.8%.
  • One last thing:  Sustainability isn’t a choice.  Sustainability means living well in a low energy world, adapted to a changing climate, and putting community above individual.  These are not values. These are the realities that we are faced with.




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2 responses to “Random Thoughts, Monday July 25, 2011

  1. Danny

    Somebody woke up with a fire this morning.
    Too many interesting points to talk back to all of them.

    I noticed the Eblen article and wasn’t too surprised. I think part of the problem is the very idea of being a progressive. Thought it’s got a fairly long (for America) political history, the term pretty much seems to have been used this past decade as a way to re-brand Democratic party liberalism after the thrashing of John Kerry in 2004. Liberal academics concerned with infinite academic production within their field became re-born as crusading “progressives”; The Nation magazine became a champion once-again of “progressive” causes (as it went back on its pledge to not support a pro-war presidential candidate in 2008); liberal politicians and their ground-troops started touting progressive causes; etc. The progressive Tom Eblen, for all his anti-coal stances (and he is certainly against the destruction of Eastern Kentucky and other places King Coal has been destroying), is still a pro-growth business writer. He wrote for the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s business section, after all, and he still sorta does that here in Lexington. While the tack has been to out people as ‘not-progressive’ for taking market stances like Eblen, I think it’s more a symptom of the reflexive, liberal, stance of growing world economies as the chief means to achieve world harmony and democracy that is at the heart of the current progressive movement. Hell, I bet even Friedman’s a progressive now.

    Your site has also got me thinking of what our future towns might look like. I too think, if humans have any hope going into the future, farming will need to become an everyday part of a lot more of our lives, as it was before we substituted fossil energy for human energy. I think we’ll look more like Havana in our cities, with suburban growth areas becoming less denigrated (by progressives!, no less) and instead operating as mini-farms–sub-urban rather than suburban. This will mean, practically I think, that most of us with suburban land or backyard plots will become gentleman farmers (or gentlewoman farmers), providing bridge food for our homes or neighborhoods while leaving things like grain production and other space-eating agriculture to real farmers. God let’s hope that it’s not the vision of privatized algae production put forth by our homegrown animal monsanto corporation that puts out shitty beer, sleazeball Alltech industries.

    • Ha – I’ve been too complacent for a while….had to gather up my forces
      Yes….our cities will look at LOT more like farms in the coming years…..actually our whole way of life will shift from consumption to production – we will all be producers again, as humans always were

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