The Empty Vessel

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Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…

Democracy is an empty vessel. The blanks must be filled in. Want to slow or stop immigration? Do you want low taxes, less regulation and globalize manufacturing and trade? Perhaps more home schooling and charter schools and scrap universities altogether and simply ramp up vocational career schooling.

The stock markets of the world are a huge casino. Headlines are once again frightening the public. Some say buy, some say sell, others say hold. Nobody can explain exactly why the market moves one way or another. Technical analysts give their explanations, brokers offer their services and all the while the stench of something reeks. What are we doing to ourselves?

Technology has ramped up the speed of something while the details of this something it has speeded up remain beyond comprehension to all of us. You want to talk about morality? How about voting rights? Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Does anyone know anything about this secret trade deal that the President strenuously defends as not secret?

I don’t like my oppositional party in politics as being described as an automobile filled with clowns. I don’t like billionaires polluting the electoral process with their ill-gotten gains. But, am I right to hold this view? The Supreme Court has found my opinion to run counter to the rights enshrined in the constitution. We are not in a free for all we are in a free fall.

We have precious little time to act on matters important to every single human being on this planet. We need to get focused. We need banks to get boring. We need government to fix roads, build bridges and enable communities the means to access to clean air and water. We need capitalism to submit to surgery whereby we cut out its mindless greed and install a heart that helps manufacture a simpler more cautious use of our finite resources.

If democracy is an empty vessel, a void waiting to be filled, then capitalism if allowed to dominate it will arrange matters to its own advantage. This arranging thing that it does is not some sort of invisible hand of the marketplace. It is a heavy hand.

Our access to information has drowned the informed voter in a sea of counterfactuals that boggle the mind and shudder our spine. We’ve harvested a collective chaos of misguided gumption. We briefly get it together and send a man to the moon and now we tear ourselves apart debating whether to deploy high speed trains. Nothing is more pathetic than to watch people who have put their faith in science to include everything but vaccinations.

A majority of citizens polled want to disregard the consensus of nuclear experts who virtually unanimously agree that we ought to take the deal we just cooked up with Iran. The rest of the world agrees but we won’t. I can assure you that the vast majority of the people objecting to this deal haven’t taken the time to read it. They didn’t pick up their smartphone and call their local nuclear scientist for a discussion on the merits. Who has time for that crap? In our current democracy opinion is manufactured. Who is making this crap up because it has to stop. Our sewers are there for a reason.

So, let’s get out of this rut now. We defang Wall Street for starters. A transaction tax would be a good place to begin. Break up the big banks and make finance boring again. We go to Washington and kick the criminal racket known as the Washington lobbyists out. We get some ordinary plain normal human beings in congress to focus on climate change and fix this wretched income inequality problem.

Once we get ourselves heading in the right direction we can get together and do some good old family planning and by that I mean we need to figure out how we can live on this planet in balance and harmony within the constraints of her natural bounty.

And that my friends is how to fill this empty vessel known as democracy up with ideas worthy of our free will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Canary Starts Sizzling…

Six Boats

Setting Sail for a Better Future

Let’s head out from here where sanity prevails. First, we have a global manmade climate crisis. Got that? Let’s get our priorities right. Wake up!

Next up is worldwide population levels continuing to expand while we wreak havoc upon the support system all these new lives will need if they are to survive.

Our politics and our economics are complex. This is a two headed monstrosity. One defends the other, while the other goes about plundering the world and taking a modest sum of their profits to keep propping up their enablers.

Like an addict business just can’t help itself. The business of business turns out to be all too often quite rapacious of resources and let’s just say not particularly talented at focusing upon sustainability to say nothing of mankind’s survival.

And then there is Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a Democrat running for office and she can’t take a position on the Keystone Pipeline? That’s not going to get the job done. Does she support the Transpacific Partnership; a trade agreement that affects 40% of the world’s global trade? No, she can’t say one way or another. We are being asked to vote for a riddle inside of a mystery.

There is all of this plus we have Republican Senators plotting in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act which would result in stripping 17 million citizens of their health insurance. This isn’t humanity’s best moment.

Plus, with the world bursting at the seams with people this same grand deliberative body is rushing as fast as their fake bile can be spewed to defund an organization that tries to help all of humanity in general and women in particular to determine if and when they will have a child.

Some low life named Drudge calls the Pope the Antichrist. Some Cuban out of Florida running for higher office claims Obama is covertly funding the same terrorists that the Pentagon is trying to kill. Please…

Here is the situation. We have to deal with climate change. That means doing something about it here. We’ll need to work with every other country in the world because this isn’t just our problem it is the world’s problem too.

Next up is getting control of the world’s most voracious inhabitants… human beings. Where to start? Well, obviously we’ll need to figure out where all these people are coming from and why there are so many individuals, religions and governments blocking efforts to help humanity manage their reproductive systems. What the hell is wrong with you people?

This isn’t a mystery. If we deploy women’s health care programs across the world we will enable billions of earth’s citizens to have the chance to choose the right moment to start a family.

If you object to offering others the chance to choose how they wish to arrange their lives then you might well be confused about what the difference is between freedom and tyranny.

Finally the stupendous wealth that has accumulated in the hands of so few has in turn been used to frustrate efforts to put in place policies that will go a long way toward solving humanity’s problems. It turns out great wealth is in and of itself a great big problem.

Billionaires are not a feature of capitalism they are a flaw and to drain the swamp of excess wealth is to make our world a safer more egalitarian place where we might well survive if only we can clear our minds of the haze and get focused on the challenges we face.

Does this sound radical? Cleaning our air? To help men and women determine when to start a family? To tax our wealthiest citizens more and our poorest citizens less?

Some political party is going to have to clear their throat and speak out and then pass the necessary legislation. Trump and Sanders are merely canaries in the coal mine. They are harbingers sounding the alarm.

Our political, religious and economic systems are in desperate circumstances. They are all in need of change and yet each has exquisitely organized itself to resist change. One way or another, this is going to come to an end. I’d prefer a soft landing or if not perhaps it is time we start manufacturing helmets… and fast.

Five Boat

Let’s Set Humanity’s Course for Survival

Pass the Beer Nuts… Or How I Learned to Love the End

Adventure Gang Six

The Mayan People as Example

Our globalized interconnected world was sold as a cure all for every kind of inefficiency of free enterprise. Free markets were going to spread democracy to every corner of the earth.

Something went wrong. I know it, you know it; we all know that something is wrong. We are simply that much more talented at making a mess of the whole project called civilization.

Everything feels like propaganda. Facts go contested while opinion metastases. Every enterprise has a public relations spokesman. Turkey, China and Iran curtail access to the internet for obvious reasons. Internet providers in so called free countries search our search terms for nefarious advantage.

It was hotter in Anchorage, Alaska than in Phoenix last week. Our attention span on that one fact hasn’t even outlasted this last sentence. Down the memory hole the impending disaster vanishes while enterprise of every kind continues to plunge humanity into the corner we find ourselves.

Still, we get that there are some very big players doing everything in their power to remain in power so they may continue to do everything that their balance sheet compels them to do. Individual conscience is irrelevant.

News outlets go rogue. Owned by huge conglomerates our present day journalist is constrained by ownership to exercise self-survival and restraint in criticizing the hand that feeds them. You want to work in Russia? You dance to that tune. How about China? You sing in concert with the power elite there as well. We are all under threat. All the bases have been covered. You step out of line and you are gone.

What we have is a juggernaut where the wealthy the world over have by every means available foisted the best political stalemate money can buy. Ideology and religion is a sideshow. That is so last century. Money is first, last, and always where power actually resides.

China’s pollution isn’t totalitarian. Climate change isn’t a theory. The latest round of free trade talks has not a word in it designed to save us from ourselves.

The most powerful military force in the world can’t win a war.  We have not won in Viet Nam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine or Israel; each is an intractable problem left unresolved draining us our need to focus on earth’s most urgent problem-global climate change.

With the invention of the shipping container, the standardization of shipping every kind of product across seas was supposed to fix what ailed the world. Prosperity would be shared they promised.

There was plenty of money to be made that ended up in the pockets of the few. That is what is called a global head fake. At the top our elites play a good game of keep away. You think the Cayman Islands are for vacation? Food stamps are for suckers. Unemployment benefits are for slackers. Social security is socialism and national health care is an abomination.

Climate change is not a game. It is a problem that touches every single person in the world. It is about the survival of the human species. Every other issue is subordinated to what we can do to prevent the world going into an irreversible climatic crisis that could trigger the end human life.

We have been conned into transforming our financial system into a worldwide mechanism for amplifying our least moral impulses. We are left scratching our capitalistic heads. The best minds wonder how we can repair the economic and political system before it destroys us all.

WTF is voter suppression about? Somebody please explain why the denial of reproductive health care services for women is a virtue? How about building more nuclear power plants? Why have the police in the United States shot and killed over 400 of us in just the last five months? Who are the sycophants that argue cutting taxes on the wealthiest citizens in the world is the best way to solve every problem we face? Where does this come from?

I speak to not a soul in my daily life that isn’t aware of how off the rails our international system has gone. There are no more winnable wars. There is not a corporation that can be stopped. The climate crisis isn’t coming. It is here.

Can we respond? Can we save ourselves from ourselves? We will know soon enough…

What a Pair.......That is Sunshine with her Partner

What a Pair…….That is Sunshine with her Partner

 Seriously Comedy Requires A Lot of Laughter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left Where it Belongs

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                                      Life is an Adventure

There is wonder in this world. Being with well educated family and friends in Playa del Carmen is one of those wonders.

The people coming up are the replacement parts to those on the other side of the journey. They can see. It is as plain as day. Climate change, environmental destruction, drought, species extinctions, and overpopulation.

Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter… capitalism that’s stuck their generation with student loan debt. A war machine that seems to win all the battles while losing every single war since the end of the last great one.

Fast talking tap dancing radio talk show hosts have been muted. The delete button pressed. Poof… gone…

Here in Mexico two of the pictured above head next to the Blue Hole in Belize to scuba dive the wonder of it all. The two others down to the Mayan ruins in Tulum and Coba. Nobody need tell them. They know. Everything has its time here, does its dance, and then vanishes into the pages of history.

The sneering idiot at Exxon. His royal pain in his CEO’ness… well, isn’t he a piece of work. Claims the reason they don’t invest in renewable energy is that Exxon doesn’t make losing bets. Get it? Renewables are losers.

The International Monetary Fund has come out with a doozy of a report the last few weeks. Estimating how much carbon will need to be left in the ground the future of coal, gas and oil extraction is dim indeed.

And it isn’t like they can stop it. The price of energy stops it. Solar, wind, and battery storage technologies are improving rapidly. By 2025 the game will be up. By 2030 forget about it.

The International Monetary Fund evaluated the worldwide subsidies, tax credits and other incentives carbon fuel industries enjoy and it adds up to nearly 10% of the worlds total output for goods and services per year.

I’m popping popcorn in my solar oven as we speak. I’ve got a front row seat. Once they stop struggling and accept the fact that carbon based energy is so last century we can get on with the work at hand.

I want to thank all the oil companies and coal mining companies for everything they’ve done to help us get to where we are today. Some of what has happened has been all to the good. And I’d like to kick them in the butt for all the oil spills, respiratory disease, death and environmental destruction they have wreaked upon humanity too.

The world is in a huge human made mess. We’ve got no more time to waste. The young ones know it even if the old wants stubbornly resist admitting it. Some of us have no future while the four young adults photographed at the top of this posting want a better one.

This is a generational handoff. You obstructionists and amoral greed is good capitalists just get yourself prepared for wholesome and skillful change.

Welcome to the new world. We’ll have renewable energy dominating the next century. Women’s rights including health care services and free birth control available in every country of the world. We’ll start building schools, water systems, and other vital infrastructure in underdeveloped countries instead of pissing away a fortune on bombs and bullets. And yes all of this will be funded by doing what we had long done in the past… taxing wealth, educating our citizens, and reclaiming our democracy.

We simply can’t afford to play the other game. Our children know that our current neoliberal economic system will kill us all. Now that’s change I can believe in…

Saving the Wine Country

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                  “If Napa Valley can’t be saved, nothing can.”

We our born into this world. Our eyes see in our youth a mother and father in the foreground. Behind our parents nurturing is the land we find ourselves by the miracle of life to be chanced upon.

Here is some piece of knowing something because you are born into it. In all my years I have again and again visited the Napa Valley. And it is not a sudden shock I speak to. It is of something we piece together in blocks of time; our youth, our teens, when we were courting our first wife, or for a reunion of the men we spent high school with, or now when I visit Yountville where a nephew cooks at one of the valleys most exclusive Micheline rated restaurants.

I witness the collective doing. I see what where I am from has become, is becoming. My interest in good red wine is ordinary at best.  The few times I’ve tasted wine that can change me is not empty of value, but to be sure I’ve tasted poems that have clung to my pallet and hung meaning to my life in ways that have outlasted anything I have ever pleasured the taste of.

You see what is happening to the Napa Valley is not a phenomenon. It is happening across the globe. The testimonials of mankind’s impact upon the earth is relentless, it torture’s hope and dream.

Somewhere between my birth and now we have witnessed the end of frontier. There is not another valley over that mountain range to settle. No virgin forest to fall. No river left to dam.

Now there is this slow, odd sense that we have in this moment spread out across the earth and finally occupied her.

We are not wired up to be alarmed by alarm. Only some human beings take the warning signs as a matter to act upon.

Now drought has bitten into the last decade and the financial crisis ought to be factored into the circumstances as well. And until an almost near now the matter of drought and climate change has been more theory than a matter of present moment concern. That does suit us. We are all easily distracted by the fierce urgency of now to be too concerned by problems we identify as long term.

And so we are left to wonder aren’t we? Who will save us from ourselves? Where is our Lincoln of the times? Is there an Einstein that can explain it to us? Some Charlie Chaplin or Elvis? Who is it that could open our minds and change the course of human history? Now I want to be there for that speech. I want tickets to that concert. I want to leave more than a poster on a wall that celebrated a place that by our collective chaotic presence we render uninhabitable. 

The Kilted Salvation

Past as Prelude Mayan Ruins

Past as Prelude
Mayan Ruins

 

It Was Not A Surprise

The Scottish National Party swept this last week’s elections. They built majorities by convincing Labour Party voters to switch allegiances to the Scottish National Party.

I had followed last year’s vote in Scotland to decide whether they would secede from Great Britain. The initiative failed but the Scottish National Party continued to organize.

That vote plunged the Labour Party into their present crisis. Without the Scot’s Labour may never again be capable of building a majority coalition in Parliament. Never is a long time.

Scotland will press for another vote to secede. If there is any hope of keeping the whole of Great Britain together it will be because the Torres cease ramming through Parliament decidedly conservative policies and instead begin compromising with the progressives in Scotland.

The City of London is loath to let go of their dominion over all things economic. The Scot’s apparently are much too socialist. National Health Care, free universities, and public pensions are unaffordable. The City fears they may well be taxed more.

The tensions between the voracious financial sector and the spine stiffened progressives in Scotland are a wicked bit of business. It is but one of many skirmishes taking place across the globe.

SketchGuru_20150509150710

When Will the Greed Stop

Here back in the United States a vote next week in Congress to give the President Trade Promotion Authority will be taken. Multinational corporations advocating for this bill are not complaining about the labor or environmental provisions and that tells you everything you need to know. A more progressive agreement would be met with a multinational megaphoned shriek of grief and moans. A broad coalition against this agreement is fighting back.

In fact the Trade Promotional Authority the President seeks may indeed increase the profits corporations earn from trade. But, think with me for a moment. “ — trade creates winners and losers. Econ 101 says that the winners outnumber the losers in dollar terms, but not necessarily in people terms — if the richest 1 percent of Americans gain $1 billion from a trade agreement and the other 99 percent lose $900 million, then Ricardo’s theory says the country benefited overall. That outcome is perfectly consistent with Econ 101.”

That is the neoliberal economic model’s Achilles heel. On the whole free trade has by design benefitted the wealthiest. We are bombarded with distortions and half-truths by the moneyed interests that have gained by these trade agreements. Too much corporate money is drowning out the national interests. The world cannot keep pumping further profits into the pockets of the few at the cost of shortchanging so many.

There is no such thing as a free market. Nature is not a free market. Markets are a construct of human design. Rules and regulations are put in place to manage them. The City of London and the Wizards of Wall Street would prefer that we allow their designs and formulas to take priority. They have not any greater wisdom or authority than any other individuals or interest groups. They’ve tilted the playing field in their favor for too long. We’ve the worst income inequality in the world, a worldwide financial crisis we continue to suffer from. There are a vast trove of problems neoliberalism has no answers for.

The most serious of these problems we describe as climate change. At its root is the possibility that we trigger an extinction event that ends in wiping us all off the face of this earth. The one elixir to all of this is hope. We must have hope. And if there is to be any hope of our having a better future it will come by our insisting that our political and economic systems offer reality based solutions to the problems we face. The neoliberal economic model of freer trade, lower taxes and less regulation needs to be modified so that we may get on with the great task of saving all of humanity from its own worst enemy. We have done much damage and saving ourselves from ourselves is the kind of complexity and paradox that is all too prone to being gamed.

This is the great work ahead. The courageous and brave people of Scotland may well be the spark ready to point the way. The fierce kilted bagpipers and army of determined brave souls marching on the problems of the world is indeed a hope to be reckoned with.

La Buena Vida Akumal, Mexico The Authors Office

La Buena Vida
Akumal, Mexico
The Authors Office

 

We Don’t Drink the Water, We Take the Water

The Lightness of Neoliberal Being

The Lightness of Neoliberal Being

 

It may well be a mistake to read The Sixth Extinction. I’m susceptible to dour outlooks. Rather prefer a cheery point of view. Once in my Haight-Ashbury days my cosmic optimism came psychedelically amplified.

Replacing countercultural adventurism for this four decade long experiment in neoliberal economics is morphing into a rolling planetary disaster.

Case in point is the Loon Star State of Texas going bat crap crazy. Detention centers in abandoned Walmart Stores? People in Texas if you are going to be deluded do it Texas style and go King Sized.

Last Tuesday’s election Alberta, Canada tosses out their 44 year old rightwing for some newfangled progressive adventure. No wonder Texas is frightened and I’m tickled ‘commi-pink’.

Then, last night David Cameron and the City of London have got Scotland so worked up by their rapacious behavior that they birthed a full-on secessionist impulse among people that were once known for manufacturing fuddy-duddy woolen products and barrel aged booze. Good going boys. The Torres (conservatives) may well rule in Britain, but it may turn out to be a vastly diminished kingdom that they are left to despoil.

California’s drought has got everyone’s attention. With 400 different water boards scattered chaotically across the state the overlapping contradictory allocations of water rights deeded and lawfully recorded has been done in such a byzantine convoluted manner that no one and nobody can make heads or tails of it all. And you got to remember this is over water that did not fall and has not fallen for four years now. It is turning water rights into a theoretical conundrum.

Big multinational conglomerates have descended upon Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. Like lumber barons of the past they plant vines like Douglas Fir- cheek to jowl- while praying for rain and pumping groundwater at homo-ignoramus rates.

Not to be outdone by the states antiquated water board’s the various county supervisors have bent over backwards to embrace the overdevelopment of the wine growing region. You take a deeded absolute right to the water, toss in a multinational corporation, add a bought and paid for county supervisor and out of their mouths pops things like, “this is still a free country” and these businesses have an “absolute right” to the water deeded to them. For Christ’s sake we are talking about the ‘blessed sacrament’ itself. Christianity could learn a thing or two about capitalism and faith.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Big agriculture in Northern California is driving its inhabitants to the nuthouse. You’d think that water from the Russian River was meant for the people that live there. Where in the name of Wall Street did you ever get that idea from?  Huge flows of capital are rushing in sucking every last drop of water on a crop they are exporting to markets overseas. They take the water, ship the crop and pocket the money into an account in the Cayman Islands. This is God’s good work, capitalism at its very best. Tax breaks for everyone!

Who the hell has time to do anything about climate change? I was standing 40 feet above sea level in the heart of the Napa Valley in the hamlet of Rutherford a month back. Forty feet sounds pretty good don’t you think?

For the moment the San Francisco Bay extends north beyond Vallejo and spreads out upon a magnificent wetlands system that comes right up to the edge of Napa. Antarctica is now melting at a rate faster than ever measured. And you know where that water ends up? Oh come on… forty feet of sea level rise? That isn’t even possible is it? Not in our lifetimes.

And that my friend’s is the beauty of the neoliberal economic model. You don’t worry about tomorrow you keep your eye on today. That’s all there is to it. Sometimes we can be so oblivious to the economic benefits of free trade.