Friday, November 21, 2008
Lets start with reality. People use drugs. Always have. Always will.
Whoever controls the drugs, controls a huge amount of cash. At the moment criminal drug cartels aligned with corrupt law enforcement and corrupt intelligence, appointed and elected officials, secret societies (notably Skull & Bones), and corrupt banking, software and finance companies. Huge amounts of drug money gets invested in “legitimate” stocks, and funds secret quasi-governmental operations such as Iran-Contra. Central Intelligence and other secret agencies have actively participated in large scale heroin operations in the Golden Triangle (Air America) during the Vietnam war, in Central American Cocaine (Iran-Contra, Mena Arkansas) and currently in Afghanistan with the huge poppy crop which emerged shortly after the CIA organized Afghanistan Campaign (Operation Enduring Freedom). George Orwell would have recognized the genius of that name.
Less affluent neighborhoods in the United States are plagued with Heroin and Crack Cocaine. The thugs who rise to the top of the illegal street trade are self selected – the more violent and ruthless rise to the top. Instead of sales tax revenue and legitimate trade boosting the local economy there are violent street battles and heavy handed police crackdowns. Or lawlessness and breakdown, leaving the children with no chance of a decent future.
That’s what happens when you declare war on drugs. You send a massive chunk of the economy underground, and contribute to all kinds of corruption. Sure, you might have a lot of people in prison, but is that something to celebrate? It seems that the current policy creates far more problems than it “solves”. In fact it doesn’t “solve” the problem, or even move the situation forward in any way whatsoever.
Less affluent communities in the United States, and in many other parts of the world, will remain in a desperate condition for so long as this misguided drug war continues.
There are political forces in this country and elsewhere that see an advantage to themselves in flooding potentially dissident communities with addictive and destructive drugs. Stops the people from organizing effectively to protect their legitimate economic interests. Allows the imprisonment of any potentially disruptive element (eg. young men). There are some twisted people in this world, and some of them have very important jobs.
Drugs are dangerous. But the drug war is far more dangerous. It is time for some clear headed thinking that starts with knowledge and understanding. Enough of this politically induced ignorance. Military based responses to the production and distribution of Cocaine in Columbia have not diminished the flow of product, but they have created an outsized and over-equipped military force. Maybe that was the point. Someone’s idea of a political compromise – I’ll support your drug war if you’ll help me arm this regime that is friendly to certain “American Interests”.
Drug money exists as a tapeworm eating away the inside of our economic structures. Catherine Austin Fitts coined the term “tapeworm economy” and her point of view is very informative on this matter. And Terrence McKenna is another voice representing a legitimate interest. Drugs are dangerous, but waging war doesn’t diminish the danger. In fact the danger of drugs is significantly increased by the fact of their illegality. Decriminalization can lead to more sensible control. There is no control in an illegal system by definition – that’s what makes it illegal, the lack of control.
Drugs are dangerous, but fear is a poor foundation upon which to build a policy. Take a good long look, and then, in the context of a complete reversal in the long term policy of prohibition, decriminalize marijuana, and step back and notice that the world doesn’t fall apart as a result. Notice you might be selling a lot less Prozac and Zanex, but people are happier, and there is a bit more green money being passed around the neighborhood. The more this money circulates, the more prosperity accrues to the neighborhood, and this shows up in the form of more small traders and shops, locally owned and operated businesses. More jobs, better schools, more focused law enforcement, safer neighborhoods, less corruption. Less alcohol consumption – especially among the young.
And having braved the unknown with that one simple step, and having learned what there is to be learned, tackle the problem of addictive drugs with enlightened dispatch. It is impossible to imagine that a policy could be crafted which would produce a more negative result that the current dismal situation.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
“The Wheelchair” is from a Chinese Factory. She, for she is the most assuredly feminine of all the machines I have owned, can go places most wheelchairs cannot = up and down kerbs for example, which is necessary if the bike is to be viable transportation.
I haven’t begun to explore her slinky strength. I am barely able to walk at the moment, due to circulation problems in my leg(s). This condition will only get worse unless I take steps to reverse the deterioration. So I need the advice of an expert in healing and herbs.
And I need the bike to get to his house. Cos If I were to go by metro, going by recent experience, I’d expect it to hurt. The pressure bandage helped some, The daily aspirin, and the daily lemon juice and baking soda may be having some positive effect, who knows how bad this would be without that? I can manage the ride all the way there and back, but I might take the train there and bike back. Depending. Get some Stevia anyway.
Twenty four speeds, front shocks, spring mounted comfort saddle, disks front and rear. I added a monster back-rack with custom cage, carved out of a black plastic File Tray from Target. Extra reflectors, lights. I have the front shocks screwed down pretty tight, and the tires at the high end of the range, but I cannot make “wheelchair” perform like “Gravel”. The twist-grip gear changes are a step backwards from the crisp and slick triggers, and the pointer moves across the numbers, instead of the numbers moving past the fixed point, so they take some getting used to.
I am traveling mostly on the sidewalk (where I was comfortable with Gravel on the road) and I am in lower gear due to my physical limitations. I am out of shape, because it is ten months since Gravel got nicked. And the wheelchair has really substandard pedals. So I cannot claim to have mastered the skills needed to test wheelchair against my own limitations, let alone her innate potential. She makes it possible for me to have a life outside of this room. And for that I am truly grateful. I hope we have a long and close relationship.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Economist Article. Is this microcredit? Or shameless exploitation of impoverished people?
Book Review - Small Loans, Big Dreams
I met Alex Counts when he entered microcredit circles in 1987. We worked together for a while. Alex was very competent. I recommended that he pursue a career
in microcredit. So you can’t expect an unbiased review of Alex’s book Small Loans, Big Dreams.
Twenty years of work informs this book. The one thing that really stands out is just how difficult it is to succeed at micro-credit. How hard the women have to work. The range of obstacles they have to overcome. Inspirational and daunting. How do microfinance institutions manage 112 million people willing to undertake such an arduous path? How dire does the alternative have to be before this is a viable option?
112 million families receiving microfinance services in 2007. This is a growth of 12% from the previous year. At 12% annual growth the current target of 175 million poor families by 2015 will be exceeded by more than 100 million.
The average annual growth rate over the past 11 years is just a hair below 32%. If it were possible to continue that rate of growth, the number of families receiving microfinance services would be 1.03 Billion by 2015 – about half of all the families in the world.
Yunus also published a book recently. Here is Yunus talking about Social Business from 2007.
What about the conceptual failure. And one conceptual failure that I would like to share with you because you are coming up with lots of conceptual framework in your mind.
It’s very clear how it fails in addressing the issue of human abilities. It is the concept of business. We all know what is business, but the existing concept of business, I feel very strongly doesn’t do justice to human beings. It limits human beings ability.
The present concept of business is to make money. Business means business to make money. There is no other business definition. Profit maximization is the mission of business.
But is that what human being is all about?
What about the other urges people have inside their heart? Same human being who wants to make money at the same time wants to do other things, do good to other people, to make an impact on this planet. How come I can not accommodate it in my business.
So I am saying there is a failure to limiting human being in only one role. Single dimensional human beings. But human beings are multi-dimensional. Human being want to make money, but human beings are also caring human beings. So in order to accommodate the other urges why cant we create another type of business. Maybe we call them social business. Social business is a business to do good to other people. Social business is to solve a social problem. Not for making money, or personal gain out of it. It’s a non-loss, non-dividend company. With a social objective.
And some people say,” Ah people are not crazy to do such things”. And I say you will be amazed how crazy people are, they give away their money in philanthropy. If they can give away money for philanthropy, they can put their money to do good to other people too, as a business. Philanthropy is a wonderful idea, you help people But philanthropy money has a capacity of one type, but social business money, social business dollar has a multiple of that capacity, because it recycles, it goes on. It can solve the problem.
As Alex points out in Small Loans, Big Dreams microfinance institutions modeled on Grameen are one example of a social business. There are many others. Yunus is working to establish a social stock exchange whereby people can invest in social business. This has enormous growth potential -- the available market is huge. About six and a half billion people could benefit directly from not for profit businesses capitalized to take care of environmental and social problems. Because these organizations are bubbled up from the bottom, rather than managed from the top, they remain closer to local realities and priorities. This is a vastly more efficient process than relying on government programs, and of far greater utility than business capitalized for the purpose of making money.
What kind of world do you want?
Sunday, March 2, 2008
What’s the betting there’s a big Diebold win for Clinton in Texas and Ohio? The recount in New Hampshire was cancelled due to lack of money even though serious discrepancies had been exposed. Remember the massive outcry?
I don’t think the Clinton/Bush cabal are going to give up their dreams of global domination just because a few million ignorant voters decide they want something else. The American presidency has been “won” by fraud for all of the past eight years, few people objected, and those that did were largely ignored by the corporate media. There have been no changes in media ownership which suggest a more reliable and impartial coverage this time around. If anything, the criminals have strengthened their grip.The gap between reality and the fiction presented by the world’s media barons has been a gaping chasm since September 2001, and the gap grows wider and deeper with each passing day.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Doctor Shortage Change Obama We Are One
Maryland is running short of doctors. In part this is due to the outsourcing of medical training costs by accepting immigrant doctors and depriving young Americans of the opportunity to train for a lucrative and worthwhile career. This is the cost of legal immigration. By focusing the discussion on illegal immigration, the true costs and advantages of the present immigration system are concealed. What happens to a society which develops along this path? It may be financially expedient for a while, but ultimately the community must provide for the training of its own doctors (engineers, lawyers, scientists etc). The bills are coming due, just at the point we can least afford to pay them.
A more efficient health care system would take much greater advantage of greater numbers of less expensive nurses and primary health care workers, and provide a great many worthwhile jobs for the community. This is what government funded health care programs do. They provide lots of good worthwhile jobs. Why are we importing people from other countries to do these professional jobs, when we have such a great need for decent jobs in less well off communities all over the country.
Just because it is manifestly easier for the politicians to contain the great American tradition of accepting people from all over the world in search of a better life for themselves, by allocating slots to people based on their having achieved advanced education overseas, at someone else’s expense. WE demonize as illegal, the undocumented workers who arrive penniless and desperate, as so many of our forefathers did before us. And we forget, in this dispute of who has a “right” to be here, that many arrived in chains, and their descendants still face an almost impossible struggle in many cities and farm communities all over this land of the free.
It is in the nature of all things to change. It is the only constant of which we can be confident. Unceasing change and transformation is fundamental to our existence on this mortal plane. The genetic make up, and the conscious historical traditions of our people are expanding at an ever increasing rate. This is inevitable, and therefore, if you want to be able to understand this change, you need to accept its benefits and its other consequences, and grow your understanding in alignment with it. Senator Obama’s candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party is one of the manifestations of this change. The multi cultural lives of our teenagers and young adults in urban and suburban areas of the United States are another indication. Change is speeding up. This is partly because of our abilities to communicate with vast numbers of people very quickly, but this again is neither cause nor effect, but manifestation of a far deeper and more permanent change.
Old barriers of race are breaking down in the United States. Oh we still find lots of ways to separate ourselves from each other. Our suburban lifestyles and car culture have cut and sliced the arrangement of our lives - we don’t get out enough, and when we do go out, casual conversations with the neighbors, once a feature of ordinary life everywhere for hundreds of thousands of years, has been replaced with chatting to the clerk at your local McDonalds. People now meet each other on the internet. In response to a god-awful loneliness (hmm…reminds me of some days as a teenager) people connect with each other over vast distances, and over their local neighborhood sitting in front of small screens.
Pretty soon our situation is going to be dramatically changed in response to the decline in the use of oil to power our lifestyle.
There are all sorts of reasons why we must, and inevitably will, decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. This will entail some very serious re-tooling, and a big rethink in architecture and the design of community living spaces. We simply will not be traveling anything like the distances our current generation, and the previous couple, have always taken for granted. This is another big change that America is racing to embrace, while at the same time squeezing the maximum economic benefits from the existing arrangement. The old structure must fall, and it seems the owners of all that capital investment are preparing (however grudgingly and slowly) to switch to the green economy. The advent of Green products from the makers of Clorox Bleach is a welcome sign. Recent restructuring of the conditionality of loans to energy generation companies requiring investment in cleanup and in renewable sources, is another.
One thing of which you can be certain, the number of energy units consumed is going to go way down for a lot of us. The pollution and noise of the internal combustion engine is about to undergo a dramatic decline. The air will be a lot cleaner.
Managing this change will require very flexible leadership in Washington DC. Does Obama have the capacity to manage, to lead through the minefield of competing interests? Well, maybe, maybe not, but somehow or other we must, if we are to continue to be successful as a nation, develop a way of living in harmony with each other, and with the natural world of which we are a very important part.
In other words, our selves must unite and integrate at higher and more inclusive ways until we can form policy from the core idea that what is good for the world, and for the people of the world, most of all, is necessarily good for America. We must flow with the change to be successful, to resist, to try and delay the change will exhaust the power of all who try it.
We are One.
We are becoming one world people in a very meaningful and transcendent manner. Nothing can interfere with this change. It runs far deeper than the superficial reality of nation states, and water shortages, and resource wars, and whatever else dances in the pixels of broadcast reality.
We are One. It is manifest.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
The issue that only Ron Paul will discuss in the Presidential campaign is the use of the United States military to protect the profits of trans-national corporations all over the world. It is time we understood that our role in the world, as American workers and American taxpayers is to provide for the needs of international finance. We are slaves to a homegrown power that has no loyalty to our country.
It is corporate power and profit that dictates our foreign and domestic policy. WE have been overthrown. Government of, by and for the people has perished from the earth.
If we are to take back that which is rightfully ours, our freedom, then we must remove from government all those corporate lackeys who have been complicit in this counter-revolution, and shut down the institutions of global dominance. And the really sad truth is that this may no longer be possible within the lifetime of anyone now living.
How is an individual to face up to this reality and begin to turn the tide? First we must, by our individual choices and actions, refuse to support the corporate monsters. Don’t work for them, don’t buy their products, don’t vote for their lackeys. Transitioning to this role is difficult because we have been asleep for many decades. Each of us must evaluate our lifestyle and replace those activities in which we engage that result in gains for our corporate masters.
Do not work for trans-national corporations.
Do not buy their products.
Do not use their banks
Use barter, lets and home produced food to withdraw from the corporate economy
Invest in alternative non-corporate energy, food, housing and transportation.
Keep your taxable income as low as humanly possible to starve the military industrial complex.
Turn off the corporate propaganda feeds – no television, no corporate owned radio and newspapers.
Organize alternative political parties
Get to know your neighbors and develop local solutions to meeting the needs of the community.
Or suicide. A concerted international suicide campaign would demonstrate absolute opposition to corporate slavery. Live free or die.
How many suicides would it take before the sleeping power of the majority is awoken to the reality of their situation? Hundreds of millions probably. (Tough sell, eh?) How to organize this?
If each suicide were published on YouTube then the powers would shut down the channel. It would be necessary to organize mass-suicides that could not be suppressed by the media. If, for example, a hundred million Americans were to suicide on one day, that might be enough. But the masters of international finance would love to see the world population dramatically reduced, and would simply replace that many without batting an eye. In fact, preventable disease and poverty already kill millions every year, and there is no end to the supply.
What if we stopped reproducing? Again, that is already happening – fertility rates are below replacement levels in much of the industrialized world, and only immigration keeps our numbers rising.
Is there no way out? What if we just stopped working and spent our days sitting on the sidelines and refusing to participate. This is what I do now, but it would only be effective if there were a huge increase in the number of people living this way. A sort or permanent national strike.
Do what you can, sabotage the corporate monster at every opportunity. Fill the jails and prisons. Again, this strategy is already employed by some, but the corporate monster adapts to the situation by building more prisons, and for a profit.
The situation is impossible. There is no way out.
So go back to work. Relax in front of the TV. Invest your passion in the spectacle of professional sports. Ignore the ongoing slaughter and pretend to believe in the righteousness of the cause of global capitalism. Suppress your anxiety and awareness with prescription drugs and alcohol. Spend your life accumulating the toys and distractions provided to submissive servants of the monster. Leave the problem for your kids.
Eventually the corporate monsters will eat the whole world, and then each other.
And the survivors will start the whole process all over again.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Center for Public Integrity today released a report, and a publicly accessible database of 935 false statements issued by eight senior officials of the Bush administration in the lead up to the Iraq war. The study claims that this was “part of an orchestrated campaign” on the part of the Bush administration.
The White House claims in its defense that their position on Iraq, WMD’s and Al Quaida, were based on the consensus of intelligence agencies all over the world. But at the time, George Bush repeatedly cited British sources for his wild and extravagant claims, and yet there was so much controversy in British Intelligence that two ministers (Claire Short and Robin Cook) resigned and one intelligence analyst (Dr. David Kelly) was executed, with the government and virtually all news sources claiming an improbable suicide.
In Australia, a senior intelligence analyst resigned and spoke out frequently about the distortions that were been imposed on the public mind through an orchestrated government and media campaign in support of a war that could not be justified.
And yet the war happened, and all of these lies and distortions go virtually unmentioned in the current election campaign. Hundreds of billions of dollars in profitable war related contracts continue to provide a feast for cronies of Bush and Cheney. And thousands of people in Iraq live in mortal jeopardy.
Also today, thousands of hungry people escaped from the Israeli prison camp most of us know as the Gaza strip. The people blew a hole in the wall (built by Israel) and poured across the border into Egypt. These people have been subjected to a vicious campaign of oppression and deprivation in retaliation for them having elected a government which does not meet with the approval of Washington and Tel Aviv.
Also today Vice President Dick Cheney made a presentation to the Heritage Foundation on the subject of FISA legislation. He based the rationale for this legislation on an entirely fabricated reality in which Al Queda terrorists, (who had attacked America on September 11, 2001), were plotting equally dastardly acts with equal likelihood of success, were it not for the fearless work of dedicated American patriots torturing suspects and monitoring all communications in the United States with the active participation of telephone and communications companies. There was no Q & A broadcast on Cspan – just the raw propaganda. Most sinister and duplicitous President of Vice ever.
Meanwhile back in the Congress the Democrats are promoting Schip as a stimulus measure. It would inject resources into the hands of poor people, allowing them to free –up funds currently dedicated to health care, but the Republicans are resisting because they want whatever changes they make to be temporary (and they want the goodies for their rich friends, as usual).
The impending recession continues to expose structural defects in the global economy.
The fundamental problem is that far too many people are simply left out. In order to include them, global rates of consumption must be in balance with the productivity of the biosphere. We cannot provide a reasonable standard of living for nine or ten billion people (which is the likely peak in world population if present trends continue) if that standard of living requires rates of consumption similar to those imposed by the structures of our civilization. In other words we have to change the way we live, to create a viable example that the rest of the world can emulate.
We have, in the past, regarded ourselves as the “Shining City on the Hill” that all the peoples of the world aspire to re-create for themselves. Had we been successful in having the rest of the world copy the way we behave, then our high consuming lifestyle would have almost destroyed the ability of this planet to support life.
Even with the minimal participation in economic activity now enjoyed by one fifth of the world’s population, habitat destruction and pollution result in two hundred species becoming extinct every single day.
The world cannot remain the way it is.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Mr. Bernanke seems nervous, and stresses the need for speed. This is $100 billion to boost consumption. Obviously the best place to put it is in the hands of people who will spend it immediately. Generally speaking the poorer the recipient, the faster the stimulation flows into the system. But I would say that.
If it works, then perhaps Mr. Bernanke will consider a more permanent “stimulus” in the form of universal health care and a sharp increase in the minimum wage.
Instead of diverting hundreds of billions of dollars into unnecessary wars of choice, and hundreds of millions into incarcerating the poor, a more enlightened administration might consider an extensive program of infrastructure re-design to accommodate our new healthy lifestyles. More walking, more bicycles, more local production and consumption, significantly less use of fossil fuels.
The redesign of the suburbs to encompass more viable communities with work, food, water and power all locally available. The construction of efficient rail and canal transportation. And some decent schools. There is an almost unending list. Many of these projects have been waiting for years for funding to be available, everything else is already in place.
If this situation leads to a rethink of the whole stimulus game, then we might restore something meaningful to the term “civilization”.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Microcredit pioneer Dr. Yunus is traveling around the United States.
He is promoting his new book which I hope to review later. In this audio Dr Yunus describes his work.
Microcredit, for which Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, is a brilliant achievement, and one for which Yunus has already attained an enduring legacy.
If present growth rates are maintained, this development will have a very significant effect, altering the whole story of humanity. Whether this, in itself will be sufficient to realign our species with the global biosphere upon which all life depends, remains to be seen. But if we do make it to a point of population stasis, and then commence an orderly and voluntary decline in numbers, microcredit will have been one of the main innovations that made that possible. It is hard to conceive of a future in which Yunus’s achievement will not be revered by hundreds of millions, and with good reason. The eradication of poverty remains within reach, and many of us will live long enough to see it happen.
Audacious and Excellent. Strongly recommended.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
After decades of strong arming the Democratic party, going back at least as far as President Reagan in 1980, some Republicans, looking at a the potential of a severe reversal, are now calling for a bi-partisan cabinet, or a government of national unity.
With fewer and fewer people aligning themselves with either party, and the extent of the Republican betrayal of the American worker now becoming apparent to all This can only be seen as a last gasp attempt by the right wing to hold the country to the far right course that has served them so well for decades.
We already have two parties who slavishly follow a corporate agenda at the expense of the common people. Under the guise of “free trade” millions of good union manufacturing jobs have been transferred overseas. Both parties, taking much of their income from defense and pharmaceutical industries, have defended and extended the war machine, and fiercely defend the massive profits taken from the most expensive health care system in the world.
For decades, both parties have exploited the “Cold War” to unite the country in the face of an imaginary enemy. Now that the evil empire has been dismantled, both parties cling to the boogeyman bin Laden, and the myth of international terrorism in the hope of scaring people silly enough to support their massive theft and exploitation, and oppression of much of the rest of the world.
The fact is that more people die in traffic accidents in one day, than succumb to terrorist attacks in a year. More people die every year falling down stairs than as a result of terrorist attacks. SO terrorism is clearly not a big enough problem for people to check their common sense at the door. And there remains the problem of 911. What actually happened that day? No thinking person can continue to believe the official government conspiracy theory. There has still been no explanation for the total destruction of a 42 story building that day. It seems that there is no fabrication that will fit this event into the tale of 19 knife-wielding supermen, which has already been stretched beyond the fantastic in the story told by the bi-partisan 911 Commission.
The problems now faced by the Republicans and the Democrats, is that it is too easy for people to access alternative views to those expressed on the corporate media. The propaganda matrix is crumbling at the edges. The extent of environmental damage is too great to hide from all but the completely brain dead. The real crisis we face has nothing to do with Muslim extremists.