Poverty

Tent Cities Mushroom

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Published on The Economic Collapse on September 11, 2016

Homeless

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Tent Cities Full Of Homeless People Are Booming In Cities All Over America As Poverty Spikes

Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate.  According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day.  And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about.  It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year.  Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.

Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.  Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.   And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up

There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.

Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.

“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”

But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this.  The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia

Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area.  For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana

A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.

City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.

The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.

“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.

If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?

They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.

This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them.  So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem.  It just passes it on to someone else.

As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control.  Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.

In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents.  We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.

Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you.  The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post

Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?

Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?

Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?

Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?

Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?

Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?

Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.

The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion.  We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.

Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead.  Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia for The Good Old Daze

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on June 5, 2016

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When you get to be a "certain age", as you watch the world change around you (generally for the worse), there is a tremendous tendency towards nostalgia for "The Good Old Days".  You might think that this is just something Boomers do today as they wax nostalgic for what they remember from childhood, playing pickup games of baseball in the sandlot, before Little League professionalized childhood baseball with fancy uniforms and Booster Clubs raising money for expensive buses to take the team on road trips.  Before the days when Texas Cheerleader Moms would shoot each other to get their daughter on the squad. Before Hockey dads would get in fistfights in the stands that make the fights NHL players have on the ice pale in comparison.  You know, the Ozzie & Harriet world of the 1950s, where everybody lived in a nice house with a white picket fence and went to the Soda Fountain to have a Banana Split and play the latest Elvis tune on the Juke Box.  The world Marty McFly returned to in Back to the Future, with a half dozen Pump Boys out there washing the windows and polishing the tires with 10 cents a gallon gas for a fillup.

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/bttf/images/9/92/Texaco1955wide.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20080110081542

When regaled with these stories from their Boomer parents and grandparents, Millenials will yawn, just as Boomers yawned when regaled with stories of "The Good Old Days" by their Silent and "Greatest Generation" parents.  At the top of the page here you have the opening theme song from "All in the Family", which featured Caroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, a blue collar right-wing racist who embodied the backbone of Richard Nixon's "Silent Majority". Basically the Role Model for Jimbo Quinn & his cohort of Libertarian Shit Throwing Monkeys on The Burning Platform. lol. The "real life Archie Bunker" title was also handed off to The Donald Chump recently by All in the Family creator Norman Lear. No surprise here Jimbo Quinn is a Donald Duckling.

With his dopey wife Edith portrayed by Jean Stapleton, they pined for the Good Old Days, before Strauss & Howe's LAST "4th Turning".

Those Were The Days (All In The Family Theme)


Boy, the way Glenn Miller played!
Songs that made the Hit Parade.
Guys like us, we had it made.
Those were the days!

And you knew where you were then.
Girls were girls and men were men.

Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn't need no welfare state.
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days!

I suspect if you could go back in Doc Brown's Delorean to when Archie & Edith's parents were kids, there would have been an older generation who pined for the Good Old Days of the Robber Barons and financial panics every decade or so.  In reality, all nostalgic views of the Good Old Days come from when you were a kid, and as long as you were decently fed and cared for you have fond memories of those carefree days.

http://img.wennermedia.com/620-width/e1a0ce0fb4102dda4c4f1ee115a8882a52add468.jpg This nostalgia has crept into the Boomer zeitgeist in many ways, mainly through television of course.  When the TV series "The Wonder Years" came on in the late 80s depicting suburban life in the 1970s, it seemed just about like I remembered it.  "That '70s Show" parodied the life of the time, but it still all seemed like fun, now didn't it?

The truth of course is that there really never WERE any Good Old Days for most people, although it is true that from the 50s through the 70s or so people in general did experience a rising standard of living, at least here in the FSoA.

What was REALLY going on though in these years when supposedly it was so much better than it is now?  I'm going to start with the turn of the 20th Century here, with the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the great expansion of the Industrial Civilization across Amerika.  What you will see is that for every era, for the rich at the top of the society, the Good Old Days were just about always REALLY GOOD!  Not quite so true for everyone else though.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/19/16/79/1916799e84e677efd2cc8697ced8aced.jpg It was the so called "Gilded Age" and it was REALLY GOOD for the Robber Barons at the top of the heap in those days, guys like John D Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, JP Morgan and Jacob Astor.  The first Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, and they were bizzy expanding the rail network all over the place, particularly between the manufacturing centers of Detroit and Chicago and the trade center of NY Shity.  Riding around in luxury in Private Rail cars, those days were definitely good for them then.  Not so good today in Chicago and Detroit of course.

http://www.pkwy.k12.mo.us/intra/professional/student_work/west_web3/10021651.JPG Not so good also back then for the folks who got the job of building those railroads, imported from China and Ireland to work for slave wages, often paid in Scrip good only at the Company Store, which often went no good as soon as said company went bankrupt, which was often.  The Robber Barons themselves never suffered from these bankruptcies, then as now they were protected under layers of corporate shields, holding companies and trusts.

While Detroit, Boston and Chicago certainly had some beautiful homes and neighborhoods built during this period, this wasn't where the majority of people imported from Europe or dragged up from the South after the Civil War were living.  They were housed in cold water flats, 6 story walk up tenements prior to the first elevators going in in places like the Lower East Side of New York where the waves of immigrants found shelter after passing through the portal at Ellis Island, waving to the Statue of Liberty on the way in.

http://daysgoneby.me/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Part-of-a-group-of-171-aliens-illegally-in-the-country-wave-goodby-to-the-Statue-of-Liberty-e1416106005778.jpg For these folks, you can make the case it was the "Better Old Days", since it was certainly a step up from the Pogroms and persecution and poverty they had escaped in Europe, but calling this living "Good" is a stretch.

Women worked in Garment Factories with no provisions for safety, and regular fires burned many to death both here and in Jolly Old England.  Even if they weren't in the building when it burned down, the job was immediately gone and there was no buffer of Unemployment insurance.  No disability insurance either if you got hurt on the job, and while obviously a portion of this population survived, procreated and eventually climbed out of poverty, many more did not.  The population grew, and the number of poor people grew with it.  The idea industrialization ever lifted many out of poverty is a complete lie.  It merely shifted around the poverty, and by offshoring much of it made it invisible to the local population of Amerikans living on credit and buying the products of impoverished slaves in the 3rd World at Walmart at Low, Low Prices Every Day..

As the 20th Century got rolling, with all the speculation on the railroads and the growing industrial economy, the financial panics came fast and furious through the late 1800s and into the early 1900s.

Here's a partial list, for the full list go to Wiki.

Panic of 1893 Jan 1893 –
June 1894
1 year
5 months
1 year
8 months
−37.3% −29.7% Failure of the United States Reading Railroad and withdrawal of European investment led to a stock market and banking collapse. This Panic was also precipitated in part by a run on the gold supply. The Treasury had to issue bonds to purchase enough gold. Profits, investment and income all fell, leading to political instability, the height of the U.S. populist movement and the Free Silver movement.[23]
Panic of 1896 Dec 1895 –
June 1897
1 year
6 months
1 year
6 months
−25.2% −20.8% The period of 1893–97 is seen as a generally depressed cycle that had a short spurt of growth in the middle, following the Panic of 1893. Production shrank and deflation reigned.[22]
1899–1900 recession June 1899 –
Dec 1900
1 year
6 months
2 years −15.5% −8.8% This was a mild recession in the period of general growth beginning after 1897. Evidence for a recession in this period does not show up in some annual data series.[22]
1902–04 recession Sep 1902 –Aug 1904 1 year
11 months
1 year
9 months
−16.2% −17.1% Though not severe, this downturn lasted for nearly two years and saw a distinct decline in the national product. Industrial and commercial production both declined, albeit fairly modestly.[22] The recession came about a year after a 1901 stock crash.
Panic of 1907 May 1907 –
June 1908
1 year
1 month
2 years
9 months
−29.2% −31.0% A run on Knickerbocker Trust Company deposits on October 22, 1907, set events in motion that would lead to a severe monetary contraction. The fallout from the panic led to Congress creating the Federal Reserve System.[24]
Panic of 1910–1911 Jan 1910 –
Jan 1912
2 years 1 year
7 months
−14.7% −10.6% This was a mild but lengthy recession. The national product grew by less than 1%, and commercial activity and industrial activity declined. The period was also marked by deflation.[22]


The 1907 Panic which began with the failure of the Knickerbocker Trust is what got the Federal Reserve system going, although the pigmen who worked up that scheme didn't get it off the ground for another 6 years until 1913 after numerous secret meetings, culminating in the famous meeting under Deep Cover at Jekyll Island.

https://fatherdoyle.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ww1-gas-attack-3.jpg While none of these years were particularly good for anyone but the Elite, they got a whole lot worse when WWI kicked off in Europe, and we sent a generation of Doughboys to fight in the trenches and get gassed by chlorine courtesy of I.G Farben-Bayer, currently attempting to merge with Monsanto, another corporation dedicated to the good of mankind and doing God's Work.  These were definitely not good old days for the Doughboys.

The end of WWI led into what is popularly remembered as the "Roaring Twenties" here in the FSoA, as once again there was wild speculation and a few people at the top lived the high life, which was now being documented in movies with stars like Jean Harlow and Lionel Barrymore.  F Scott Fitzgerald documented their lifestyle with The Great Gatsby.  So this is how we remember that time now, through those images and words and that seems like the Good Old Days.

But of course those days were not really so good except for a small number of people who were gambling on the stock market, and for a few years doing just GREAT!

Meanwhile though, over in Germany the Weimar Republic was crumbling, hyperinflation was rampant and parents were selling their children for sex just to get enough to eat.

http://www.infiniteunknown.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/weimar-hyperinflation.jpg Out across the farmland of the Great Plains, farm prices were crashing as industrial tractors began to proliferate and farm banks began to fail.  By the close of the decade in 1929 it was a Bubble ready to POP, and Pop it did big time with Black Thursday, October 24th, 1929.

The crash kicked off the Great Depression, which was not Good Old Days even for some pigmen who lost everything, although the top of the heap never did of course.  If you create the credit, you never go broke.

Bad as it was to start with, it only got worse with the collapse of the Rothschild bank Credite Anstaldt in Austria, causing a cascade of more bank failures and the worst years of the Great Depression 1932-1934.  Those were the years John Steinbeck chronicled in "The Grapes of Wrath".  1932-1934 were NOT Good Old Days for Okies picking peas in sunny California.

http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2000/8/image/Lange-Migrant-Mother-corr.jpg Meanwhile over in Germany, the Nazis came to power with the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, then you got the Spanish Civil War which ran from 1936-1939, basically leading straight into WWII.  These may have been Good Old Days for Ernest Hemingway, who got a lot of book material out of this and a chance to be Extra-Macho, but not for most Spaniards.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/0f/5d/ba/0f5dbabdfefcb9c8f9025fdaf46719de.jpg Definitely not Good Old Days for them as Pablo Picasso portrayed in his depiction of the bombing of Guernica, an early variation of Beirut and numerous other cities since subjected to the Death From Above from the Industrial Empire, and things really didn't improve much until WWII really kicked off and the FSoA was supplying arms to EVERYBODY!  Prescott Bush was laundering Nazi money, and banksters developed a "Lend-Lease" program for broke Britain so they could buy our planes.  Basically Vendor Financing there.

Except for the Rationing, WWII was probably better than the Great Depression for the people who were over here building planes and bombs, but for the GIs who got sent over there to storm the beaches at Normandy, I don't think you could characterize this as Good Old Days for them.

The close of WWII after the Nukes were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki DID begin the real Good Old Days for many Amerikans.  GI's who returned from the War alive got the GI Bill of Rights, which included such nice perks as a Discount Mortgage to buy a tract house in Levittown and Grants to get a College Education.  NOT such Good Old Days obviously for all the dead, burned and maimed victims of Fat Man and Little Boy, collateral damage of the Death From Above from the Flying Fortresses of the Enola Gay and Bockscar.

http://inosmi.ru/images/23667/31/236673193.jpg

With the FSoA left as about the only unscathed Industrial Power in the aftermath of the war, it got to supply everybody with materials to rebuild, and lots of good well paying Union jobs cropped up here, further helping the development of a new "Middle Class" in the FSoA.  Not everybody got to join this group equally though, in fact the black community basically got shut out of these jobs, and mostly only got much lower paying jobs doing the scut work of the society.  Segregation was the norm down in Old Dixie, and these were not Good Old Days for the Black folks, although somewhat better than the slavery of earlier years.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/OClYPCYAf7s/hqdefault.jpg The arrival of the 1950's along with Ozzie & Harriet, Leave it to Beaver and Your Show of Shows also brought with it the escalation of the Cold War and the Army-McCarthy hearings and their Communist Purges which destroyed the lives of numerous Amerikans of a leftward bent.  The Korean War was initiated to stop the spread of Communism by the Chinese, and that war against the "Domino Effect" spread seamlessly into the 1960s & and 1970s with the Vietnam War.

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/docroot/dulcinea/fd_images/news/on-this-day/March-April-08/On-this-Day--Army-McCarthy-Hearings-First-Televised/news/0/image.jpg The brief Ray of Hope that came with the election of John John F. Kennedy defeating Richard Nixon in the 1960 POTUS election was brutally and violently crushed with the shots fired in Dallas in 1963, and the social violence here only escalated after that, with the riots in Watts and Chicago of the seething Black community that had been basically shut out from all the bennies stemming from the end of WWII.  This was definitely not Good Old Days for them, but the violence did serve to get the New POTUS Lyndon B. Johnson to initiate the "Great Society", a social welfare program in theory designed to help these folks bootstrap out of poverty, but it never worked to do that.  It just worked to keep them pacified for a while while the money and credit was flowing fast and loose through the society.

The end of the Vietnam War brought some Good Old Days to some Amerikans here who got on the bandwagon of an expanding Industrial Culture, college educations were mostly available and affordable without outrageous debt, and there were jobs for those graduates in the expanding economy.  Those who did jump on this bandwagon and were successful with it tend to look at everyone who did not get on this train as lazy, stupid or both, and therefore deserving of their fate living through these years at the margins of the society.  In reality this group of "failures" is actually the largest demographic of Baby Boomers, they mostly do not have good retirement savings because they didn't earn enough to save, and they mostly are in debt because the wages they did get never kept up with the rate of inflation for the period.  So over the decades here, as a group they have sunk ever deeper in debt.  The 1% of financially successful Boomers out there sneer at these people and blame them for their own failures.  They weren't smart enough, they didn't work hard enough, they didn't save enough, etc.

The 1980s were hardly the Good Old Days for the Air Traffic Controllers, who Ronald Rayguns summarily dismissed and replaced with Scabs, and they weren't a very good decade either for about anyone in South America, where a suceession of CIA backed Coups and IMF backed Economic Hits made it impossible to run any kind of Goobermint that wasn't a vassal of the FSoA and a place to mine up natural resources or employ more slave labor, or both.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/56eHOZlZ42w/maxresdefault.jpg

The Endless War pursued by the Bushes (the heirs to the legacy of Nazi money launderer Prescott Bush) brought us to 9-11, and those were not Good Old Days for anyone working in those towers at the time.  That was a REALLY bad day to arrive at work early.   Nor have they been Good Old Days for the 1000s of veterans who have returned from these stupid wars with PTSD and committed suicide in the aftermath of their "service" to the Empire.

Although the last decade has been VERY GOOD Old Days for the 1%, for everybody else they have been Bad Old Days.  Certainly for all the unarmed black males murdered by cops they were the worst of days.  Not real good either for the millions of blacks currently incarcerated in a FSoA Prison System that now dwarfs what Uncle Joe Stalin ran in the Gulag.

https://www.popularresistance.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Screen-Shot-2014-11-01-at-11.40.07-AM.png

My conclusion here is that there never were any Good Old Days for most people, only days which varied from bad days to very bad days to worse than very bad days to awful and horrible days.  When you do have some seemingly good days, it's always at the expense of someone in another part of your society or another part of the world having a really bad day.

As you age though and look back in retrospect, what were actually Bad Old Days SEEM like Good Old Days.  This is because as time goes by things have always been getting progressively worse for most people, beginning with the Dawn of Agiculture, when most people traded the free wandering of the earth for Slavery in the fields.  Of course, for the 1% who took control, the days were very good when this occurred, and just got even BETTER when they rolled out the Industrial model.

The other reason the Old Days seem good in retrospect is that you were a KID in the old days, and for kids as long as they are decently fed and clothed with a roof overhead, days are always good.  There are games to play, places to explore and new things to learn every day.  The weight of the world is not in your consciousness and you don't have the responsibility of getting the food on the table, your parents take care of that.  Even if you are poor it doesn't seem bad to you until you become aware that there are others who are living a whole lot better than you.

http://www.hardrainproject.com/thumbnail.php?im=SP1028104.jpg&type=U This awareness of comparative situations comes to different kids at different ages I think.  For myself it came around age 7 or 8 when I was living in Brasil and saw how the poor kids in the Favelas lived.  They in turn of course saw how I lived, and the awareness of a distinction in class and privilege becomes a part of your consciousness.  Because the distribution of this privilege is largely race based with European descended Whites having the preponderence of the privileges and bennies, it creates the racial divide that inspires the hatred between races.

As you progressed through life, depending where you lived and what your opportunities and native intelligence were, some folks manage to social climb their way out of poverty.  It's not a huge percentage, but there are always Horatio Algers out there.  These folks tend to look at their days living in poverty as Bad Old Days they never want to return to.  They also tend to look at those they left behind as "losers", and attribute all their success to their own hard work and intelligence.  Gradually they adopt the meme of the 1%, that poor people are poor due to their own stupidity and laziness, and their empathy for these people diminishes.

Social mobility was probably at its zenith in the post WWII years from about 1950 to 1980 or so, but has been steadily diminishing since, and certainly since the turn of the millenium with the progressive evisceration of the middle class has become virtually non-existent.  Of course you still will get your Horatio Algers like Mark Suckerbug, scarfing up Billions in debt money from a Goldman underwritten IPO of Facepalm.  But for every Suckerbug, there are 10s of thousands of IT graduates flipping burgers at Mickey Ds and living in the basement of their parent's McMansions, where once they spent the Good Old Days playing with the Matchbox Racing Carz set they got for Christmas.

The stratification is becoming ever more solidified, and the gap between the Haves and the Have Nots in our society is becoming ever wider.  This can only lead to some God Awful Days in the years to come.  On the upside, when they look back, the Millenials will remember these days as the "Good Old Days".

Mother Theresa: Saint or Satanic?

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Published on the The Greanville Post on March 18, 2016

Mother-Teresa-9

Beatified in 2003 as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta,” she was unjustifiably called “saint of the gutters” for allegedly helping the poorest of the poor.

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Awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for “humanitarian work” and “spiritual inspiration,” her legacy is notably unsaintly.

Instead of caring for the sick and needy, she hobnobbed with the world’s rich, famous and infamous, accepting large donations from dubious sources, including convicted savings & loan crook Charles Keating, Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and other notorious tyrants.

 

 

After a promising beginning that aroused expectations in many quarters, Francis has shown himself to be a conventional Pope, with a lengthening roster of misfires. The fast-track canonization of a sham saint ratifies he is no enemy of the status quo. CC BY-NC-ND by Martin Schulz – EP President

 

 

Her so-called hospitals were human warehouses. Hunger and malnutrition were widespread. Sick and dying patients got little medical care from untrained nuns and other personnel – poor food and mistreatment instead under deplorable unsanitary conditions, conducive to serious illnesses and diseases.

Journalist/documentary filmmaker Donal Macintyre witnessed firsthand what went on. “Rescued” orphans were crammed into tight spaces with “hardly a breath of air between their bare metal bed frames,” he said.

Some children were strapped to beds or otherwise restrained. They had “their mouths gagged open to be given medicine, their hands flaying in distress, visible testimony to the pain they were in.”

“Tiny babies were bound with cloths at feeding time. Rough hands wrenched heads into position” to ingest deplorable food. Horrific mistreatment was commonplace, an affront to human dignity, Macintyre explained.

Cold water substituted for warm and hot. Soap and disinfectants were in short supply. “Workers washed down beds with dirty water and dirty cloths.” Macintyre “witnessed barbaric treatment of the most vulnerable.”

The nun was… a paramount example of the kind of acceptably conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a ‘saint’ who uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.”—Michael Parenti

Mother Teresa and her staff dispensed inhumane and degrading treatment. She was a sinner, not a saint, traveling the world in luxury, indulging in undeserved celebrity.

Claiming she fed thousands daily in Calcutta, it was scores at most. Alleging her school taught 5,000 children, its enrollment was less than 100.

Saying she had 102 family assistance centers in Calcutta, none existed. During area cholera epidemics and floods, she provided virtually no help for desperate people.

She spent most of her time abroad, jet-setting to Western capitals, enjoying luxuries, mindless of the suffering of sick and needy Calcutta residents she claimed to be helping.

Michael Parenti earlier called her “a paramount example of the kind of acceptably conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a ‘saint’ who uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.”

“She claimed to be above politics when in fact she was pronouncedly hostile toward any kind of progressive reform.”

Her public persona was one thing, reality entirely different, awarding her sainthood another black mark defining longstanding deplorable Vatican policy.



 

ABOUT STEPHEN LENDMAN
Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.13.00 AMSTEPHEN LENDMAN lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”  ( http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html ) Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes the Sun

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Published on Peak Surfer on December 13, 2015

PeakSurfer

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

"The COP agreed that the era of fossil energy is over. That is no longer in question. It will end by 2050, if not sooner. The question is how, and the Paris Agreement leaves that to fairy dust."

  At 7:27 pm Paris time (ECT), the President of the COP, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, gavelled the Paris Agreement home. The crowd stood, applauded and whooped. The text is here: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf

Success, it seemed to us, came because of the unions. They were not dockworkers or ironmongers. They were unions of countries with brands that read like corporate logos: AOSIS, ALBA, G77 Plus, High Ambition, the Like-Minded in favor of Kyoto Annexes, stealth-OPEC. No single effort could broker a deal unless it got the big unions on board. In the end ALBA and stealth-OPEC were too small to matter. The Like-Minded splintered in favor of the Ambitious. AOSIS and G77, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and High Ambition ruled.

In their 2 minute closer, Philippines noted it was the first time that the concept of Climate Justice appears in a legally binding document. In time, they hinted, the United States and other overdeveloped countries will be made to pay reparations to those who will lose all or substantial parts of their counties, including all that high-priced real estate in Rio, Capetown, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Consumerist Empires built on fossil energy may have an unusually large credit card statement coming at the end of the billing cycle.

Pluses and minuses in the new agreement: the 1.5C target is in, thanks to the efforts of UNFCCC head Christina Figueres to give a voice to civil society in these corridors. Five-year 'stocktakes' (Websters Dictionary please take note) — reassessment of progress and commitments — are in. Full phase-out of fossil energy by 2050 is not, but that door is not entirely closed and may be reopened at Marrakech next year.

"Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition, reflecting its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances."

What the text mandates, which is actually significant, is to "achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty."

Decarbonization by 2050 is no longer just a t-shirt. Now it's international law.

Bill McKibben said:

“Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry. This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

350.org Executive director, May Boeve said:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.

The final text still has some serious gaps. We’re very concerned about the exclusion of the rights of indigenous peoples, the lack of finance for loss and damage, and that while the text recognizes the importance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C, the current commitments from countries still add up to well over 3 degrees of warming. These are red lines we cannot cross. After Paris, we’ll be redoubling our efforts to deliver the real solutions that science and justice demand.”

The thinktank E3G said,  “The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age.”

Carbon Tracker said: “Fossil fuel companies will need to accept that they are an ex-growth stocks and must urgently re-assess their business plans accordingly.”

The Guardian called it "a victory for climate science and ultimate defeat for fossil fuels."

One piece of statescraft managed by Obama and Kerry was to neatly skirt what killed Kyoto: the 60 Neanderthals in the US Senate put there by the coal kings Koch Brothers. The New York Times spotted the play and reported:

Some elements of the accord would be voluntary, while others would be legally binding. That hybrid structure was specifically intended to ensure the support of the United States: An accord that would have required legally binding targets for emissions reductions would be legally interpreted as a new treaty, and would be required to go before the Senate for ratification.

Such a proposal would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where many lawmakers question the established science of climate change, and where even more hope to thwart President Obama’s climate change agenda.
 

***

The accord uses the language of an existing treaty, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to put forth legally binding language requiring countries to verify their emissions, and to periodically put forth new, tougher domestic plans over time.

In just updating regulations enacted under an already ratified treaty, the Paris Agreement bypasses the need for new Senate ratification.

Inside Le Bourget, after the obligatory high fives and selfies, delegates crafted sound bytes for the press and kept the lights on and microphones active past midnight. Outside, 10,000 activists took to the streets to pull a "red line," representing 1.5 degrees, to the Arc de Triomphe.

French President Francois Hollande, who has a gift for hyperbole, said "History is made by those who commit, not those who calculate. Today you committed. You did not calculate." Although not in the way he meant it, this is ironically a first-rate assessment of the Agreement.

There is a quality of awareness among all the delegates to the Paris climate talks that, after 20 years of these discussions, is passing strange. We would not call it a deer-in-the-headlights look, because it is not even quite there yet. Those jockeying for the best outcome for their own economies and constituencies are still quite oblivious to the science of what is transpiring and the seriousness of the threat. They have their noses down in the trough and do not hear the butcher at the barn door.

This should not be surprising. Nowhere in the fossil record is there anything quite like what is transforming the world of humans today. Our physical brains are virtually the same as they were 30,000 years ago, when we were standing upright in the savannah, alert to proximate, not distant, threats and quickly obtained, not slowly exploited, resources.

We make ourselves ignorant in at least three ways: not knowing the basic science of climate change, not knowing what to do about it once we 
become aware of the problem, and being barraged with wrong information about both of those and being unable to distinguish fact from fiction.

We might think that a lamb raised in New Zealand and eaten in London would create more greenhouse gases than one being locally grown, but in the way the world works today, the opposite is true. We might think that going vegan is more climate responsible than raising farmed animals, but because of how pastured animals stock soils with carbon, the opposite can be true. We might think, as climate scientist James Hansen does, that low prices for gas cause more fossil fuels to be burned, but the opposite is true, because low prices keep whole provinces of production from being tapped.

When disciplined and deliberate attempts 
by profit-driven vested interests in the production of 
greenhouse gases cast doubt on science and corrupt politics and the media, grasping these nuances becomes even more difficult.

We are a lucky species in that our optimism is more-or-less hard-wired. People tend to be overly optimistic 
about their chances of having a happy marriage or avoiding illness. Young people are easily lured to join the military, become combat photographers, or engage in extreme-risk sports because they are unrealistically optimistic they can avoid harm. 
Humans are also overly optimistic about environmental risks. Our confirmation bias helps us keep up this optimism even when confronted with scientific truths to the contrary.

The principal outcome is less about the how than about the whether. The COP agreed that the era of fossil energy is over. That is no longer in question. It will end by 2050, if not sooner. The question is how, and the Paris Agreement leaves that to fairy dust.

The Guardian reports:

Throughout the week, campaigners have said the deal had to send a clear signal to global industry that the era of fossil fuels was ending. Scientists have seen the moment as career defining.

Carbon Tracker said:

“New energy technologies have become hugely cost-competitive in recent years and the effect of the momentum created in Paris will only accelerate that trend. The need for financial markets to fund the clean energy transition creates opportunity for growth on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.”

What will replace fossil energy? The basket of renewables described by Jeremy Leggett in Winning the Carbon War? There is a slight problem there, and one wonders how long it will take for that to catch up to the delegates. Perhaps by the first stocktake, but maybe longer.

The problem, as often described on this site and elaborated in our book, the Post-Petroleum Survival Guide (2006), is net energy, or return on energy investment (EROEI), first elaborated by systems ecologist Howard T. Odum. These days the leading scientists in that field are calling it "biophysical economics."

To put it as simply as possible, the source of almost all our energy is the sun. When the EROEI of a resource is less than or equal to one, that energy source becomes a net "energy sink", and can no longer be used as a source of energy, but depending on the system might be useful for energy storage (for example a battery, or the tidal storage in Scotland). A fuel or energy must have an EROEI ratio of at least 3:1 to be considered viable as a prominent fuel or energy source. This chart shows typical values for various technologies.
 

Right now most of what powers the world comes from the top half of that chart. The Paris agreement suggests that most of what we need by 2050 must be selected from portions of the bottom half of the chart — the so-called "clean" energies." Quoth the prophet, Wikipedia:

Thomas Homer-Dixon argues that a falling EROEI in the Later Roman Empire was one of the reasons for the collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century CE. In "The Upside of Down" he suggests that EROEI analysis provides a basis for the analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations. Looking at the maximum extent of the Roman Empire, (60 million) and its technological base the agrarian base of Rome was about 1:12 per hectare for wheat and 1:27 for alfalfa (giving a 1:2.7 production for oxen). One can then use this to calculate the population of the Roman Empire required at its height, on the basis of about 2,500–3,000 calories per day per person. It comes out roughly equal to the area of food production at its height. But ecological damage (deforestation, soil fertility loss particularly in southern Spain, southern Italy, Sicily and especially north Africa) saw a collapse in the system beginning in the 2nd century, as EROEI began to fall. It bottomed in 1084 when Rome's population, which had peaked under Trajan at 1.5 million, was only 15,000. Evidence also fits the cycle of Mayan and Cambodian collapse too. Joseph Tainter suggests that diminishing returns of the EROEI is a chief cause of the collapse of complex societies, this has been suggested as caused by peak wood in early societies. Falling EROEI due to depletion of high quality fossil fuel resources also poses a difficult challenge for industrial economies.

When we hear pleas from underdeveloping countries for greater financial assistance to allow them to adapt — meaning building out renewable energy and migrating coastal cities inland — we have to ask ourselves if they really comprehend what they will need to adapt to, and whether any amount of money will ever be enough. The status quo ante – the way things worked before — is gone, and so is the modo omnia futura. One hundred billion dollars per year is not enough to save human beings as a species but asking for more won't help, either. What might help is committing to degrowth, depopulation, and scaling back our human footprint to something closer to what we had coming out of the last Ice Age, before we started building monumental cities, mining metal, and inventing writing. We don't need to abandon writing, but lets get real — those megacities may be unsalvageable on a solar budget.

Dr. Guy McPherson writes:

Astrophysicists have long believed Earth was near the center of the habitable zone for humans. Recent research published in the 10 March 2013 issue of Astrophysical Journal indicates Earth is on the inner edge of the habitable zone, and lies within 1% of inhabitability (1.5 million km, or 5 times the distance from Earth to Earth’s moon). A minor change in Earth’s atmosphere removes human habitat. Unfortunately, we’ve invoked major changes.

This discussion seems strangely absent, despite the pushback against Saudi Arabia and India after they succeeded in excluding the substantive recommendations of the Structured Expert Dialogue from the COP. They were not allowed to dump the provisions on transparency and uniform accounting, although it was not for lack of effort.

Instead, we keep hearing reference to an outdated and unfortunate IPCC number — the bent straw everyone is grasping for — that to have a 50-50 chance of limiting warming to 2°C (itself untenably overheated), cumulative emissions to end of century and beyond must be limited to 1 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide in total, starting 5 years ago. In that past five years we burned through one tenth – 100 Gt. Most predict that with added growth (a big assumption) we’ll have burned through 75% of this "budget" by 2030 and we’ll bust the budget around 2036. If we cut back, we might have until 2060.

Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace said, "We have a 1.5C wall to climb but the ladder is not tall enough." But he acknowledged, “As a result of what we have secured here we will win… for us Paris was always a stop on an ongoing journey… I believe we are now in with a serious chance to succeed.”

Glen Peters, scientist at CICERO, said 1.5C effectively requires a fossil fuel phase-out by 2030. He later clarified that was without negative emissions or the immediate introduction of a global carbon price, which are some of the assumptions in 1.5C models. His personal view was chances of achieving 1.5C were “extremely slim.”

Will voluntary pledges, revisited every five years starting in 2023 be enough to cut emissions and hold to the budget? It is the wrong question. That budget does not exist. Closer scrutiny of embedded systemic feedbacks reveal we'd blown though any possible atmospheric buffer zone by the 1970s and have just been piling on carbon up there every since.

The Atlantic today reports:

Recent science has indicated that warming to two degrees, still the stated international red line, might be catastrophic, creating mega-hurricanes and possibly halting the temperate jet stream which waters American and European farmland.

From that perspective, 1.5 degrees is an encouraging, ambitious goal. But it’s also a promise that costs negotiators nothing while indicating great moral seriousness.

Because here’s the thing: The math still doesn’t work. 2015 is the hottest year on measure. Because of the delay between when carbon enters the atmosphere and when it traps heat, we are nearly locked into nearly 1.5 degrees of warming already. Many thought the world would abandon the two degree target at Paris due to its impracticality.

Once we apply honestly science-based Earth system sensitivity at equilibrium, excluding none of the feedbacks and forcings that we know of, we discover we passed the 2°C target in 1978. To hold at 2 degrees we would need to bring CO2 concentration down to 334 ppm, not increase it to 450 as the Paris Agreement contemplates. To hold at 1.5°C we would need to vacuum the atmosphere even lower, to a level last seen some time before mid-20th century.

Outside of elite scientists such as those we've mentioned this past week — Anderson, Schellnhuber, Rockstrom, Hansen, Wasdell, and Goreau — few in Le Bourget seem to grasp some simple arithmetic. And so we are treated to the spectacle of fossil producers like India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and many of the underdeveloping countries demanding more time to fill up the available atmospheric space, when in reality there is none and hasn't been for quite some time.

Some say the UN is hamstrung by multilateral consensus, but voting would be no better. After the COP meeting in Durban, the UNFCCC adopted a traditional South African negotiating format to speed up decision-making and bring opposing countries together. The Guardian's John Vidal explains:

Zulu and Xhosa communities use “indabas” to give everyone equal opportunity to voice their opinions in order to work toward consensus.

They were first used in UN climate talks in Durban in 2011 when, with the talks deadlocked and the summit just minutes from collapse, the South African presidency asked the main countries to form a standing circle in the middle of hundreds of delegates and to talk directly to each other.

Instead of repeating stated positions, diplomats were encouraged to talk personally and quietly about their “red lines” and to propose solutions to each other.

By including everyone and allowing often hostile countries to speak in earshot of observers, it achieved a remarkable breakthrough within 30 minutes.

In Paris the indaba format was used by France to narrow differences between countries behind closed doors. It is said to have rapidly slimmed down a ballooning text with hundreds of potential points of disagreements.

By Wednesday with agreement still far away, French prime minister Laurent Fabius further refined the indaba by splitting groups into two.

“It is a very effective way to streamline negotiations and bridge differences. It has the advantage of being participatory yet fair”, said one West African diplomat. “It should be used much more when no way through a problem can be found.”

What may need to happen next year in Marrakech is that the COP host an indaba with experts both in the climate sciences and in biophysical economics.

What may hold out the best hope lies buried 20 pages in, at Article 4:

In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Article 5:

1. Parties should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1(d), of the Convention, including forests.

2. Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.

It is not yet clear whether integrated food and fuel sequenced permaculturally designed forests, composed of mixed aged, mixed species robust ecologies and maximum carbon sequestration though biomass-to-biochar energy and agriculture systems will be scaled fast enough, but these two articles could be the spark they need to spur investment.

As the clock ticked on towards end of day, the leader of the High Ambition group, Tony de Blum, introduced to the plenary an 18-year-old girl from Majuro who spoke of water gradually rising on three sides of her home.

"The coconut leaf I wear in my hair and hold up in my hand is from my home in the Marshall Islands. I wear them today in hope of keeping them for my children and my grandchildren — a symbol, these simple strands of coconut leaves that I wear. … Keep these leaves and give them to your children, and tell them a story — of how you helped my islands and the whole world today. This agreement is for those of us whose identity, whose culture, whose ancestors, whose whole being, is bound to their lands. I have only spoken about myself and my islands but the same story will play out everywhere in the world."

Rising Tides and Economyths

Rising-Tidegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 13, 2015

"A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats…."

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

"…and sinks everyone on shore."

OK, I added the coda to that cliche myself.  LOL.

After that Intro, you probably think this article is going to be about Climate Change, or maybe my Geotectonic Ocean Heat Transfer Theory.  It's not.  It's about Economics and Money, my central focus since I became aware of Collapse Dynamics in 2007-2008 with the collapse of the Investment Banks Bear Stearns & Lehman Brothers.

In some respects this article is also going to be a rehash of concepts I tried to clarify in The Money Valve 4 part Series around a year and a half ago or so now.  For those of you who missed the series, the links are The Money Valve, The Money Valve II, The Money Valve III & The Money Valve IV,

"A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats" has nothing to do with Tsunamis, Earthquakes or even the position of the Moon as it circles the Earth.  It's another one of those Economyths TM like Trickle Down Economics.

The aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats" is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy, and that economic policy, particularly government economic policy, should therefore focus on the general macroeconomic environment first and foremost. The phrase is commonly attributed to John F Kennedy,[1] who used it in a 1963 speech to combat criticisms that a dam project he was inaugurating was a pork barrel project.[2][3] However the phrase has been used more commonly to defend tax cuts and other policies where the initial beneficiaries are high income earners.[4]

The notion here is that if you hand out money to the already rich, the new money and new prosperity will eventually work it's way down to the bottom end of the society and they will be better off too.  Their Canoes will be higher up, even though they might not be as comfortable as the super yachts of the .01% who get dished out the money first.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d1/a5/88/d1a588173dc9e1794df1fe13ee74f6dd.jpg

Tide rises for this boat first

http://usercontent1.hubimg.com/12376698_f496.jpg

Tide is supposed to lift this boat also

Unfortunately, in reality in the world of Economics it doesn't work that way at all.

This Economyth has been long used by the Elite to justify their own wealth & privilege, and for a long time it was semi-believable also  I mean, today even Poor People have Smart Phones!  20 years ago poor people did not have smart phones!  Today even poor people in the FSoA have Used Cars!  100 years ago poor people did not have used cars!

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2013/01/modelx-2013-01-14-600.jpg

The .1% have "Green" EVs like this

http://www.pensacolafishingforum.com/attachments/f51/60566d1347646261-fs-used-diapers-beat-up-cars-goat-carts-old-tennis-shoes-car-jpg

Poor people have nasty polluting ICE cars like these

But at least they have carz now!  See?  The rising tide really DID lift all boats!

Well no, not really, because while the tide was rising up above ground with the production of all those smart phonez and carz, below ground the tide of fossil fuel energy that enabled the production of all those toys was receding.  The "trickle down" effect  of poor folks getting used carz after the new car buyer worked for a while as the energy moved its way downhill, but the poor folks never got the newest latest greatest Tesla or whatever the hot item of the day was, at least with the big ticket items.

Meanwhile, outside of the Heart of Darkness in the 1st World countries, the lives of the poor folks DEFINITELY are not getting better, in fact the Rising Tide for them is making things a whole lot worse these days in quite a few towns, like Jakarta for instance.

http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-BD757_INfloo_G_20140119014845.jpg

Wading to school & work every day is NOT an improvement!

All over the 3rd World, the poor people are starting to get the picture that the rising tide for the 1st World countries is not going to lift them out of poverty, in fact it is making them poorer and worse off by the day here in many ways.  Besides the climate and pollution problems endemic to these countries is the fact they are the first place the wars break out as western countries still seek to strip them of any resources still left there and as the locals fight over the scraps left over in brutal civil wars, useful to the Elite for ridding the planet of unecessary Useless Eaters.

Unfortunately for said Elite as well as all the poor and formerly middle class folks in Europe, these folks don't JUST stay in their home countries killing each other off, a decent percentage try to GTFO of Dodge and migrate into their home turf, where the rising tide is no longer helping their local poor people either.  The used cars may still be available for them to buy, however they are not very useful when they don't have money to buy gas or jobs to drive the used car to either!

http://crudeoilpeak.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Spain_oil_consumption_1965_2014.jpg

Spain hit Peak Oil consumption in 2007

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-c5NNh9wDjpI/UuGNV_YgA9I/AAAAAAAAKCE/fPeaHJ3KIAA/s1600/Italy_Oil_Gas.png

Italy hit Peak Oil consumption a little earlier, around 2005-6

https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/piigs-oil-consumption.png

For all the PIIGS, peak was around 2005, wih the Big Slide downhill beginning in 2007

Are people who are already getting poorer by the day going to be very welcoming of a huge influx of even poorer people who will compete with them for the few part time jobs still left in the shrinking oil economy?  OF COURSE NOT!

http://www.snopes.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/civil-war-in-sweden.jpg

Normally reserved and politically correct Swedes morph into Arsonists

Meanwhile, the Elite class wants to mandate resettlement of "qualified" non-terrorist migrants, to any neighborhoods except the ones they live in.  This idea of course floated as well as a lead balloon, so now the Elite are trying to buy off Turkey to fence them in over there.  Anybody who thinks the Elite have a real "Plan" here has been drinking conspiracy theory Kool-Aid for too long, there is no plan.  They are flying by the seat of their pants trying to do damage control while they get their Bunkers built in Argentina (Doug Casey), Panama (Bush Family Compound) and New Zealand (Steve Wozniak).

What should be pretty clear here by now is that with the "Rising Tide", the Elite are trying to keep their yachts floating by sinking everybody else's canoes and fishing boats.  This process of making 99% of the population incrementally poorer while making 1% of the population incrementally richer has been working for a while, since the 1970s really but accelerating since the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. in 2008.  In the Slow Boiling Frog paradigm, the average J6P didn't really notice this for the first 30 years or so of the downhill slide, but in the last decade it has become VERY apparent, and nowadays EVERYBODY KNOWS.

The tide rolled in from the Tsunami around 1750 with the invention of the Steam Engine accessing the thermodynamic energy of coal, but it really accelerated at the beginning of the 20th century acessing liquid fossil fuels with the invention of the Internal Combustion Engine.  That made the automobiles and the airplanes possible, without it the Wright Brothers would never have got off the ground at Kitty Hawk.

http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/pca/NoSubstitute.jpgAs with Porsche, "there is no substitute".

While electric power in rechargeable batteries might run a few cars, it won't run airplanes.  Creating enough biofuels to burn energy flying around at anywhere near the pace we currently use it would take all the arable land on earth, there would be nothing left to eat!  Airplanes, even the Gulfstream V Private Jets the Elite use to commute to conferences like COP21 are not long for this world, but to keep them flying as long as they can, the fuel has to be triaged off from the Useless Eaters and funneled ino their jet engines, by whatever means necessary.  If it takes bombing them back to the Stone Age, that is what will be done until it is no longer possible to do so, for one reason or the other.

It is not just about how much might still be left underground, it is about the economics of trying to yank it up and those economics are failing big time now.  In just this last week, not 1, but 2 hedge funds gated redemptions on the vast quantites of junk bonds issued out over the last decade to extractors of oil to keep the Happy Motoring lifestyle going just a little bit longer in the Heart of Darkness of the portion of the 1st World countries still solvent, which shrinks by the day, in real time you can watch it happening.  The Frog is not boiling so slow here you can't notice it, at least not if you are not already brain dead for one reason or the other.

What has already hit the poor folks in the 3rd World, what is hitting the Poor and Middle Cass of the 1st World as we speak is going to hit the Elite as well, in fact that also is going on as we speak here.  In just the last couple of days, two Hedge Funds gated redemptions from their investors.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the shocking news that the Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund was liquidating and had gated investors due to its "illiquid" portfolio, we had one simple prediction:

"What this means is that now that the dreaded "gates" are back, investors in all other junk bond-focused hedge funds, fearing they too will be gated, will rush to pull what funds they can and submit redemption requests, in the process potentially unleashing a liquidity – and liquidation – scramble within the hedge fund community, which will first impact bonds and then, if the liquidity demands continue, equities as well."

 

 

 

 

 

We had to wait just over 24 hours to be proven correct, because moments ago Dow Jones reported that the $1.3 billion Manhattan-based Stone Lion Capital, a distress-focused hedge fund, has just suspended redemptions after "substantial requests."

If you are in the least bit familiar with the Collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman, you should know by now that a collapse of firms this size with this large an investment portfolio does not stop with them.  They have counterparties to every trade, and when they try to liquidate en masse it forces the price discovery that is hidden until the day comes that everyone runs for the Fire Exit.

http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/lookandlearn-preview/N/N842/N842507.jpgKATY BAR THE DOOR!

It does look as of this weekend that the next run is commencing.  This time, it is not clear that the CBs have a big enough Bazooka to provide the liquidity and soak up the losses of all the Pigmen Gamblers out there betting with Other People's Money.

This is the correlary to Margaret Thatcher's criticism of Socialism, which is that sooner or later you run out of Other People's Money to spend on Social Welfare Programs.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B9rDkqgIYAE5Qcu.jpg

The problem with Capitalism of course is that eventually you run out of Other People's Money to Gamble with.  You can only fake this for so long by issuing out Irredeemable Debt, eventually EVERYBODY KNOWS that it is a scam.  When they do wake up to this, they are mighty pissed off too!  Cue the Gullotines and Lynch Mobs.

So what is the outcome of this?  MORE MAYHEM!  There is a Snowball's Chance in Hell that "World Leaders" could come together to find a solution, even if there was another solution beside a lot of DEAD PEOPLE.  All you as an individual can do on the Grand Scale is to try to distance yourself as much as possible from the mayhem, but this is of course quite difficult to do considering industrial civilization has infected just about all locations on Earth right now, and even if you are close personal friends with Richard Branson, you have a 100% chance of dieing if you try to escape Earth on one of his Rocket Ships.  They won't even make it to Mars, much less do interstellar travel for the next century at least, and probably not FOREVER.

money-burningSeeing as you are stuck here on Earth here in the first half of the 21st Century, you might as well enjoy the show, because this one is gonna be the Mother of all Shitstorms It's going to be the Greatest Bonfire of Paper Wealth in all of Recorded History, and the Crash & Burn of the first and only truly Global Civilization of Homo Industrialus on the Roller Coaster Ride Down from Population Overshoot to Population Undershoot.

Break out the Popcorn.

http://rs482.pbsrc.com/albums/rr184/Char2152/Cat%20Graphics/Animated-Cats-LitteronaRollerCoaste.gif~c200

46 Million Amerikans on the Breadlines

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on August 13, 2015

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Children Orphans Eating - Public Domain

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46 million Americans go to food banks, and long lines for dwindling food supplies begin at 6:30 AM

Those that run food banks all over America say that demand for their services just continues to explode.  It always amazes me that there are still people out there that insist that an “economic collapse” is not happening.  From their air-conditioned homes in their cushy suburban neighborhoods they mock the idea that the U.S. economy is crumbling.  But if they would just go down and visit the local food banks in their areas, they would see how much people are hurting.  According to Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser, 46 million Americans got food from a food bank at least one time during 2014.  Because the demand has become so overwhelming, some food banks are cutting back on the number of days they operate and the amount of food that is given to each family.  As you will see below, many impoverished Americans are lining up at food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning just so that they can be sure to get something before the food runs out.  And yet there are still many people out there that have the audacity to say that everything is just fine in America.  Shame on them for ignoring the pain of millions upon millions of their fellow citizens.

Poverty in America is getting worse, not better.  And no amount of spin from Barack Obama or his apologists can change that fact.

This year, it is being projected that food banks in the United States will give away an all-time record 4 billion pounds of food.

Over the past decade, that number has more than doubled.

And that number would be even higher if food banks had more food to give away.  The demand has become so crushing that some food banks have actually reduced the amount of food each family gets

Food banks across the country are seeing a rising demand for free groceries despite the growing economy, leading some charities to reduce the amount of food they offer each family.

Those in need are starting to realize what is going on, so they are getting to the food banks earlier and earlier.  For example, one food bank in New Mexico is now getting long lines of people every single day starting at 6:30 in the morning

We get lines of people every day, starting at 6:30 in the morning,” said Sheila Moore, who oversees food distribution at The Storehouse, the largest pantry in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one where food distribution has climbed 15 percent in the past year.

Does that sound like an “economic recovery” to you?

Just because your family doesn’t have to stand in line for food does not mean that everything is okay in America.

The same thing that is happening in New Mexico is also happening in Ohio.  Needy people are standing in line at the crack of dawn so that they can be sure to get something “before the food runs out”

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, who has been working in food charities since the 1980s, said that when earlier economic downturns ended, food demand declined, but not this time.

People keep coming earlier and earlier, they’re standing in line, hoping they get there before the food runs out,” Hamler-Fugitt said.

And keep in mind that we are just now entering the next global financial crisis and the next major recession.

So how bad will things be when millions more Americans lose their jobs and millions more Americans lose their homes?

Rising poverty is also reflected in the number of Americans on food stamps.  The following graph was posted by the Economic Policy Journal, and it shows how food stamp use has absolutely exploded in the five most populated states…

Food Stamp Recipients - Economic Policy Journal

I don’t see an “economic recovery” in that graph, do you?

Instead, what it shows is that the number of Americans on food stamps continued to rise for years even after the recession ended.

Sadly, things are only going to get worse from here.  Eventually, the kinds of things that we are seeing happen in places such as Venezuela will be coming here as well.  At this point, young mothers in Venezuela are sleeping outside of empty supermarkets at night in a desperate attempt to get something for their families when morning arrives

As dawn breaks over the scorching Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, smugglers, young mothers and a handful of kids stir outside a supermarket where they spent the night, hoping to be first in line for scarce rice, milk or whatever may be available.

Some of the people in line are half-asleep on flattened cardboard boxes, others are drinking coffee.

Most Americans cannot identify with this level of suffering, but it is coming to our country someday too.  Here is more from Reuters

I can’t get milk for my child. What are we going to do?” said Leida Silva, 54, breaking into tears outside the Latino supermarket in northern Maracaibo where she arrived at 3 a.m. on a recent day.

Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about how the number of Americans living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

In case you are wondering, that is not a sign of progress.

Just because you might live in a comfortable neighborhood that does not give you the right to look down on those that are suffering.

And when you add increasing racial tensions to the mix, it becomes easier to understand why there is so much anger and frustration in our urban areas.  According to Business Insider, the percentage of Americans that consider race relations to be in good shape in this nation has dropped precipitously…

Over the last two years there has been a 23% drop in the number of Americans who see relations between blacks and whites as “very good” or “somewhat good.”

Today, only 47% of Americans see black-white relations positively, according to a Gallup poll, the lowest it has been in the last 14 years.

The poll also showed that blacks see the relations more positively (51%) than whites (45%), but both percentages experienced sharp declines in the last two years.

All of the ingredients are there for civil unrest to erupt in cities all over the United States.

When the next major economic downturn happens, anger and frustration are going to flare to extremely dangerous levels.  At this point, it will not take much to set things off.

Desperate people do desperate things, and desperation is rising even now in this country.

So how did things get so bad?

Stupid decisions lead to stupid results, and very soon we will start to pay a very great price for decades of incredibly stupid decisions.

Hang the Pope?

Off the keyboard of Ugo Bardi

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Published on Resource Crisis on June 18, 2015

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Image above: an internet site with wild accusations against Pope Francis. That's, of course, just the work of an isolated crackpot, but, a hundred years ago, Pope Benedict XV was widely accused of "defeatism" and threatened with hanging when he requested to stop the "useless slaughter" of the first world war. Could something similar occur because of Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change?     P

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The Pope's encyclical on climate is out. I went through it, I think I agree with just about everything in it. From a scientific viewpoint, it seems to me flawless (at least after a first read). In terms of its ethical and human approach, it is even better. I don't see myself as a very religious person, but I think we badly need ways to overcome that peculiarly evil view of the world that sees each one of us as a mere economic agent, interested only in maximizing profits and accumulating capital. That can't be the way to run things on this planet and if we need a religion to tell us that we should do better than that, then welcome religion!!

This said, now what? It was Stalin who mocked the pope by asking how many division he could muster on the battlefield, but – apart from armored divisions – if I were a denier, I would feel dismayed. The beauty of the pope's intervention is that it demolishes right away one of the main stumbling blocks that prevented most people from understanding the gravity and the seriousness of the situation. So far, the forces of denial could paint the whole story of climate change as a silly idea concocted by an isolated group of crackpot scientists. But, now, not anymore. You may agree or not with the pope, but you can't ignore that he represents more than a billion Christians. Not an isolated group of crackpots, for sure. Clearly, the pope's encyclical has forever changed the terms of the debate.

On the other hand, if I were a climate science denier, I would also start thinking about what I could do to oppose the pope and his ideas. And, for this purpose, there are ways. We have, today, a giant mud-slinging machine in place that's called "public relations" (called propaganda in old times). This PR machine is truly an evil force that can destroy anything it decides to destroy; even the pope.

It is not farfetched. Something similar already happened about one century ago, in August 1917, during the first world war. The pope of the time, Benedict XV, appealed to "the heads of warring peoples" to end the "useless slaughter." He was not heard and, at least in Italy, the reaction of some exponents of the war party was that the pope should have been hanged.

So, it is not difficult to imagine ways to use the mud-slinging machine to paint the pope as feeble-minded, misguided, or perhaps much worse than that. Will we see again people asking for "hanging the pope", as it happened in 1917? (*) We can only say that the present situation is even more dramatic than it was at the time of the first world war. There is still time to avoid a climate disaster, but we still face a hard fight. What is sure, anyway, is that the pope's intervention is a big push in the right direction and a great hope for all humankind.

(*) Something like that seems to be already ongoing here.

Mechanistic Progress; Holistic Wisdom

Off the keyboard of td0s

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Published on Pray for Calamity on January 5, 2013

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Solving a problem relies first upon a trustworthy identification of the problem.  This can be easy with simple problems, like a flat tire.  It can be extremely difficult with complex problems such as climate change or the social ills of poverty and exploitation.  It should be a no brainer that complex societies create complex problems with not one but various strands of the root establishing any particular issue.  Most analysis that gets peddled by the architects and shills of the dominant culture is usually lacking in comprehensive diagnosis.  This was summed up famously by H.L Menken when he said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

In our culture, it is not uncommon for positive outcomes of a system or arrangement to be credited widely to the culture as a whole.  This is evident for me any time I try to have a discussion about the destruction wrought by a culture dependent upon industrialism and technology.  Those who have never questioned the society in which they live immediately point out medical advances, knowledge of the cosmos, communications technology, etc. as these pinnacles of human development and existence, as if these inventions and discoveries are the new floor for human existence which we can never again sink beneath.  These advances are attributed to democracy and capitalism, and the theme becomes, “Industrial capitalism may not be perfect, but it has given us a standard of living once unfathomable, and there is no conceivable reason to not only retain these developments, but to continually expand upon them.”  This is bundled in a word; “progress.”

There is a very intentional paradox that comes into play if the problems created by industrial civilization’s “progress” are trotted out.  Poverty for instance, is often blamed on the individual who struggles with it.  Staunch defenders of capitalism will nit pick the minutiae of decisions and habits of each individual poor person who ever dares associate their condition with overall social or cultural architecture.  The resounding lie is that anyone can rise on the economic ladder should only they work for it.  This lie is successful because on it’s face, it appears true.  Anyone could become rich.  But not everyone could become rich.  Not everyone could be middle class.  Capitalism requires a struggling underclass that can be forced through social conditions and laws into taking low wage work.  Low wage work is the majority of the work available within a capitalist paradigm, and thus it requires a majority of people to be trapped in a social condition which will leave them no option but to undertake this work.

Arthur Young, an English writer and pamphleteer of the mid and late eighteenth century wrote, “Everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”

Poverty is a necessary condition of capitalism.  How an individual navigates this poverty is in part up to them, but they do not create the condition, and they do not create the other social parameters which stem from it.

Social conditions from access to education, housing, and food, quality of medical care, level of policing in one’s neighborhood, race, perceived gender or sexual orientation, access to a clean environment, etc. will all play a role in the development of the individual from the time they are a newborn, or even in utero.  Black children raised in a poor urban community with a high crime rate, lack of grocery stores, and lower quality education will clearly have a disadvantage economically relative to upper middle class white children who attend higher quality schools and eat a more balanced diet.  This should be obvious.  When the disadvantages manifest as individual inability to escape poverty, or as criminal behavior or drug addiction, the blame is always place squarely and solely on the individual.

In Dr. Bruce K. Alexander’s paper, “The Roots of Addiction in a Free Market Society” it is argued that the dislocation caused by capitalist society is a major factor causing addictive behavior.  He writes:

[D]islocation is the necessary precursor of addiction. … [F]ree markets inevitably produce widespread dislocation among the poor and the rich. As free market globalization speeds up, so does the spread of dislocation and addiction.  In order for ‘free markets’ to be ‘free,’ the exchange of labour, land, currency, and consumer goods must not be encumbered by elements of psychosocial integration such as clan loyalties, village responsibilities, guild or union rights, charity, family obligations, social roles, or religious values. Cultural traditions ‘distort’ the free play of the laws of supply and demand, and thus must be suppressed. In free market economies, for example, people are expected to move to where jobs can be found, and to adjust their work lives and cultural tastes to the demands of a global market.

Alexander goes on to reference specific native tribes in North America removed from their lands and stripped of their cultures and he directly links their high incidences of addiction to this dislocation.  What his paper clearly lays out, is that social problems have social causes.

Whenever a person in the US snaps and goes on a rampage with a firearm, the society that created that individual is rarely implicated, and never implicated with any level of seriousness.  Such implication would have serious ramifications for the ego and identities of those who support the dominant culture.  It would also create a condition of responsibility society would then be compelled to address through altering it’s internal parameters.  To ignore the culture that creates the psychosis, nihilism, and other mental and emotional disfunction prerequisite to waltzing into an elementary school with a rifle and murderous intent is to essentially declare that the occasional massacre of children or movie patrons is OK, a necessary evil of our otherwise high and glorious “way of life.”  Instead of the culture taking responsibility for the monsters it creates, guns are blamed, whether an abundance or a lack.

The scope with which most social critique is attended is variable depending on the desired outcome.  A macro view is applied to hide the blood in the cracks, a micro view zoomed in on the individual whenever the culmination of a sociopathic culture of death results in an individual acting out this cultural psychosis in a socially “unproductive” way.  Should Adam Lanza or James Holmes had joined the Marines and manifested their violent sociopathy in an Afghan village or from behind the controls of a CIA drone attacking weddings in Pakistan or Yemen, we would likely never have known their names.  People would clap for them as they walked through an airport in their fatigues.

No doubt, the prescription psychotropic drugs both Lanza and Holmes were taking affected their behavior.  I do not think this is contrary to the thinking that the dominant culture generated their psychosis.  In fact, I think it proves the point.  More and more people in the US are taking prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.  The numbers are one in five men, and one in four women are taking these mind altering drugs.  If industrial civilization and capitalism provide such a wonderful “standard of living;” if this way of life is the pinnacle of human existence, why does almost a quarter of the population require a drug to make them feel better about it? Add in the number of people who drink alcohol or smoke marijuana, and it’s likely that a large majority of the population needs to achieve an altered state of consciousness on a regular basis merely to cope with the daily requirements leveled on their shoulders by this society.

But if we zoom out, we see happy shoppers and smiling twenty somethings taking “selfies” by the thousands.

If we cannot identify the cause of a problem, we will not likely solve the problem.  If depression, addiction, and poverty, or even cancer, pollution, and climate change are viewed with the improper lens, these problems with social and cultural roots will always be attacked at the individual level.  Individuals are blamed for their addictions.  Individuals are blamed for their poverty.  Individuals are even blamed for their cancer, and treatment is always about the individual, never prevention of the spread of toxins which cause it.  This blame will not always sound like condemnation, harsh and critical as the blame attached to poverty, because cancer crosses class and race demographics.  White grandmas get cancer, so we won’t be mean about it.  But illness prevention is offered through individual diet, individual exercise, never through a social change that bans coal fired power plants, the creation and ultimate incineration of plastic, or the use of sodium nitrite in meat.  Of course individuals can do their best to maintain their health and fitness.  But we cannot not breathe in the dioxin or glyphosate in the air.

Even in the case of climate change and ecosystem collapse, what are the solutions proffered by capitalists and purveyors of the dominant culture?  Individual reduction in consumption.  Individual bicycling.  With this focus on the individual behavior, corporate profits are safe and anyone who raises the alarm about ecological destruction and climate change can be attacked for their lifestyle impurity while the message itself drowns under screams and howls decrying the use of a car or computer by she who raised the alarm.  I suffer this madness regularly both as a writer who publishes my work online, and as a direct action activist who has used a pick up truck to transport the materials and people into forests where tree sit campaigns blockaded the construction of tar sands infrastructure.  Never mind the basic equation that I’d be willing to burn one million barrels of oil if it were able to prevent the shipment and ultimate burning of several hundred thousand barrels of oil per day for the next decade or two.  Never mind Jevon’s paradox and the fact that conservation of oil by one individual only results in extra consumption by another who takes advantage of increased supply.  The idea that the solution to a problem with global reach and social, economic, and cultural underpinnings rests entirely on the individual is patently absurd and intellectually lazy.

Striking one’s gaze in an intentionally overly broad or overly minute direction is an obfuscation employed regularly by the media, politicians, and others who have a vested interest not in solving problems, but in perpetuating them and profiting off of false solutions.  A recent study demonstrated that two thirds of the emissions responsible for climate change are generated by ninety companies globally.  According to the author of the study:

There are thousands of oil, gas, and coal producers in the world, but the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.

The implications of the study are fascinating and grabbing headlines, but I fear there is a reductionism in the reactions to the study, as a complex and global problem which has not one taproot but many roots that stretch and meander in various directions, is being described as something that can be halted by focusing on a busload of individuals.  To be sure, the power of these individuals is great, and I in no way want to diminish the negative impact of the decisions these people daily make.  Financing climate change skepticism, altering media coverage through advertising and influence, and regularly seeking investment for new coal, oil, gas, bitumen, and kerogen projects is absolutely disdainful behavior with globally deleterious ramifications.  These individuals and these companies should be pressured and punished respectively.  But lacking a cultural and social shift away from capitalism and antiquated profit and domination based definitions of “progress,” such pressure and punishment will ultimately prove ineffective at solving our penultimate problem.

We look at our bodies and we see flesh.  If we look at them under a microscope, we can see our tissues are comprised of cells.  A little more zoom and we can see the organelles within the cell.  Building those organelles are compounds comprised of molecules which are in turn built of atoms which consist of variously charged particles, themselves containing quarks and on and on possibly to infinity.  If we turn the device around and look outward we see that our planet exists within a solar system, spiraling around a galaxy, itself but one small galaxy housed within a universe of billions of galaxies which itself may be housed within a larger super universe that might be nothing but a quark within God’s cat’s butt.  This is all to demonstrate that scale and scope offer perspective, but the perspective is meaningless without context of where it resides within the whole.

Mechanistic thinking and reductionism was a product of the enlightenment period  In this time, the conceptualization of the Earth as a living entity was diminished.  It is commonly known that indigenous cultures looked to the Earth as a living entity with spirit and flesh and consciousness.  Even the ancient Greeks and Renaissance Europeans held such views, surprising as this may seem.  Of course, cultures varied in their interpretations of how this was to play into their behavior, but the predominant response was that as a living Mother, the Earth must be respected, and her resources must be harvested and utilized consciously and with care.

This view of a living universe, with even stars and planets as living and conscious entities was stripped away during the so called “enlightenment” period.  Carolyn Merchant writes eloquently on this transformation in cultural concept and it’s disastrous results for ecology:

Whereas the medieval economy had been based on organic and renewable energy sources–wood, water, wind, and animal muscle–the emerging capitalist economy was based on nonrenewable energy–coal–and the inorganic metals–iron, copper, silver, gold, tin, and mercury–the refining and processing of which ultimately depended on and further depleted the forests. Over the course of the sixteenth century, mining operations quadrupled as the trading of metals expanded, taking immense toll as forests were cut for charcoal and the cleared lands turned into sheep pastures for the textile industry. Shipbuilding, essential to capitalist trade and national supremacy, along with glass and soap making, also contributed to the denudation of the ancient forest cover. The new activities directly altered the earth. Not only were its forests cut down, but swamps were drained, and mine shafts were sunk.

The rise of Francis Bacon’s scientific method came hand in hand with new cultural understanding.  The Earth was dead, inert, without life or feeling.  The Earth and nature were impediments to an increase in human “standard of living.”  Belief systems which held the Earth to be a living and sacred mother to be tread upon delicately and with care were obstructions to progress and wealth accumulation.

Merchant continues:

The removal of animistic, organic assumptions about the cosmos constituted the death of nature–the most far-reaching effect of the scientific revolution. Because nature was now viewed as a system of dead, inert particles moved by external rather than inherent forces, the mechanical framework itself could legitimate the manipulation of nature. Moreover, as a conceptual framework, the mechanical order had associated with it a framework of values based on power, fully compatible with the directions taken by commercial capitalism.

The emerging mechanical worldview was based on assumptions about nature consistent with the certainty of physical laws and the symbolic power of machines. Although many alternative philosophies were available (Aristotelian, Stoic, gnostic, Hermetic, magic, naturalist, and animist), the dominant European ideology came to be governed by the characteristics and experiential power of the machine. Social values and realities subtly guided the choices and paths to truth and certainty taken by European philosophers. Clocks and other early modern machines in the seventeenth century became underlying models for western philosophy and science.

While civilizations based upon exploitation and expansion predate the thinking of Bacon, Decartes, and their contemporaries, these “enlightenment” thinkers founded a nihilism which became the cultural basis for an exponential increase in the rapacious destruction of the living Earth as well as the destruction of people’s and cultures which refused to adopt such methods of thinking and behaving.

This mechanistic view, this selective lensing of poverty, addiction, disease, and psychosis has the elites of money and privilege singing the praises of the dominant culture and maneuvering the levers of power for ever more of the behaviors and policies that are bringing about these maladies while never solving them.  Viewed as merely cogs in a grand social machine, individuals suffering poverty and addiction are told to shape up or be removed into a cage where defective cogs are isolated.

Humans globally now stand on the precipice of catastrophe.  Mechanistic approaches to food production have boosted short term yields at the expense of long term soil health and fertility.  Despite water now tainted with glyphosate and phosphorous and soil stripped of the organic material which provides fertility, scientists are genetically modifying plants and trees to continue raising production yields despite common sense screaming that dominating nature is shortsighted and priming society for an agricultural collapse.  Human attempts to manipulate nature under the mechanistic view that one part can be destroyed without affecting the whole continue to fuel climate change even as storms of record size and ferocity make landfall across the globe and as the jet stream is skewed bringing extremes of cold and hot into regions both south and north of their usual boundaries.

The ability to view the world holistically is not merely the ability of the grand scientist or mathematician who can compile and compute all of the variables in a system and spit out an accurate prognosis of a given issue or problem.  As our ecological and social problems beg for holistic approaches, society instead seeks more and more compartmentalized “experts”  who have spelunked into the deep caverns of their niche specialties.  Hence the economists who don’t understand peak oil, the business people who don’t understand climate change, and the doctors who treat the symptoms, never once seeking the causes of various diseases and conditions.

The holistic ability this era craves is wisdom, itself the product of patient and caring people, listeners and observers who understand where the value of science and logic both begin and end.  Wisdom is rare, it is quiet, it is humble, and thus is almost never even requested let alone respected by the dominant culture.

“Progress” is the grand value of the day.  It is to be unquestioned.  No endangered species or human culture is allowed to stand in the way of progress — not even if that endangered species is the human animal herself.  It was a demented and flat thinking culture that wrote the definition of progress which is now vaunted, and if there is any hope for humanity I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that this hope at least partially resides in a redefining of “progress.”  New widgets, wealth accumulation, and the bending of nature to the whims of the capitalist should not by default be considered progress.  More often than not these contrivances do not advance the comfort or position of but a minority of the human population, and they do so on the backs of the poor majority.  More often still, such “progress” is so destructive ecologically that were it not for mechanistic reduction hiding the costs from view, one would have to be a dedicated and shareholding huckster to call it “progress” at all.

If the survival of our species and the living web we depend on is a concern at all, we must begin to understand progress as peace, not production.  Progress must mean equality, not subjugation.  Progress must mean sustainable stewardship, not domination and control.  Most of all, we must foster the wisdom that we are all linked with each other and with the living world, and that we cannot manipulate each other or the world for a benefit in one capacity without likely causing a deficiency in another.  We need to praise the slow and thoughtful analysis which attempts to understand all parts of an issue.  Where the living planet is concerned, we must understand that our meddling has consequences that multiply themselves in seen and unseen ways, thus meddling should be kept to a minimum and undertaken with grave attention.

The scale of human industrial activity is so large and it’s rate of process so fast, that such a revolution in consciousness seems unlikely absent some cataclysm which halts the furious pace of capital flow.  To be sure, the cataclysm is waiting in the wings.  Whether or not the challenges it brings are met with true progress of the mind and being is to be seen.

High Expectations of Civil Unrest Coming

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on May 3, 2015

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96 Percent Of Americans Expect More Civil Unrest In U.S. Cities This Summer

Are you ready for rioting, looting and mindless violence in major U.S. cities all summer long?  According to a brand new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 96 percent of all Americans believe that there will be more civil unrest in America this summer.  That leaves only 4 percent of people that believe that everything will be just fine.  In this day and age, it is virtually impossible to get 96 percent of Americans to agree on anything.  So the fact that just about everyone agrees that we are going to see more civil unrest should really tell you something.  The anger that has been building under the surface for so many years in this country has finally started to erupt.  If you have been following my website for a while, you know that this is something that I have been warning about for a very long time.  Many people may have thought that I was exaggerating when I talked about the civil unrest that was coming to American cities.  But I was not exaggerating at all.  In fact, if anything I was downplaying it.  In the years to come, we are going to see things happen in our cities that are going to absolutely shock the world.

Ever since the violence first erupted in Baltimore, what has surprised me more than anything has been the level of hate that I am seeing all over the Internet.  I am seeing white people openly proclaim how much they hate black people.  I am seeing black people openly proclaim how much they hate white people.  I am seeing things said about the police that are absolutely horrifying.  Yes, there has been a tremendous amount of police brutality in this nation.  In fact, I have been one of the leaders in writing about it.  But most police officers are just trying to serve their communities the very best that they can.  So why is there so much hate for anyone that is a police officer these days?

If all of this hate continues to grow, it is going to eat our nation alive.  Why can’t we just learn to forgive one another, love one another and work together to rebuild our once great nation?

I know that what I just said is going to mostly fall on deaf ears.  But it needs to be said.

I wish that we could change course as a nation and avoid all of the rioting, looting and senseless violence that is coming.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, and neither does the rest of the country

Americans are bracing for a summer of racial disturbances around the country, such as those that have wracked Baltimore, with African Americans and whites deeply divided about why the urban violence has occurred, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

A resounding 96% of adults surveyed said it was likely there would be additional racial disturbances this summer, a signal that Americans believe Baltimore’s recent problems aren’t a local phenomenon but instead are symptomatic of broader national problems.

What happened in Ferguson set the precedent, and now what has happened in Baltimore has provided the spark for a national movement.  Similar “demonstrations” are popping up all over the nation, and a number of them have already turned violent.

For example, check out what happened in Seattle on Friday night…

Demonstrations turned violent in Seattle after night fell, with police reporting that protesters hurled rocks and wrenches at officers and damaged 25 vehicles. Police reported that an “explosive device” was thrown at officers, and a trash bin was pushed down a hill toward police.

Three officers were injured, two seriously enough that they were taken to a hospital, Seattle police said on Twitter. At least 16 people were arrested Friday night, police said.

And just down the coast in Portland, we also witnessed some very ugly violence…

One Portland, Oregon, police officer was injured by a protester, according to police. Portland Police reported on Twitter that protesters were throwing “projectiles” and “incendiary devices” at officers.

Police used pepper spray on protesters who tried to march on a bridge Friday afternoon and later sheriff’s deputies used stingballs, filled with tiny rubber balls, on protesters who were throwing chairs at police, according to the department.

These protesters are just copying what they saw in Baltimore.  And things would not have ever gotten so bad in Baltimore if the police had not been ordered to stand down and let the riots spiral out of control.  Now, we have learned that many police officers were so outraged by this that they want Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to immediately resign…

During a Baltimore-based radio talk show on Thursday, a man who identified himself as a Baltimore police officer named “Jeff” called into the program and said fellow police officers were organizing to push out the city’s mayor.

There is right now over 50 of us officers who are immediately asking for [Baltimore Mayor] Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to step down for what she did to us Monday,” the caller told WBAL radio host Derek Hunter.

The Baltimore mayor has denied giving “stand down” orders and blamed the media for misinterpreting her comments about providing “a space” for protesters to loot.

“Any other time in my career, if somebody were to throw a brick or a block at me, we would take immediate actions to pull our weapons on them. Numerous times on Monday when our officers were being injured, our commanders are telling us ‘stand down, stand down.’  You had no idea what it did to us as police officers to sit there,” said the self-described “21-year veteran” of the Baltimore police department.

Scenes of protesters attacking police were broadcast all over the nation, and it was inevitable that we would start to see “copycat attacks” against the police start to happen.  In New York City, a plainclothes police officer was shot in the head on Saturday…

A plainclothes New York City police officer was shot in the head and critically injured while in an unmarked police car Saturday as he and his partner attempted to stop and question a man they suspected of carrying a gun, officials said.

Officer Brian Moore and his partner, Erik Jansen, noticed Demitrius Blackwell “walking and adjusting an object in his waistband” when they pulled up on him in their car, exchanging words with him before he turned and suddenly fired at least two rounds into the car, police Commissioner William Bratton said.

“The man immediately removed the firearm from his waistband and turned in the direction of the officers and deliberately fired several times at the vehicle, striking Officer Moore in the head,” Bratton said at a press conference at a Queens hospital. The 25-year-old Moore was undergoing surgery but listed in stable condition.

We are seeing the same thing when it comes to racially-motivated violence.  This is something that we witnessed in Baltimore, and now all over the nation people are being attacked just because of the color of their skin.

For instance, one young man in California attacked a random passerby with a baseball bat

A Fontana man accused of beating a passerby with a bat in an apparently random attack in Rialto, leaving the victim with life-threatening injuries that he was not expected to survive, was charged Wednesday with attempted murder allegedly committed as a hate crime.

Jeremiah Ajani Bell, 22, was arrested Monday, a day after a daylight assault on 54-year-old Armando Barron, who was walking down the street when he was attacked.

So why did this happen?  Well, apparently it was because the passerby had the wrong skin color

“It appears he was targeting anybody who wasn’t black,” Rialto police Detective Sgt. Paul Stella said Wednesday.

We witnessed an even more disturbing example of racially-motivated violence just the other day in South Carolina

Witnesses and police say a mob of 60 black teens took to the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, to unleash attacks on unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians, all but one of whom were white.

And of course police in some areas of the country are also using unnecessary violence.  Just consider what happened to a group of peaceful protesters in Denver on Wednesday…

With much of the nation focused on the police abuse protests happening in Baltimore and New York City, the Denver police and their actions against a group of protesters on Wednesday has largely gone unnoticed.

But police were dressed for war. Paramilitary style. And they weren’t going home without using a few cans of pepper spray and filling up a paddy wagon.

Video that surfaced shows a group of about 100 protesters walking the streets of downtown Denver where they were met with line of motorcycle cops who forced the group on to the sidewalk.  One overzealous officer can be seen breaking away from the pack chasing down pedestrians, using his motorcycle as a large weapon.

It’s war on the streets of America, and this is only just the beginning.

As we enter the next major economic downturn, people are going to become angrier and even more desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.  The next few years are not going to be a good time to be living in urban areas.  Even if you only have peace and love in your heart, that doesn’t mean that you won’t get caught in the crossfire as the violence escalates.

For years, most of our politicians have been preaching hate and division.  For years, the mainstream media has been preaching hate and division.  For years, Hollywood has been preaching hate and division.

Now we have a nation that is deeply, deeply divided and that is filled with hate.

Things didn’t have to turn out this way, but they did.  I hope that you are getting ready for what comes next.

Privare: To deprive, to take, to rob.

Off the keyboard of td0s
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Published on Pray for Calamity on December 10, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

Listen to Part I of the Interview with td0s HERE

Human civilization is making a desert of the planet.  As the population grows and the western “standard of living” itself balloons while also spreading to more people around the world, the ecology of the planet is being devastated.  From mountain top removal coal mining, to deforestation, tar sands extraction, mega dam projects all the way down to suburban sprawl, lawn after lawn of Kentucky Blue Grass, and your local strip of parking lots and big box stores, the natural world is being killed.  It is being ripped up, burned, and paved over.  Scientists are declaring that right now, life on Earth is undergoing a period of mass extinction unlike anything seen since the Permian-Triassic mass extinction which killed upwards of ninety-five percent of all life.

Any sane, rational culture, would upon coming to a realization such as this – that their mode of being is self destructive – decide that their activities should be halted and rethought immediately.  Of course, the dominant culture under which we are subjugated is neither sane nor rational.  The dominant culture barely acknowledges the horrors it is leveling on the living beings of this world, and when it does acknowledge them, it both minimizes them and declares the solution to be more of its methodologies applied, not less.  Examples of this are claims that “green capitalism” or technology or geo-engineering will save us.  Somehow, more extraction, more consumption, and more domination are supposed to undo the damage done by extraction, consumption, and domination.

I agree with the thinkers who have laid the blame for this rapacious omnicide beyond the feet of capitalism, calling out the organizing structure of civilization itself which begat capitalism.  I agree also with those who indict the modes of thinking and views of the human self that begat civilization.  While these modes of thinking, which become cultures, and ultimately became the dominant culture have led to much to be woeful about, including patriarchy and racism, they also have manifested as a social, economic, and legal framework that is institutionalizing the desertification of the planet.

One of the manifestations of this flawed way of thinking and flawed understanding of ourselves, is the concept of private property.  Private property is the idea that one human can deprive all other humans of access to a particular tract of the Earth, that this human can enforce this deprivation with lethal force — whether self applied or called down from the hierarchy in the form of police and courts — and that this particular human not only has sole access to this tract of land and what it contains, but that the land and all that lives upon it can be destroyed at the whim of this person.

There are no limits to private property accumulation under the dominant culture.  The logic behind private property is merely that land can be purchased from a previous title holder with currency.  Thus, a person’s “holdings” are limited only by their accumulated wealth, and desire to own.  According to this logic, should one person accumulate enough currency to purchase all of the land everywhere, they would not be forbidden from doing so.  While this seems unlikely due to the cost in currency involved in this example, it is still within the logical framework of private property, acceptable.  Perhaps we’ll never see one person owning all of the land everywhere, but with a population of seven billion people on the Earth, would it be acceptable to have even one million people, or one billion people owning “everywhere?”  Do we find it ethically acceptable that a minority of the human population should have a protected right to deprive the majority of access to land, as well as a protected right to destroy living ecosystems?  Is it ethical — or sane — to allow the minority of the population this protected right because they have been skilled at playing the game of capitalism (or are the offspring of people who were?)

Land is often dubbed by those utilizing academic language as “natural capital,” as opposed to manufactured or physical capital (e.g. a factory or a tool.)  Land is obviously the most important form of “capital,” as it is the source of all raw materials, and is the source of all things necessary for life.  By allowing land to be owned, the culture allows owners to have controlling access to the resources all people and non-humans need to survive.  This subjugates all non-owners into a state of dependence upon the owners.  This dependence is then channeled into wage labor, rent, and other methods by which owners exploit non-owners, siphoning away any meager wealth the non-owner class ever comes to possess.  Of course, this only further enriches the owner class, who then can acquire further land holdings, and escalate the rate at which they can exploit non-owners to create for themselves a comfortable life devoid of labor.

Again, land is the source of all the necessities of life, so further and further accumulation of land is in reality, an increasing rate at which the culture says one person has a right to deprive others of life.  An “owner” holding claim to hundreds or thousands of acres of land while multitudes of people live in crowded slums who must labor for pittance, only to turn this pittance over to landlords and those who control the food supply, is a form of violence.  It’s a hostage situation.  Work for us, or starve.  Work for us, or take your chances on the streets with the police.  For surely, without the violence of the police or the owner, these huddled masses living in the mega slums of the world would span outwards.  More accurately, many of these people wouldn’t be living in slums to begin with, as large portions of the global poor were subsistence farmers before their traditional lands were seized by transnational corporations and state governments.

Essentially, this all boils down to the rarely uttered truth that the rich are allowed to make a claim the poor or not.  This makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

Of course, like any discussion of the need to radically adjust our social organizations, discussions about the exploitative nature of private property often cause “first world” people who have — or are working towards — meager holdings of property themselves to seize up.  Cries — often contradictory — of fascism and communism quickly ring forth.  People are so terrified that what’s being referenced is their property.  They fear that what little they have worked hard for while “playing by the rules” will be sliced and diced and handed to five different families comprised of lazy people who want a handout.  This generally renders the petty-owner rarely willing to explore the notion of private property and it’s global ramifications.

Part of the wall that gets thrown up by petty-owners and other defenders of private property is the false claim that private property leads to stewardship, where commonly held land leads to overuse and degradation.  Of course, examples of both could be bandied about.  Someone will scream, “tragedy of the commons,” despite that old myth having not only been thoroughly debunked, and even despite it being a complete fabrication.  Then we’ll hear about starving pilgrims who didn’t put any effort into farming until they had their own land, or about the lot down the street that is full of trash and old tires.  What is lost in the fray is the total calculation of what is lost and what is gained by society as a whole with either private land ownership, or communal access.   Rarely acknowledged is the entire enforcement arm of the state that is necessary to make a system of private property even possible to being with, or the poverty generated by depriving people of access to land, or economic advantages gained by those to elect to strip mine their land as opposed to preserving it.

Let’s here acknowledge a basic truth; property is a convention.  It’s an imagined status subject to the humans perceiving it.  Property is a social agreement, and social agreements are tools, nothing more.  They are designed to make life easier for humans within the society in which they live.  Stop signs are a social agreement.  Lines painted on parking lots, or the maze of nylon straps herding people like mice at airport security screening stations are social agreements, likewise.  All of these are tools to make existing in large groups flow with a bit of organization, to prevent quarrels and gridlock.  However, all of these are discarded at will when the situation calls for it.  In the middle of the night, when there is no traffic and you can clearly see in all directions that you are the only person at an intersection, rolling through a stop sign — while still making you a target of the asinine police — has no social consequence.  Parking in the middle of two spaces in an empty Post Office parking lot on Sunday when you quickly run in to drop a letter in the box has no social consequence.  Neither does ducking beneath the nylon straps at the near vacant airport.  The point, is that social arrangements are tools to be picked up and put down again as the situation dictates.  Thoreau once wrote, “Men have become the tools of their tools.”  I think it’s apt to meditate on this sentiment in this regard.

Private property is an agreement with your community, at least, on the surface.  Ideally, private property demarcates which land is lived upon by which family, and who can decide how best to maintain that property or attain sustenance from it’s resources.  This can work out for a small community, allowing various families a bit of privacy, and the ability to undertake labor efforts that produce results in the long term.  People who plant fruit trees as seedlings, of course want to eat the fruit years down the line.

When does this tool, this social arrangement, lose efficacy?  If a tool is designed to improve the lives of the people within a society, should it not be abandoned if it is no longer meeting those ends?  If a tool is being used to exploit one group of people for the benefit of another group, what good reason does the exploited group have to respect the tool or its implications?  Why should the poor respect the property of the rich?

We should also consider what role consent plays in the application of any social agreement.   After all, if consent is not the binding factor in a social arrangement, then only force remains.  If your society is bound by force, then your society is not only unethical, it is also doomed.  The more people who come to find themselves on the losing end of a social arrangement, the more force it will take to keep them from overwhelming the social order through disobedience to its tenets.  The more people a social arrangement impoverishes and starves, the more police it will take to keep these people from seizing private property and from stealing the necessities of life from the owner class.  Is this not evident now even in the “wealthy” west?  The police are more militarized more violent, and petty “crime” is on the rise.  The Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrated this perfectly when participants were assaulted by law enforcers for acts which included attempts to exist in public space, attempts to occupy abandoned “private” space, attempts to prevent evictions of renters from homes, attempts to grow food in both public and private space, etc.  Why should anyone respect their society if that society values property more than it does people?  With twenty four empty houses for every homeless person in the United States, it is undeniable the rulers of this society are far more concerned with the sanctity of private property than the health and dignity of human beings.

This scenario takes us far beyond a family and their half acre lot in the suburbs, or their ten acre homestead in the country.  As land is the source of all wealth and survival, the massive application of force to maintain private property as it is currently understood and distributed, is tantamount an attempt to either snuff out or enslave the poor and the middle class by the wealthy.  They hold privileged access to the source of all wealth and life, they claim the right to destroy what they hold at will for short sighted gains, and they claim the right to destroy the life giving ecological systems of the planet.  This is a mode of thinking that needs vast reworking now.

Fears of redistribution often find the petty bourgeoise allying themselves with the owner class.  The holder of a small farm, fearing for their years of labor, sides with the corporation that claims ownership and control over hundreds of thousands if not millions of acres, and that predominantly uses that claim to destroy the land for profit.  This odd pairing — the small scale permaculture farmer siding ideologically with the mountain top removing coal extraction corporation — needs severing.  To accomplish this, I think we need to examine two prongs of the property concept; the chain of ownership and the responsibility of ownership.

How does one come to “own” land?  They buy it.  As their labor afforded them the currency to do so, owners cling to their private property claim as a direct result of that toil.  This is not unreasonable.  But as to the logic of purchasing land, it must be asked, where does the seller get the right to sell it?  Of course, usually the seller bought the land themselves from a previous seller, but extend this as far backwards as the chain of ownership goes.  Who was the first owner?  If ownership is valid today because current owners purchased from previous owners, then their ownership is an extension of the first claim to ownership, and is thus, only as valid.  This takes us to primitive accumulation, on which Marx states:

“The whole purpose of primitive accumulation is to privatize the means of production, so that the exploiting owners can make money from the surplus labour of those who, lacking other means, must work for them.”

Essentially, primitive accumulation is the first taking of land from common accessibility and enclosing it in private hands.  The application of this process in England from the mid seventeenth century up through the nineteenth is referred to as the “enclosure movement.”  On this, George Orwell wrote:

“If giving the land of England back to the people of England is theft, I am quite happy to call it theft. In his zeal to defend private property, my correspondent does not stop to consider how the so-called owners of the land got hold of it. They simply seized it by force, afterwards hiring lawyers to provide them with title-deeds. In the case of the enclosure of the common lands, which was going on from about 1600 to 1850, the landgrabbers did not even have the excuse of being foreign conquerors; they were quite frankly taking the heritage of their own countrymen, upon no sort of pretext except that they had the power to do so.”

On the notion of private property, Orwell also once wrote that:

“In the stage of industrial development which we have now reached, the right to private property means the right to exploit and torture millions of one’s fellow creatures. The Socialist would argue, therefore, that one can only defend property if one is more or less indifferent to economic justice.”

Of course, we know all of this.  We know that in the western hemisphere, claims to own the land go back only a few hundred years at most, and that this claim as a legal construct backed by the force of the state is founded upon the genocide of the natives of this continent.  We know that the people who lived here were cheated, raped, and killed so that the value of the resources here could be appropriated by a handful of private individuals, whether monarchs or mercantilists.  This process has not been limited to Europe or North America, but has fully spawned itself across the globe (and is in fact, still unfolding.)  The titles the middle class hold in their hands are an extension of that ongoing genocide against the indigenous, as well as a founding plank in the genocide of the global poor and the web of non-human species who are driven to extinction daily.

Our titles and deeds are in reality, a bit of magic; they are pomp and circumstance designed to make the abominable respectable.  They are, we can clearly elucidate, an invented justification of a historic and ongoing atrocity and also a contemporaneous deprivation of the masses of their birthright to survive on what the planet willingly gives.  To be sure, inventing a social arrangement for the purpose of improving the quality of life for those who consensually enter into the arrangement, is acceptable.  To uphold the arrangement with force and violence as a method of exploiting other humans for their labor as well as the natural world for it’s bounty, is disgraceful.

It is also stupid.  It cannot last.  The non-owners who are exploited by this social arrangement will grow in number, as not only is the population growing while available land is not, the price of land is increasing due to this supply versus demand equation while the value of an individual’s labor is shrinking for the same reason.  This in effect, prices out more and more people from becoming even a petty part of the owning class.  Inversely, it enriches the owning class, whose wealthiest members can acquire more and more private property.  This self reinforcing loop portends the greater and greater impoverishment of the masses.  The non-owner class will only grow as the owner class entrenches itself and hides behind an ever more militant and violent police force.  The only apt description for such a scenario is a “powder keg.”  The only outcomes before us are either a violent social upheaval, or massive repression of the poor the likes of which hasn’t been witnessed in the “first world” west in a century.

Within the dominant culture, the common understanding of ownership is that an owner has a right to dispense with whatever it is they own in whatever manner they see fit.  This view clearly creates a hierarchy of owner over owned.  When slavery was legal (NOTE: Slavery is technically still legal, as far as prisoners are concerned) slave owners were seen as having the right to dispense with their slaves as they desired, whether this meant raping them, beating them, killing them, or merely working them to the bone.  Slaves ceased to be people with a sentience and will all their own, but instead were reduced to being “property.”  Of course, many people saw this arrangement as repugnant, and worked tirelessly to see it done away with.  But always there were “owners” claiming their “rights” to the “property” they had “purchased.”

This reasoning is applied to land and all that lives upon land as well.  Owners believe they have a right to dispense with their land as they so desire, whether that involves something positive like clearing invasive plants and seeding native flora, or something negative like clear cutting all of the trees present and bulldozing the top soil in an effort to strip mine for bitumen.  When the right of the benevolent owner is defended, so is the right of the malevolent owner.

To be granted a claim over a parcel of land meaning that one has a right to destroy it, is an absurd social construct.  If land is the source of all that we need to live, does it not make more sense for societies to not grant “rights” of disposal, but rather responsibilities of upkeep?  Would this not be a great leap towards achieving a social arrangement that is acceptable to the benevolent owner (now more of a steward) while preventing the malevolent owner from destroying what all of us needs, and what all future generations will rely upon?

If the people who comprise a clan, tribe, commune, what-have-you, decide that they would like to subdivide their landbase amongst themselves for the betterment of all their members, would it not make the most sense for these people — whom we assume have come to a consensus on this particular proposal — to enter into an agreement concerning responsibility for the tract on which they live so that the quality of the landbase isn’t degraded?  Assuming that agreements such as these are not permanently fixed, and that as conditions change, be they due to increasing or decreasing population, alteration in climate patterns, etc, how these people utilize their land and live together upon it has the potential to vastly change over the years.  Why then would anyone in such a community want to grant people a “right” to destroy a parcel that may not be stewarded by that same person years on?

One of the great tragedies of civilization’s forceful domination of the North American continent (among others) is that many of the peoples already inhabiting what is now the U.S. and Canada had very wise and astute philosophies and practices concerning respect for the land, and how to live with each other and nature harmoniously.  The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations contained this language:

“In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.”

We commonly understand this thinking today as “seventh generation sustainability,” which is a reference to the insistence that many indigenous peoples had that their ways and deeds must not negatively affect their children to come seven generations out.   It’s no wonder then, that the natives of North America did not believe in land ownership.  Of course, they had homes, they had tribal territories, but they did not believe that the land that gave them life was owed by them, or even, ownable.  It takes a particular cultural way of thinking to believe that owning land is an objective reality.  The dominant culture is striving to allow the private ownership of more and more, from public space, to public utilities, to ideas, to computer data, to DNA, to genes, and now even sunlight and rainfall.  All of this is part of a cultural drive to dominate.  The more that can be “owned” the more that the population can be controlled, as they will be dependent upon the owners for not only a place to sleep at night or food to eat, but water to drink and air to breath.

Defenders of private property who admit that yes, private ownership can go too far in cases like the state claiming to own the rain or the sunshine, will still defend (their) ownership of land by claiming that the best way to encourage stewardship, is to allot parcels to private individuals.  Their thinking is that a person will have no interest in bettering a place if they will not be able to claim the spoils of that betterment at some future time.  While this is a reasonable perspective, it is presumptuous to assume that the only incentive to improve land is to own it.  Plenty of people clean and improve their public parks because it’s a space they enjoy spending time.  Others clean the sides of highways of litter merely because it’s unsightly on their commute.  More significantly, is it not ownership of land that drives stewardship, but dependence upon land?  This is key.

How many homeowners in the US have a deed or title to a parcel of land in a suburb, small town, or city?  How many of these people actually derive their sustenance from this land?  What does their stewardship look like?  I think it is fair to say that in the overwhelming majority of these cases, people preserve the look of the property, especially of the dwelling that sits upon it, so they can preserve its economic value.  This means that people plant non-native lawn grass, they coat it in chemicals to keep it green, they kill weeds with glyphosate, they destroy the insect and bird population through the elimination of wild local plants, they cut down trees for sunlight, they build constructions out of non-natural and often toxic materials, etc, ad nauseam.  Even negating corporate holdings, ownership is not bringing us mass stewardship, it is bringing us a desert of lawns.

The current paradigm has the necessities of life coming from vast private land holdings globally which are then then shipped into population centers.  Meanwhile the majority of petty-land owners are actually rendering their land sterile, which in turn keeps them dependent upon those who comprise the wealthy owner class.  What we should strive for is a paradigm in which people depend upon their land, and come up with consensual social arrangements within their small societies as to how they feel best suited to live upon it..

This may only be possible with a cultural shift that first, or possibly simultaneously, reawakens people to the notion that humans cannot own the Earth because they are of the Earth.  Humans are born of the Earth and sustained by the Earth’s systems.  We owe the Earth deference and respect.  How we perceive the land under our feet, the beings who coexist here with us, the water that is the essence of life, will affect our actions.  Modes of thinking that lead to destruction, exploitation, domination, and ecocide are flawed at the core.  If your ideas and constructs have the potential to bring about mass extinction and desertification, then what possible sane explanation could you give for clinging to those ideas?

Whether we believe we can buy and sell and dispose of land as we please, or believe that we are a part of a living and sentient world with which we can enter into mutually beneficial relationships, these beliefs are not objective realities.  What is objective, are the results of the actions we take.  If our beliefs are rapidly disposing of other life forms into the dust bin of extinction, while bringing us ever closer to our own apocalypse, then our beliefs are psychopathic and suicidal.  If our beliefs have us concerned for the least among us, concerned for the unborn and the non-human, and ultimately result in our being able to live on this planet for generation upon generation to come, then there is no reason to abandon them for modernity, productivity, visions of accumulation, or myths of progress.

The cascading collapse of both civilization and the ecology of the planet are not likely to be stopped.  As conditions worsen and become more stressful, there will be no shortage of false answers, again, usually claiming that we haven’t dominated enough, or controlled enough.  What survival looks like will depend on our ability to adapt, and our ability to adapt will depend on our ability to shed vestigial ideas and modes of organization that have long grown malignant in our minds.  I don’t expect this process to be anything other than horrifying, but if there is any hope it starts with us realizing which tools we need to put down.

The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

Off the keyboard & camera of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014

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kuroda-laughingIn this week where the Japanese have gone FULL RETARD in their Monetary Policy and Vlad the Impaler gave a Speech which actually made some political sense, making our local Politicians look like the hacks they are, it’s tempting to use my Sunday Brunch space once again to look at the Big Picture, but I also want to follow up on my first SNAP Card Gourmet episode and get rolling on the great experiment of eating on a SNAP Card budget.  So for a while here, the Sunday Brunch offering on the Diner will be all Food Related, and I’ll save ranting and analyzing the ongoing Geopolitical and Economic Clusterfuck for other dishes served up during the week.

Getting rolling on the SNAP Card Budget isn’t easy, particularly for the individual.  It’s a bit easier for a family, because you can buy more Bulk purchases, which drive down the cost quite a bit.

Eggs are an EZ example here.  If I buy eggs by the Dozen (about as much as I will usually eat of eggs in a week), around here they come in around $3/Dozen right now.  However, if I buy 5 Dozen, I get them for $2/Dozen, a HUGE 50% savings! The same is true for a 5lb bag of Potatoes vs a 20lb bag, etc. So you want to buy in bulk as much as possible, especially for Staples that have a long Shelf Life.

In order to get started on this as an Individual, my first week I am going to focus on buying Staples in medium bulk, which will insure I won’t go the least bit hungry the first couple of weeks, but it will be a mighty limited Diet overall, eating pretty close to the same damn things every day which gets very boring.  Boring is not the only problem though, you don’t want to eat the same stuff every day because to capture all the vitamins you need, variety is important.  However, for 2 weeks you can eat the same stuff over and over again and not die from Scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency. The important Criteria for Week 1-2 is to have plenty of food for the period, keep the price down below $25  to save for better foods and more variety, and begin some storage of longer lasting foods to improve variety as time goes by.

DAY 1: JP Morgan Chase just dropped $140 on my Newly Issued SNAP Card!  I recently lost my job as a NASA Engineer after they shut down our SETI program.  I have applied for a job with Richard Branson at Virgin Galactic to develop Space Tourism for the 1%, but haven’t heard anything yet on my Resume.  At least I can EAT this month though! Thank you Jamie Dimon!

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My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

Until Richard gets back to me, my Food Purchases for the next 2 weeks are…

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

For the next 2 weeks, I will be eating 2 meals a day, a Breakfast with Eggs, Meat, Potatoes & Onions, and Dinner of Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausage or Chili with Rice.  The only real variety will be in how I prepare the Breakfasts, it is going to be very boring 2 weeks of eating.  However, it is only costing me $52 out of a $70 Budget, and I should have plenty of Potatoes and Eggs left at least, and possibly other leftovers as well.  So $18 will be conserved in this initial period.

If hungry between the Breakfast and Dinner, I will simply eat a couple more eggs or some leftover Spaghetti.

So now, let’s have some COOKING FUN with this simple set of ingredients!  I’ll start with the eggs, since there are a lot of ways to prepare them and even if you don’t have a lot of variety here in ingredients, at least you can make things different from day to day with some different preparations.

 photo PICT0600_zpsed9e854f.jpgMy personal favorite for the Morning Breakfast is very traditional, 2 Eggs Over Easy, Breakfast Meat of some type and Hash Browns.  If you can’t get hold of breakfast sausage, you could always substitute Squirrel or Earthworms for Breakfast Meat of course. For the Hash Browns, you use leftover Baked or Boiled potatoes usually, but you can also just Nuke a Potato in the microwave and then throw it on the skillet with some onions, garlic and peppers. Usually to have some potatoes available for hash browns,  I let the potatoes and garlic slow cook for 3 hours along with a couple of soy sauce packages and a ketchup package all scarfed up for free and in the larder here.  I’m not using any of my preps I BOUGHT, but I will use freebies I have collected at the beginning to add some flavor to this stuff until I can afford some decent spices.

I like Over Easy because you can thicken up the Yolk to make it like a nice Sauce if you don’t break the yolk in the cooking, which of course is something of a challenge depending on your cooking utensils.  When I first started cooking Over Easy Eggs, I would drop both in the pan, cook over medium flame until the egg white firmed up, then split them with the spatula and flip each half individually.  Here is a demonstration of this basic method, which is very Low Class overall as cooking technique goes.  lol.

After a few months of making my own breakfasts though when I was a kid, I decided I should get COOL and flip both eggs in the pan without a Spatula like I saw the Pros doing on TV.  Needless to say, I messed up numerous times doing this, and even now it is still a bit of a challenge to catch the eggs just right so the yolks don’t break on you when you do it.  However, if you really want to impress your girlfriend with how good a cook you are, if you pull this off flawlessly its just about as good for getting laid as playing the Electric Guitar. LOL. Thank God I am Left Handed, because with my now Semi-Paralyzed Right Arm, I couldn’t flip an egg with that one to save my life, and impressing Babes with cooking technique is the least of my concerns these days. LOL.

Obviously, there are many other ways to prepare your eggs, scrambled, omelletes, soft or hard boiled etc, but right now I’m limited on both type and amount of ingredients inside the SNAP budget, so you can’t do too much here.  I’m looking forward to buying some Cheese, but I want to buy in bulk for this so I am saving up for it.  In next week’s episode, I will have some more interesting egg breakfast preparations than just Eggs Over EZ.

The two main Lunch/Dinner meals are equally simple and basic, though with the Spaghetti and Meatballs/Sausage there are a couple of tricks to extend out your limited meat supply.  I’m taking 2/3 of the 1 lb of ground beef to make Meatballs, and the other 1/3 I will brown with onions and garlic to go in the Chili.

To extend the number of Meatballs I can make from 2/3rds of a pound, I smush in 2 raw eggs and some seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 a cup.  This also makes the meatballs more flavorful and they have a nicer texture.  The first order of bizness is to brown all the meat in a skillet, and then drain off and conserve the fat.  Here’s that proceedure:

After you have browned and drained the fat off the meat, set it aside and then saute up whatever veggies you have to put in to the Sauce and Chili.  Veggies up here are fairly pricey, although I often get them free from friends who do gardening.  However, since many SNAP card recipients don’t have access to fresh veggies friends grow, I am not going to use those in the accounting here and just stick to what I can afford on the SNAP card budget.

Once the meat and veggies have been initially prepared, all that is left to do is throw everything into the slow cooker and let simmer around 3-4 hours.  If you do have some spices in the larder, add your favorites here!  Oregano, or Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme!

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

Once you have your Spaghetti Sauce and Chili cooked up, you transfer it to a container and drop it in the fridge.  Each day all you cook up the rest of the week is some Rice or Spaghetti, ladle out a helping into a small pot to heat it up and then pour it over the carbs.  Alternatively, you can cook all the spaghetti and rice at once also, and then make portions for each day in Microwaveable containers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis gets us through Week 1 & 2, and there should be leftovers of some things at the end of the 2 weeks, we’ll see how much.  In Week 3, I’ll buy some more bulk goods and try to stay under $30.  With the $52 spent in weeks 1&2, that is total $82, leaving me around $58 to finish out the month with.  I should be able to put together some nicer meals in Week 4 with the savings.  What they might be depends very much on what I see On Sale in my visits to the Food Emporiums, so I can’t predict at this point.

https://s.yimg.com/ea/img/-/100127/homeless-family-400x300-15m069s.jpgOne final note as far as Doom is concerned.  Obviously, this paradigm assumes a kind of Bizness as Usual, with food available at markets and money that functions to buy it.  I am NOT here developing cuisine and recipes to live on if you cannot get hold of any food at all this way.  The objective here is to simply see how little you can spend each week on food in the BAU paradigm currently operating to help keep your overall expenses down.  it is also applicable only in 1st World countries, much of the stuff you might currently still buy simply is not available in 3rd World countries.

There are many other things you want to do to reduce total expenses also, such as moving into smaller living spaces, carpooling with friends and neighbors and limiting and consolidating trips you take that require Gasoline to accomplish.

Probably the most important way to reduce expenses is to get together with others and pool resources, such as moving in with friends or relatives, or creating buying cooperatives amongst people who live separately.

My current goal with this project is to see if I can reduce my total monthly expenses to what a Minimum Wage worker earns each month, around $1200, for a yearly income gross around $14,400.  Hopefully I can get under that so I can have Savings besides.  I will be including my monthly communications bill in this total, for my phone and internet connection, because really it is not possible to live in this economy without these things and have a semi-normal existence.  Without good communications connections, if you are a laid off IT worker for instance from NASA SETI, you can’t post your Resume on the net or have a cell phone for Richard Branson to call you at.  These are basics in the society we live in now, if you fall so far off the cliff you lose access to this, your downhill spin to homelessness will be very rapid.

As you can see from the Videos & Pics, my package of ground beef made 9 Meatballs, and I divided the sausages into 3 parts each, for a total of 15 sausage sections.  Total of 24 Meat servings, which I divided into 3 pieces each serving.  Each meal comes in around 1000 calories, and the breakfasts similarly at 1000 calories for 2000 calories/day.  Both meals are very filling, and more than I really need, so actually I end up with some leftovers.

http://www.lousfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/0076026300029_500X500.jpgThe other main Dinner meal for the 2 week initial period is very EZ, and is good for storage too, the Bear Creek Chili is dried food requiring no refrigeration.  I ended up just using one of the packages, so the other package will be used next week and reduce my expenses for week 3.  All you do to prepare this is add water to the mix and throw it in the slow cooker, brown the remaining ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic and add that to the mixture with a can of tomato paste, then ladle it over rice to serve.  Hopefully you know how to make rice.  You boil it or steam it.  Duh.  Make as much as you need to fill out your calorie requirement for the day.

With my leftovers, all I am going to buy for next week is some stew meat $6, a large block of cheddar cheese $7 so I can make cheese omelletes, baked potatoes with cheese etc, butter $4 sour cream $2.50, flour $2.50 and cooking oil $2.  $24 total.  Together with the $52 from the first 2 weeks, that is $76, leaving me $64 to finish out the month.  I will make my first “gourmet” meal during this week, and buy more staples to fill out the larder and make more variety possible in month 2.

It is worthwhile to note this is much harder to get going for a single person than for 2 people living together.  You can get to more variety quicker with 2 people.  Also worth noting is that you can supplement a lot from Food Pantries if you qualify, but in the first month I am not considering that part of it.  Since I do not qualify for food pantry assistance in reality, I can’t get one of these boxes of food, but I know what goes in them since I volunteer at a Food Pantry.  So next month I will also buy what goes in a Pantry Box but not include what I spend on it in the food budget.

In SNAP Card Gourmet 003 next week, we will make a simple Stew and Cheese Omelettes, and maybe a Surprise Meal as well.  See you then!

RE

The Food Pantry Chronicles

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 7, 2014

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Day 1: Thursday, November 6, 2014

FoodBank1As I mentioned over in The SNAP Card Gourmet thread, in conjunction with trying to live on a Poverty Level Budget, I am also Volunteering at one of the local privately run Food Charity Pantries on Thursdays.  The Pantry is staffed by Volunteers and is Open Mon-Thu from 1-5PM.

It is housed in an old building with no markings, you have to know it is there and what it is.  It is on an oddly shaped triangular piece of property across from a defunct rail line in Palmer AK.  I’ll get some pics eventually, but for the first day I didn’t want to put off any of the people by shooting pics.  It was at one time a home, then a local grocery store for a while, at least that is what one of the veteran volunteers told me.  I don’t know how long it has been operating as a Food Charity Pantry.

The sources of Food come from Da Federal Goobermint, local Farmers, local Food Stores that donate some stuff, and Food Drives done by various churches and organizations like the Boy Scouts etc.  The Mormons dropped on us several ENORMOUS bags of powdered milk and flour and dried beans that have to be divied up into individual portions.

There are regulations of course that have to be followed from Da Goobermint on handing out the Goobermint stuff, there appears to be more discretion in distributing out the stuff that is donated by private organizations.  For Da Goobermint stuff, you can come in once a month, and by no means could you feed yourself on just this stuff.  However, observing the size of the boxes and what went in them given to the patrons who came in today, in total I think you probably can make it through 2 weeks at least on one of these boxes.

http://www.hbcfitchburg.com/sites/default/files/outreach/food_pantry.jpgGetting my feet wet today, my first job was in taking various boxes of Donated Canned Food and placing on the shelves by type.  Canned Chili goes here, canned veggies there, tomato sauce another shelf, etc.  It’s not too carefully organized because what you get in changes all the time, although some things are very regular, like canned soups.

Organizing up the latest round of donations with one other Veteran Volunteer took about 2 hours.  The Canned Food area is in a room about 400 sq ft I would estimate, but very odd dimensions so it is tough to be exact.  Also in this area is a large Walk-In Freezer where much of the Meat and Fish is stored, but there also are 2 or 3 other large Chest Freezers which have a lot of perishable meats in them as well.

After finishing organizing up the Canned Goods, my next project was making Bags of Spuds from large 50 lb bags donated by local Alaska Farmers and stored down in the Basement, which is very cool and good storage place for root veggies.  I used old shopping bags from stores to make each portion, which was about 5 lbs.  After bagging and tying them up, I brought them upstairs to the main distribution room, and the clients could take one on the way out the door.  Not sure if everyone was eligible though for one of these bags.

Far as the patrons are concerned, it was mostly Old Folks today, though there were some teenagers as well who came along with grandma and carried out her stuff.  Mostly White folks.  When I dropped in there last week to Volunteer, there was a family of four with 2 little girls around 5 and 8 or so, they were Natives.

http://www.omro-wi.com/uploads/4/9/7/0/4970689/8310913_orig.jpg?1372783667Over the 4 hour period we were Open today, I would estimate we served around 16-20 people/families, around 4-5/hour.  There is one person working at the laptop checking off what is given out to each person and they have a certain amount of flexibility in selecting stuff to go in their box, so each person takes 10-15 minutes to serve.  Another Volunteer goes and finds the stuff they ask for if we have it.  With One Trip per Family allowed per month, with 4 days of operation/week, we can probably serve around 350 folks in need of Food Assistance.  There are I think 2 other Food Pantry Charities in the neighborhood, if they are similar in size, then total would be around 1000 Families/month, which I think is plenty for our size community right now, since total population of Palmer is only around 6500 Human Souls.  In order to be Eligible, you have to prove your Residency in Palmer, and have your Social Security Card, proof of Income etc.  I am not sure yet what the income eligibility requirements are, how low your income needs to be.  Over 60 folks do seem to have additional eligibility, not sure how that works yet either.

Given that Palmer is a Farming community with a small population, I think it would be quite easy to ramp up similar Food Distribution to serve more of the population if/when there is Dollar Collapse and failure of JIT shipping.  However, over time the amount of Canned Goods would begin to disappear, and this would have to be compensated for by what can be produced locally.  The variety would drop considerably of course.  However, as long as the transition was made over a couple of years, I don’t see any reason why anybody up here would Starve or need to go Cannibalistic.

Other things I am not yet certain of is how this works in conjunction with the SNAP Card program.  I THINK it is entirely separate, even the Federal Goobermint end, so you can get a Box of Food from us in ADDITION to what you can buy with your SNAP card.  Together, this is DEFINITELY plenty of food to eat each month.  I am pretty sure you also could hit the other Food Charities here once a month, because this is not Networked so nobody at one Charity knows what another Charity has handed out to a given Family.

It would be much harder/impossible to do something similar in Big Shities, because the population is so large and because once JIT distribution fails, these locations do not have local food production to fall back on.  Another good reason to GTFO of Dodge and move to a low population zone with local food production.

It’s really nice to be doing something Local now as well as writing on the net in covering the collapse.  All the folks volunteering were nice Old Ladies, I was the only Male there, although there is supposedly one other guy who volunteers and drives around to make Pickups from the local farms.  We are fortunate that real collapse hasn’t hit up here yet, although definitely there is a significant portion of the population in need of Food Assistance.  Since the SNAP Card program probably will not last in perpetuity, it is important to get these Local Food Charities functioning well to be able to handle larger numbers as time goes by here and more folks fall off the economic cliff.

I will keep a Diary here of my days working at the Pantry.  It’s a very good feeling inside doing this, so I recommend it to every Doomer not himself or herself yet off the cliff.  Even the Bible says this is a good thing to do.

Quote

Matthew 25:35

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

Isaiah 58:10

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Proverbs 28:27

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

James 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

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On this topic, Panentheists and Christians (real ones) can agree.

RE

An Energy-Related Reason Why US Healthcare Outcomes are Awful

Off the keyboard of Gail Tverberg

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Published on Our Finite World on September 9, 2014

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Back in January 2013, the US Institute of Medicine published a report called U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health. This poor health outcome for US citizens is in spite of the US spending twice as much as a percentage of GDP on healthcare as other high-income nations.

As an example of the problems the US has, the report showed the following exhibit, pointing out that the US has made much smaller advances in life expectancy since 1980 than other high-income nations.  The US is now seventeenth of the seventeen countries analyzed in male life expectancy, and sixteenth out of seventeenth in female life expectancy.

Figure 1-6 Female life expectancy at birth

I am sure I do not know all of the reasons for the US divergence from patterns seen elsewhere, but let me try to explain one energy-related reason for our problems. It has to do with a need to get a wide variety of nutrients at the same time we need to balance (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes), in a period of time when the food we eat is increasingly of the “processed” variety. There may also be an issue of eating too much animal protein in our food mix, thanks to today’s ability to ramp up meat production using grains grown and shipped around the world, using fossil fuels.

An Overview of Energy-Related Modifications to Food

If look at primates in general, it is pretty clear that all of the nutrients such animals need come prepackaged in the food that they gather with their limbs. They get the level of exercise they need from gathering this food and from their other daily activities. They have a pretty good balance between (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes), without any special effort.

We humans have been modifying food for a very long time, dating back to the days of being hunter-gatherers. Our earliest changes were successful from the point of making humans more dominant. They allowed us to grow larger brains and allowed human population to grow.

The changes made in recent years, thanks to abundant fossil fuels, seem to be excessive, however. The new processed foods are often missing necessary nutrients and fiber, providing mostly empty calories. It becomes a balancing act to get enough of the right nutrients without filling our bodies with calories we don’t need. Some foods (juices, added sugars, very finely ground grains) are sufficiently different from natural foods that our systems don’t react properly to such food. Also, the exercise our body was expecting is often much reduced.

The way our current system works, the food that is closest to its original form is hardest to ship and store, so tends to be highest-priced. The most calorie-dense, over-processed food tends to be cheapest. As a result, the least-educated people (who tend to be poorest) tend to be most damaged by our poor food supply. According to one study, at age twenty-five, men with less than a high school education have a sixteen-year shorter life expectancy than men with a graduate degree.

Remaining Years of Life_prbOf course, at least part of the problem is the disproportionate lack of health care of less-educated US citizens. There are no doubt effects related to feeling like second-class citizens as well, because of reduced work-opportunities for those with poor educations. But having to work around a poor food system with an inadequate income is an issue that likely plays a major role as well.

How Did Humans Develop Larger Brains?  

There is a popular belief that eating meat made us human. While meat eating may have played a role, there seem to be other factors as well. National Geographic in an article in the September 2014 issue, The Evolution of Diet, observes that modern day hunter-gatherers typically get about 30% of their calories from meat. When meat supplies are scarce, they often live for long periods on a plant-based diet. The article says, “New studies suggest that more than a reliance on meat in ancient human diets fueled the brain’s expansion.”

The point National Geographic mentions is the one I have brought up previously–the theory advanced by Richard Wrangham in Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. It seems to be the ability to control of fire, allowing humans to burn biomass, which set us apart from other primates. This allowed us to cook food, and in doing so, allowed the food to be more easily chewed and digested. Reduced chewing time freed up time for other activities, such as making tools. Nutrients could be more easily absorbed from cooked food. The fact that the food was easier to chew and digest allowed chewing and digestive systems to shrink, and brains to increase in size. It probably also made it easier for more human children to survive.

Furthermore, we now know that some other primates eat meat, so humans are not unique in this regard. Chimpanzees even hunt animals for their meat. National Geographic reports that baboons eat birds, rodents, and even the young of larger mammals, such as antelopes and sheep. But meat makes up only a small share of their diet. We also know that when monkeys are fed a diet that includes very much meat, they gain weight and experience degenerative diseases like humans.

Food Processing: A Little of a Good Thing vs. Too Much of Good Thing

The experience with cooking some food back in hunter-gatherer days shows that a little help in getting more nutrition from foods can be helpful. Plant cell walls are made of cellulose. Cooking vegetables helps break down these cell walls, making nutrients more accessible. There are other ways of processing food–pounding meat to make it more tender or using a blender to chop it into fine pieces. Humans have been milling grains for a very long time.

But it is easy to overdo the processing of food, especially with the help of fossil fuels. Grains can be ground very finely, far more finely they would have been ground, years ago. Sweeteners of various types can be derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn, and added to products of many types. Parts of fruits and vegetables that are deemed “less desirable” such as skins can be removed, even if these parts have a disproportionate share of the nutrients in them.

There is even a second order kind of change to the food supply that can be put in place. For example, before recent “improvements,” cattle ate a mixture of grasses and digested them in their four-part stomachs that are designed from that purpose. Now cattle are being fed all kinds of foods that are not suitable for their digestive systems, including corn and dried distillers grain, a byproduct of making ethanol from corn. There are many other shortcuts taken, from hormones to antibiotics, so as to produce more meat at less expense. Our bodies aren’t necessarily adapted all of these changes. For one thing, there is much more fat in the beef, and for another, the ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids is badly skewed.

There is the additional issue of whether plants actually contain the nutrients that they did years ago. Many of us have learned Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, which states that plant growth is not controlled by total amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource. In other words, a plant needs all of its nutrients–just adding more of the most abundant nutrient isn’t good enough. But Liebig’s Law of the Minimum doesn’t remove all deviations in nutrient quantity. Plants will still grow, even if some of the trace elements are present in smaller than the usual quantities. Adding fertilizer (or even crop rotation) does not entirely fix this situation. We still end up with soil that is deficient in some micronutrients. This situation tends to get worse with time, as our sewer systems send human wastes out to sea.

In recent years, we have been hearing more about the role intestinal bacteria play. The processing of our food is especially likely to remove the less digestible portions of our food that these bacteria depend on for their nutrition. This adds yet another dimension to the problem of food that deviates from what our bodies are expecting us to eat.

Thanks to fossil fuels, processing of all kinds is cheap. So is adding sugar, artificial colors and artificial flavors to help cover up deficiencies in the original crop. The shortcuts farmers take, including heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides, are ways to produce food more cheaply. The food we end up with is inexpensive and convenient, but doesn’t necessarily match up well with what human digestive systems are adapted to.

What Kind of Exercise Do We Need? 

The story I keep reading is that we need a certain amount of high-intensity intermittent exercise to help our bodies operate as they are intended to. Running for even an average of five or ten minutes a day is said to reduce cardiac causes of death by 30% to 45%, and to increase overall life expectancy by three years. We can easily imagine that hunter-gatherers quite often needed to sprint from time to time, either to avoid predators or to catch potential prey. The finding that human beings need short bursts of high intensity exercise, such as running, would seem to be consistent with what our ancestors did. We also can’t sit for long periods–something our ancestors didn’t do either.

How about strength training? One thing that occurred to me when I visited India is how unnatural it is to have chairs to sit on. Much of the world’s population, even today, sits on the ground when they want to sit down. Needless to say, people who don’t sit on chairs get up from the floor many times a day. This is a type of fitness training that we in this country miss. We in the West also don’t squat much–another type of fitness training.

Even with the beneficial effects of exercise, some researchers today believe that food plays a more important role than exercise in obesity. (Obesity is linked to ill health and shorter life expectancies.) A recent study by Herman Pontzer and others compared the energy expenditure of the Hazda hunter-gatherers to Westerners. The study found that average daily energy expenditure of traditional Hazda foragers was no different from that of Westerners, after controlling for body size. The body seemed to compensate for higher energy expenditure at times, with lower energy expenditure at other times.

Conclusion

It seems to me that our appetites don’t work correctly when we fill ourselves with overly processed foods that are lacking for essential nutrients. We don’t stop eating soon enough, and we quickly feel hungry again. In part this may be from eating foods highly processed foods that would never be found in nature; in part it may be because the foods are missing the micronutrients and fiber that our bodies are expecting. Low-income people especially have a problem with such diets, since diets rich in fruits and vegetables are more expensive.

Many people believe doctors can fix our health problems. Looking across countries, diet and public health issues tend to be much more important than the medical care system in the health of a population. With most chronic health conditions, doctors can only take bad health situations and make them somewhat better. High rates of illness and increased mortality remain, similar to what we see in the United States.

Many of us have heard about the so-called calorie restriction diets of monkeys. This is a misnomer, in my view. In at least one version of it, it is a comparison of monkeys fed a low calorie diet that provides a wide range of nutrients found in vegetables, with a diet typical of Americans. If, in fact, we humans also need a wide range of nutrients found in vegetables, we should not be surprised if we have similarly poor health outcomes.

NYT 31aging_graphic_lgAccording to the graphic, Owen, 26, is affected by arthritis. His skin is wrinkled and his hair is falling out. He is frail and moves slowly. His blood work shows unhealthy levels of glucose and triglycerides. Canto, 25, is aging fairly well.

I personally have been eating a diet that is close to vegetarian for twenty years (heavy on vegetables, fruits and nuts; some fish and diary products; meat only as flavoring in soups). I also cut way back on processed foods and foods with added sugar or corn by-products. When I first changed my diet, I had a problem with arthritis and was concerned that I was at high risk for Type II diabetes. I lost weight, and my arthritis disappeared, as did my blood sugar problems. In fact, I rarely have reason to visit a doctor. In many ways, I feel like Canto on the left.

As I pointed out at the beginning of the post, we need to get a wide variety of nutrients at the same time we need to balance (Energy In) = (Energy Needed for Life Processes). Back in hunter-gatherer days, this was easy to do, but it is increasingly difficult to do today. Besides cutting back on processed foods, eating a diet at that is low in meat may be a way of doing this. Studies of people who eat mostly vegetarian diets show that they tend to have longer life spans. There is also direct evidence that diets that are higher in animal protein tend to shorten life spans. These findings don’t necessarily correlate with studies of what works best for losing weight, which is what most people are concerned about in the short term. Thus, we are deluged with a lot of confusing findings.

Food and health problems are issues that tend to strike a nerve with a lot of people. I can’t claim to be an expert in this area. But stepping back and looking at the issue more broadly, as I have tried to do in this article, can perhaps add some new perspectives.

SNAP to RIOT 3: Bring on the National Guard

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 19, 2014

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Coming Soon: An Interview with Dmitry Orlov on the Ukraine Conflict and Resource Depletion

SNAP to RIOT 2 in #ferguson             SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson

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Filed Under: Ferguson, Food Stamps, Militarization, Missouri, National Guard, Nixon, Obama, Police State, Poverty, Race War, Riots, St. Louis, Unemployment, Welfare, Death Penalty, Cop Killers

National Guard troops arrive at a mall complex that serves as staging for the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Protesters face off with police after tear gas was fired at crowds in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday night.

Not such a great holiday: President Barack Obama follows through on a swing while golfing on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Snippet:

…I was intending on moving on tonight to more International Doom, but #ferguson is the Doom Gift that Keeps on Giving.

For the 3rd night in a row with no sign of slowing down, the looting and rioting continue. The livestreams and pics from tonight’s action look like a War Zone, gas and smoke bombs being fired all over the place, and numerous shots fired, though no reports yet of anyone getting hit.

The Obamanista still hasn’t made an appearance there, you would think after a solid week of this shit escalating it might be worthwhile to fly Air Force 1 into Lambert Field and make an appearance. Even George Bush eventually got the GPS coordinates for where Katrina hit and made it to NOLA.

Even as far as making some speeches are concerned, Potus Telepromptus has so far only been given complete pablum to read by his speechwriters, and Goobernator Jay Nixon hasn’t pitched out anything substantive either.

The Gestapo agent who pulled the trigger has disappeared, his house shuttered and dark. Perhaps he is being given a New Identity by the FBI Shooter Relocation Program. Obviously what the community there wants is to see this guy “brought to justice”, which for them would mean conviction for Murder in the 1st Degree followed by a trip to the High Voltage Recliner. Missouri is a state with the Death Penalty of course…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 16, 2014

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Snippet:

…Today I am going to move away from the international geopolitical clusterfuck going on in Ukraine, MENA et al to return home to the FSoA, where the latest local Clusterfuck is ongoing in Ferguson, MO, which actually is part of the St Louis metro area. Ongoing as I write the script for this rant is some amount of undetermined rioting, but a very determined amount of large scale Gestapo crackdown.

The ostensible reason for the excitement there was the shooting of a young black male by a cop, for unknown reasons in any detail. This followed by numerous other young black males taking to the streets in protest, then taking the opportunity to do some Looting, again of how big a part of this looting is or was is open to conjecture.

All you need far as Newz Propaganda is concerned are one or two good shots of a black male exiting through the broken window with a Big Screen TV on his shoulder, and you get the immediate knee jerk reaction that the whole biz is about stealing merchandise, which happens of course but is hardly the underlying cause of the whole thing. It’s also not even clear how much of that really is going on, and frankly everybody knows the Newz Corps will pull out Stock Photos from some OTHER event in the past (Katrina for instance) with some unidentified Black Male running out of a store with a Big Screen TV. HTF do you know as reader of the story where and when a picture was taken? You don’t. You are just sold the spin with this about Looting being the big deal here, and it takes your eye off the ball of the underlying causes, and reactions by TPTB with their Proxy SWAT Team forces….

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!

Gas Siphoning & Energy Theft

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 27, 2014

siphoning-gas

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RE-BM-Camp3In what is likely to become an increasingly more prevalent problem, twice in the last week I had Gas siphoned out of my Spare Carz while I was not around.  The main reason I know about it is because in one case the siphoners left the Gas Cap off and under the rear wheel on the passenger side, so I didn’t see it before rolling over it and busting it.

Second case worse, besides Siphoning, the Perps also went under the car and cut one of the hoses (or maybe more).  The hose was on the ground under the car, I spied it when I got home.  Since I don’t know if this was the only Vandalism, I did not drive the car.  Don’t know if maybe brake lines were cut too.  Had it towed over to the shop for a checkup and repair.  $80 just for the tow.  Don’t know what the repair bill will be yet.  My ATT Road Service Plan doesn’t cover Vandalism.

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2008/06/lockinggascap.jpgFortunately the Tioga Bugout Machine which has the largest Gas Tank at around 50 gallons wasn’t hit so far.  I have a locking gas cap on that one.  I went to Auto Zone and bought Locking Gas Caps for the other two vehicles also now.  Main issue with locking gas caps is they are very easily defeated, all you need is a portable electric drill.  You drill into the cap and this prevents it from free spinning while the drill bit is embedded in the cap.  I figured this out when I lost the keys to a locking gas cap a while back.  Fortunately, most siphoners haven’t figured that out yet, and they just move on to a car without a locking gas cap.

I am considering now getting Security Cameras, but this is another expense and also pretty easily defeated if the siphoner wears a hoodie and duct tapes over his license plate, if the license plate even gets in the picture.

Large Scale Siphoning stories at Gas Stations are also starting to appear.

Thieves In South Florida Siphoning Fuel From Gas Stations

Organized crime groups in South Florida are reportedly siphoning gasoline and diesel fuel from stations in broad daylight.

John Peach, vice president of operations for Victory Petroleum, says that thieves park on top of underground storage tanks at gas stations and remove false bottoms from their large vehicles, usually SUV or minivans, and lower a hose into the tank, stealing thousands of dollars of gas within minutes.

Peach joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to talk about this growing trend in Florida.
Guest

John Peach, vice president of operations for Victory Petroleum.

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

It’s HERE AND NOW.

South Florida is dealing with an unusual crime wave: Thieves stealing gasoline and diesel fuel from gas stations in broad daylight. The thieves are using a siphoning and then storing the fuel in the back of their car.

Joining us now is John Peach, Vice President of Operations for Victory Petroleum, which owns and operates almost 200 gas stations in and around Miami/Dade County. John, thanks for being with us.

JOHN PEACH: Thank you, Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, how exactly does this scheme work?

PEACH: Sure. So these people, who operate in organized crime, essentially identify properties that they target as places where they can steal fuel from. They pull up above our tank field. It’s usually a two to three-man operation involving at least two cars. And they compromise the lock on our tank field, which were the underground storage tanks sit. And they…

HOBSON: This is right on top of the parking lot where you would pull in to get your gas.

PEACH: Yes, sir. Correct. While the person who is in the car that actually performs a siphoning is going about the act of siphoning, they usually have one to two people inside of the convenient store who keep an eye on our employees and our control systems, to make sure that nothing identifies that the crime is going on. In the car, which has a false floorboard, removes the floorboard; they break the lock that sits on top of the underground storage tank.

And they drop a siphon pump down into either the diesel or the gasoline tank, which is hooked up to a motor on the car battery. And they turn on the motor and they can take anywhere from – we’ve seen 70 up to 600 gallons in about 10 minutes.

HOBSON: Ten minutes and no one notices.

PEACH: We do notice. We’ve had instances where our employees have noticed that this was going on. Again, we do have control points in place that identify when things like this happen. We have security systems, cameras. We have alarms that monitor the tank levels with the product underground, so that if product is leaving the tanks – in a manner other than going out of pump, the hose into somebody’s car – an alarm would go off.

And obviously our employees just have general awareness or they’re looking outside to see what’s going on. But, again, these people are operating in organized crime so it’s tough to have your employees stop this. It’s really a job for the local police department to do.

HOBSON: And then they take this gas or this diesel, and they try to resell it on the black market. What is the black market for gas and diesel? How do you even do that?

PEACH: Sure. So what they do is after they steal the product from a retail gas property, like the ones that my company owns and operates, they transport it to wherever it is that they resell it. I would be speculating if I told you that I knew where they resold it. It’s our assumption that they sell it for under market value, because if they were selling this at retail this market wouldn’t exist.

HOBSON: How much are you losing over all? And how much can they make on this?

PEACH: We’re losing tens of thousands of dollars. And other companies in the industry down here in South Florida, Central Florida, and I would speculate but probably other parts of the country are also losing as much money.

HOBSON: And do you have any sense of how much they can make reselling it?

PEACH: I don’t but it’s my guess that it’s a thriving business. We have seen an uptick in this type of organized crime, as the price of the commodity has risen. Probably starting back in October or November, we had a measurable increase of this kind of crime. Obviously we represent a cross sample of the larger industry down here in South Florida, but our sample size is pretty appropriate in the sense that we are in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples, which represents most of South Florida.

And we’ve had properties that have been siphoned all over our geography. Also interesting to point out here that this used to be exclusive to diesel and, in recent months, we have actually had our first incidents of people siphoning gasoline from us.

HOBSON: Well, and I want to ask you about that because you say that having gasoline sitting in the back of a car is actually more dangerous than with diesel, right?

PEACH: Yes, sir. Gasoline is more explosive, that’s correct.

HOBSON: And what would it take to cause an explosion? It’s not just like driving around with a tank of gas in your car in the fuel tank. This is much more likely to be ignited by even a small spark, right?

PEACH: Yes, a couple of things to point out here. So the gas station environment, the retail gas environment, is a pretty well-controlled and secured; what I would refer to as a closed loop environment. So a truck brings product from a port, a rack, a terminal and then drops it in an underground storage tank. And then when they drop product into the underground storage tank, they recover the vapors that are sitting underground where the product used to be.

So in a perfect environment this is a closed loop circuit. When somebody introduces the act of siphoning into this environment without equipment – like a gasoline tanker or a truck – to recapture vapor, right there is where the problem begins. These people are operating siphon motors that we assume operate off a battery of their car. And we are also operating under the assumption that they don’t ground their vehicle properly. So this environment creates static electricity concerns, not to mention just general concerns of motors operating over 5,000, 8,000, 10,000 gallons of gasoline or diesel, very concerning.

In addition to that, we think about the gas tank or diesel tank on your automobile or my automobile, it’s logically placed. There was a reason that the automobile manufacturer put it where they put it on the car, to make sure that in the event of an automobile accident, the least problems could develop. And these people have, you know, 70 to 600 gallons of gasoline or diesel basically sitting in a very unsecured and illogically placed drum in the back of their car. So a common automobile accident would be very dangerous.

HOBSON: Do you think you’ll be able to catch all the people who are doing this?

PEACH: People get caught from time to time. If you look in the news and do a Google search, for instance, you’ll see that this kind of organized crime has existed for a while. From time to time these people do get caught. Sometimes they get caught just in routine traffic stops. Other times local law enforcement agencies see a case through.

But again, our concern in this is, it’s really three-fold. The act of siphoning, it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous to our customers. The act of transporting non-secured fuel on our city streets, it’s dangerous. You think about your friends, your family possibly getting in an automobile accident with one of these siphoning vans.

And then reselling fuel, you know, fuel is obviously a regulated industry, and you think about what they might be doing with the fuel before they turn around and resell it into automobiles. Again, those vehicles driving our city streets is concerning.

HOBSON: Now gas prices are going up a little bit right now, but they’ve held relatively steady for some times. Do you think this is just about the fact that gas is more expensive?

PEACH: No, I don’t necessarily think it’s just about the fact that gas and/or diesel has gotten more expensive. I think that these criminals have gotten more brazen over time with their success in procuring product from properties like ours in this manner. It used to be exclusive to nighttime and properties off the city grid. Now they’re doing it during daytime at properties that are deep in the city grid and highly visible, and I think with their success has come a more thriving market to turn around and resell this product.

HOBSON: That’s John Peach, vice president of operations for Victory Petroleum in South Florida. It operates almost 200 gas stations in and around Miami Dade. John, thanks so much.

PEACH: My pleasure. Thank you, Jeremy.

Now, while I think “Organized Crime” has some part in this, really it doesn’t take much organization, 3 or 4 guys can do it with hardware purchased at Home Depot.  Say you and 4 buddies in a Cul de Sac in some McMansion development each spend $100/wk in gas.  At $4/gal, that is 25 gallons each which is pretty typical between commuting and tooling around the neighborhood doing errands.  If you have a big enough tank and can scarf up 1000 Gallons in 10 minutes, pulling off one of these stunts every couple of months keeps all your tanks full up for FREE! You save $5000/year after tax income this way!

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/sideofminivan.jpg?w=652&h=432Now, one would think the Gas stations could have a better security system.  There could be some kind of Sensor that detects when a siphon hose goes down in the tank.  This would then automatically phone the local Gestapo to come speeding to the scene of the crime.

That might work if there are tons of free cops cruising the neighborhood, but most communities don’t have so many cops and this is pretty low priority on the crime list.  For a gas station out in a rural area, the chances the cops would make it to the scene before the perps have left with the gas is small.

This phenomena among many others is likely to make gas harder and harder to come by.  Smaller stations getting ripped off will have to shut down.  Prices will have to rise to offset the “shrinkage” as it is known in the retail biz when merchandise is shoplifted.

Far as EVs go, the problem is even worse with them, as there are miles of unmonitored electrical transmission cables where with the right setup, you could tap into the power supply and recharge your EV for free.  For tiny EVs like my EWz, I already mentioned how EZ it would be to go into a laundromat or coffee shop and plug in the batteries for a recharge. Also, here in Alaska because of the Cold in Winter, many places have outdoor electric outlets for you to plug in the Block Heater for your car.  If you are driving an EV, you could ALSO plug the car battery in too for a recharge while you eat dinner.  To stop this, every plug would need a Meter on it and a Switch controlled from inside the restaraunt, a huge expense there.

Even outside the EV issue, theft of Energy from the Electrical Grid is SOP for many countries in the 3rd World, from Brasil to India, just for basic power to run household appliances.

http://www.csmonitor.com/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/media/content/2012/india/13344602-1-eng-US/india_full_600.jpg

http://static.progressivemediagroup.com/uploads/imagelibrary/Brazil%20slum%20TOP.jpg

http://www.bzconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/stealing.jpg

The issue is, if you make it basically a REQUIREMENT to buy energy, but a significant portion of the population is too POOR to buy the energy, THEFT will ensue.

Why is it a REQUIREMENT to buy Energy?  Well, first of there are LAWS which mandate it.  Here in Alaska for instance, your domicile MUST have Hot and Cold running water and Electricity if you have any kids.  If you are an adult living by yourself out in the Bush, you can live in a cabin with an outhouse, but soon as you procreate, if your domicile does not have these “necessities” of Industrial Living, Child Protective Services can remove your kidz and send them to the Foster Care system.

In about every Big Shity, if you don’t maintain the Gas Bill, Electric Bill, Water Bill etc to your McMansion, the local “authorities” can and will drop in to CONDEMN the property.  One of the Diners, WHD had this situation ongoing for a while before he finally fortunately got re-employed and was able to start paying these Bills again.

Beyond the energy to run your McMansion, why is it a near MANDATE that you buy energy for travel?

To get to & fro work if you are fortunate enough to still have a JOB, because of the way the infrastructure of the society was built out, in most places you MUST have a car to traverse the distance between work and home.  Even inside the few Big Shities with a decent Public Transportation system, you have to pay the Bus Fares and Subway Fares, in NYC these days now up to $2.50 a trip.  When I was riding these rails regularly in the 70s, the price was 25-35 CENTS. My parents generation rode the Subways for a NICKEL, but in the Great Depression, even that was too much for many to afford.

http://www.futuristspeaker.com/wp-content/uploads/US-Prison-Population.jpgIn every aspect of the society, from the domicile in which you live to the travel you do every day, consumption of energy is mandated, if not legally than by social pressure.  Anyone living without these “necessities” is a FAILURE, homeless people living in Tents don’t get much respect in the society, in fact probably less than people in PRISON, where once in you get 3 Hots & A Cot.  In this case the energy bills for the Prison paid for out of taxation, or further debt issuance in reality.

Today, the FSoA has more people in PRISON than any other country in the world.  Why are so many in there?  Basically because the Industrial Economy does not pay enough people a living wage to afford the energy cost of this lifestyle.  In the end, they turn to a life of “crime”, selling drugs or siphoning gas, prostitution, whatever it takes to get by.

http://www.tildee.com/uploads/1-12-2011/011A3F63-8E7C-4B05-B2E9-7E48AFF1C228.jpgLike the old Workhouses of the British Empire in the Charles Dickens years, Prisons here have become the final stop for the portion of the population that can’t get on the Gravy Train for one reason or another.  Maybe its poor education, maybe there are few opportunities where they live, maybe they are just stupid, but whatever the reason here the “solution” of dropping them in prison is pretty stupid itself.  It costs around $35K to keep anybody in prison.  If you just handed most of these folks $25K, they probably could get by without resorting to crime, but then why would anyone work a Menial Job paying $25K?  Not to mention, a lot of Prison Guards would go Unemployed here, and a lot of Private Companies running Prisons would go outta biz!

People who successfully negotiated the Industrial paradigm, got a “good” job paying a high income by and large do not grasp or understand that the number of said jobs are far less than the size of the population, and so always with this sort of economy 50% or more of the population can barely meet the bills, and that is when the paradigm is working and there is copious energy to waste.  when it gets to the point where the cost of GETTING to work to earn a Minimum Wage that is less than the cost of fuel to get to work, it no longer makes economic sense to GO to work. This situation is already in full swing in places like Greece & Spain, but already even apparent here on the Last Great Frontier, where there still is a little Fossil Fuel energy left to extract, and a low population too.

As the price of Energy rises, it becomes much more profitable and worthwhile to do Energy theft.  At low prices it is not worth the risk, but at high prices the risk is more worth taking.  Generally speaking, if the theft is below $500, it’s a misdemeanor.  From Kentucky:

Under a new law which went into effect on June 25, 2009, the dollar amount for felony offenses has been increased.

A class D felony now requires theft , extortion or damage to property of a minimum of $500, A class C felony now requires $10,000.

The worst you get for Class C Felony of this type is probably Probation.  Its not violent crime, not drug related crime, it doesn’t get a prison sentence usually, if you have a decent lawyer anyhow.  Also, unless you actually are doing this on the big scale, it’s a misdemeanor.  Keep your amount down below 125 gallons or so, even if the cops catch you, it’s not a big crime.  That is easily enough gas to run your SUV for a month.

For now, hopefully the Locking Gas Caps will be enough to deter the local siphoners from hitting my spare carz as Gas Station while I am not around.  However, if this is ALREADY occuring up here where things aren’t really too bad overall, they are bound to be a lot worse in more depressed areas of the country, and will get worse here over time.

I expect to see a great deal of Energy Theft going on as things progress in this spin down, at both the low consumer level of Gas Siphoners, and at the Nation State level of Militaries commandeering Oil Fields in various nations at war.  Joe Biden’s son already appears to be trying such Profiteering in Novorossiya.

This goes on until there is nothing left to steal, and the infrastructure for distribution breaks down on the Grand Scale.

On the local scale, don’t be surprised if you exit Walmart tomorrow and find your Gas Tank emptied.

RE

Unemployment Reality in Amerika

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on November 10, 2013

10 Facts About The Growing Unemployment Crisis In America That Will Blow Your Mind

jobless_unemployment

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UnemploymentDid you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job?  Yes, I know that number sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  Right now, there are more than 11 million Americans that are considered to be “officially unemployed”, and there are more than 91 million Americans that are not employed and that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million.  Overall, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by about 27 million since the year 2000.  But aren’t things getting better?  After all, the mainstream media is full of headlines about how “good” the jobs numbers for October were.  Sadly, the truth is that the mainstream media is not being straight with the American people.  As you will see below, we are in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis in America, and things got even worse last month.

In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that people start thinking for themselves.  Just because the media tells you that something is true does not mean that it actually is.  If unemployment was actually going down, the percentage of the working age population that has a job should actually be going up.  As you are about to see, that is simply not the case.  The following are 10 facts about the growing unemployment crisis in America that will blow your mind…

#1 The percentage of working age Americans with a job fell to 58.3 percent in October.  The lowest that number has been at any point since the year 2000 is 58.2 percent.  In other words, there has been absolutely no “jobs recovery”.  During the last recession, the civilian employment-population ratio dropped from about 63 percent to below 59 percent and it has stayed there for 50 months in a row.  Will the percentage of working age Americans with a job soon drop below the 58 percent mark?…

Employment-Population Ratio November 2013

#2 The U.S. economy lost 623,000 full-time jobs last month.  But we are being told to believe that the economy is actually getting “better”.

#3 The number of American women with a job fell by 357,000 during the month of October.

#4 The average duration of unemployment in October 2013 was nearly three times as long as it was in October 2000.

#5 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by an astounding 932,000 during October.  In other words, the Obama administration would have us believe that nearly a million people “disappeared” from the U.S. labor force in a single month.

#6 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” has grown by more than 11 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#7 In October, the U.S. labor force participation rate fell from 63.2 percent to 62.8 percent.  It is now the lowest that it has been since 1978.  Below is a chart which shows how the labor force participation rate has been steadily declining since the year 2000.  How can the economy be “healthy” if the percentage of Americans that are participating in the labor force is continually declining?…

Labor Force Participation Rate

#8 If the labor force participation rate was still at the same level it was at when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the official unemployment rate would be about 11 percent right now.

#9 Even if you are working, that does not mean that you are able to take care of yourself and your family without any help.  In fact, approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#10 In January 2000, there were 75 million working age Americans that did not have a job.  Today, there are 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

So what are our politicians doing to fix this?

Shouldn’t they be working night and day to solve this crisis?

After all, Barack Obama once made the following promise to the American people…

“But I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who’s looking for a job can find one — and I’m not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, things have not improved since Obama made that promise, but he has found the time to play 150 rounds of golf since he has been president.

Meanwhile, because there aren’t enough jobs, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to grow.

As I wrote about the other day, according to new numbers that were just released an all-time high 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.

And right now 1.2 million public school students in the United States are homeless.  For many more statistics like this, please see my previous article entitled “29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding“.

The only thing that most Americans have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If they can’t find a job, they don’t have any other way to take care of themselves and their families.

The future of the middle class in America depends upon the creation of good jobs.  It really doesn’t matter how far the quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve has been doing pumps up the current stock market bubble.  The American people were told that “economic stimulus” was the reason for doing all of this reckless money printing, but the percentage of working age Americans with a job is now actually lower than it was four years ago.  Quantitative easing has been a complete and total failure in the job creation department, and it is doing a tremendous amount of long-term damage to our financial system.

The really frightening thing is that the Federal Reserve and the federal government have supposedly been doing all they can to try to “create jobs” and they have utterly failed.  In fact, this is the first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen an employment recovery following a recession.

And now the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.  What that hits us, millions more Americans will lose their jobs.

So the truth is that this is just the beginning of the unemployment crisis in America.

Yes, things are bad now, but soon they will get much worse.

India and its Incredible Problems

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on October 30, 2013

india_pollution

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In the year 2000 I spent several months in India. I love India and it was my third visit to the subcontinent. Anyone who has spent time there either ends up loving it or hating it – the sheer in-your-facedness of the whole place, combined with the manic religious devotion that forms a part of everyday life force you to face up to who you believe yourself to be. Yes, India is life with the volume turned up to number 11.

I saw a lot of unsettling things in India. I saw a young woman being burned on a funeral pyre, and afterwards the dogs snuffling through the ashes and running off with morsels of meat. I met sadhus – holy men – who had forsaken the material life and devoted themselves to asceticism, I saw the bullet holes in buildings where British colonial soldiers had massacred Sikhs, and I went to a school high up in the Himalayas where the Dalai Lama was the acting headmaster. And I also met a thousand hucksters and conmen whose ingenious trickery knew no bounds.

I have a fantasy of one day going back to India and living there for good – if it survives the onslaught of pollution, nuclear madness and dam building. Perhaps this will be when I ‘retire’ (ha ha!). As far as I’m concerned, there is no place of Earth like India for sheer oppositeness to our western culture, although Sri Lanka and Nepal come a close joint second. I’d live in an adobe shack in a fishing community in the deep south. My small sailing boat would be moored nearby and I’d use it to ‘commute’ between the ancient world (India) and the old world (Europe) to collect my state pension cheque, which would be enough to survive off for another year (in India).

Beat that for a retirement plan – it’s not exactly golf and cruises.

Anyway, for all the talk of India becoming an advanced industrial nation like the US or European countries I say: no way. That will never be. The limiting factors that describe the scale of the problems she faces are just too constrictive. It’s not just economics that is not on their side (and far too often these days debates are just about economics and nothing else – don’t people have any other idea of how to look at the world?) there are so many other factors to consider. This is what I wrote in my travel diary when I was there 13 years ago. I haven’t been back since, but other than in tech-happy enclaves such as Hyderabad, I can’t imagine it has changed all that much.

***
December 2000, Tamil Nadu state, India

People say that you can not merely ‘see’ India but are forced to experience it to a greater or lesser extent. This sore fact is now quite apparent to us and I hope to be able to give some impression of the confusing emotions that have been aroused.

The primary and most obvious facet of Indian life that is unavoidably obvious even to the most casual visitor is the level of abject poverty. Any romantic notions of the existence of some sort of genteel poverty are soon dismissed when one sees the desperate plight that many people face in this country. Beggars are commonplace even in so-called prosperous towns and much of the begging is done by ragged children and leprous adults. The pitiful sight of the man dressed in rags sat in the dust holding out an outstretched fingerless hand or the barely-alive young woman lying in the middle of the road whilst her child sits sullen-eyed beside her and monstrous Tata trucks thunder past only inches away are not uncommon sights. It is impossible to walk in the streets without attracting the attention of the more mobile beggars, mostly children, who will hold out their hands or else crowd around you and tug on your clothing. This kind of scene prevents a moral dilemma for the westerner who, by comparison with these people, is rich beyond imagination.

Even the most penny-pinching backpacker who eats only bread and uses the most dilapidated and cheap transport, though he may not readily admit it, has a kind of wealth beyond the dreams of these dusty figures for he can afford the elite luxury of foreign travel and does not have to devote every ounce of his energy to earning enough rupees just to keep himself alive. Assuming that the potential donor acknowledges this fact the dilemma that is presented is multi-faceted. Firstly, even if one were to choose to do so, one cannot give change to every beggar. On the streets of Old Delhi, for example, one would be forced to hand out money every few seconds. Secondly, the act of giving to beggars, conventional logic tells us, perpetuates the problem further. Although this argument is most commonly used by people who feel the need to justify their meanness in the face of overwhelming poverty there must be some truth in it.

Although it would be very difficult to gather ‘proof’ of such a theory (you simply can’t go about asking beggars what made them decide to ‘go into begging’) it was clearly apparent in the hills of Nepal where children now routinely skip school to demand sweets and pens from passing trekkers, enough of whom oblige to keep the scourge alive. Thirdly, stories abound of adults mutilating their children (or the children of others) in order to arouse the sympathy of others and thus increase the takings. Whether these stories are true or not it is difficult to say but the image of the young boy sitting in the gutter minus a foot is far more likely to get people to dig into their pockets than the same boy with both feet attached. Whatever moral dilemmas westerners tangle themselves up in when it comes to giving their ‘hard earned’ money to beggars the fact remains that, by ignoring the problem and not giving them anything, they will not simply move into some other ‘profession’ or fall back on some non-existent charitable fund or government scheme. Most of them, one imagines, would simply die quietly to be replaced by others.

Another immediately obvious problem faced by India is the ruination of the natural environment. At times it can seem that entire towns and their outlying vicinities can be several inches deep in biodegradable and non-biodegradable rubbish. As is occurring elsewhere, the rush to become a consumer society has made no allowance for the correct disposal of the trash that it generates. In times past, one imagines, this problem would not have existed as all waste would be composed of such material as banana skins, crushed sugar cane, wood carvings and vegetable waste. This would be routinely tossed out into the streets where the famous holy cows would devour the majority of it (surely the real reason these beasts are allowed to roam freely). Whatever was left would be swept up by the untouchables, put into carts and dumped into the nearest river, pond or creek. This practice doesn’t seem to have changed much and travelling through Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab, I don’t recall seeing a single pond that wasn’t stagnating with plastic trash or a single stream that wasn’t oozing pollutants with more and more cartloads of waste being taken to their banks and tipped in. These squalid scenes are normally populated by scavenging dogs of such obvious ill health that it seems a wonder that they are alive at all. Neither does it help that any open space, whether in town or country, is used as an open toilet which , in some instances, creates a slick of evil-smelling slurry.

In addition to the despoilment of the land and the water there is the serious problem of air pollution. In Delhi, for example, the air around the old part of the city was so polluted a single trip through it in a rickshaw during the evening rush-hour had us coughing and blowing black soot out of our noses until the next day. Motor vehicles, of which there are many, are in the main not fitted with the slightest modification to prevent thick black plumes of smoke issuing forth from their exhaust pipes. As if pollution from vehicles were not enough there is a similar lack of control over the emissions of factories and power stations which can be seen belching thick smoke into the skies. Added to this is the habit of setting fire to piles of plastic and cardboard waste in the streets as a way of ‘getting rid’ of it. In fact, it is said that living in Delhi subjects one’s health to the equivalent of twenty cigarettes per day. The rickshaw wallahs are the most likely casualties of this pollution as they are normally of the lowest caste and social status and therefore least likely to benefit from any healthcare system. It is they who have to sweat through the polluted air, day in day out, breathing the poison deep into their lungs.

Many of India’s problems arise from the sheer number of people who live here. A billion people now live in this country and this number is rising at an alarming rate [about 200 million more now live there since I wrote those words 13 years ago]. A night-time satellite view of northern India shows a relative paucity of light pollution when compared with many other countries. The Netherlands and Japan, by way of example, are so built-up and industrialised that it is as though their entire countries are floodlit. Northern India, despite a population density that rates as almost the highest in the world, is dark by comparison. The reason for this, of course, is the relative unavailability of electricity to such an over-stretched region. In fact demand can be so great and the supply so temperamental that power outages are commonplace and industry is forced to shut down regularly as a result. Any business that needs to present itself as reliable and modern in these difficult circumstances is required to install some sort of backup power generation, usually in the form of a noisy diesel generator and a heap of car batteries. When the power comes back on these same batteries must recharge their cells which then create another excess demand for electricity which will in turn cause the whole system to become unstable and so on and so forth.

So far the picture I have painted of modern India is a bleak one. But for every man-made disaster that India faces there must surely be a man-made solution. Unfortunately though, for the common Indian, there seems to be little prospect of hope from the politicians. The incumbent ruling party, the Hindu nationalist BJP looks to be keener on spending resources fighting Pakistan over Kashmir and developing nuclear weapons than implementing far-reaching policies of poverty alleviation and education. What efforts they do serve up in the name social advancement appear to be white elephants, normally in the form of giant dams, which many claim merely serve self-edifying politicians and consolidate the power of water distribution into the hands of a few. The huge Narmada Valley dam project that is currently being constructed in Gujarat will irrigate a large region and provide a source of power at the cost of the displacement of a million marginalised Indians who do not posses a strong enough voice to block the decision to build it. It will also be costly in terms of the amount of land it will inundate. Gerald Durell, the late English naturalist and captive breeder, once challenged the Indian government over the decision to flood a large area of land for economic gain even though the area was considered to be of great importance for wildlife. The minister in charge of the project rounded on him saying ‘ we in India can not afford such ecological luxuries’. Indeed it was Nehru who, in the 1950s, delivered a speech saying that ‘dams are the new temples of modern India’. Today, despite widespread condemnation from within and abroad, there appears to be no letup in the persual of this received wisdom.

[The Booker Prize winning novelist Arundhati Roy (author of ‘The God of Small Things’) has written a nice polemical pamphlet on the social and environmental cost of the Narmada Dam Project entitled ‘The Greater Common Good’ for those interested]

In any picture of modern India it is impossible to leave out religion and the caste system of discrimination. The beliefs of Indians holds a huge sway over the population and their daily decisions which certainly can not be ignored. The government, whilst claiming to be modernist and therefore religiously neutral are clearly, as Hindu nationalists, not going to go to great lengths to improve the lives of Muslims, Sikhs, Jains or tribals. I am not able to relate to a starving beggar refusing food from me because, me being a non-Hindu, I would have spiritually polluted it. And the concept of holy animals (cows, monkeys, elephants) on the basis of some mythical association with the Hindu pantheon seems anomalous whilst at the same time the streets are full of starved-looking and badly-whipped horses and donkeys (who, when they die from exhaustion or are hit by a vehicle, are tossed into the nearest ditch to be torn apart by dogs and vultures) and the rivers are polluted to the extent that all life is eradicated. One thing is clear however and that is as personal wealth grows there is a diminishing of religious belief. The Indian television adverts almost universally feature light-skinned wealthy Brahmin types (I’ve yet to see a dark-skinned Indian advertising a Business Class plane seat) who live in Beverley Hills type surroundings and drive sports cars and wear expensive suits. These modern role models for the Indian elite and nouveau riche show no outward signs of religious belief other than in some cynical consumerist way (‘Bring a new surround sound Philips flat screen home entertainment system this Diwali’). Basically speaking then, religion, the consoler, is for the suffering masses who have little control over their lives. Religion, after all, doesn’t cost anything, financially speaking.

It seems that for India the solution to the great problems of today can not be expected to come from politicians or Big Business. India is a vast nation of a few big cities and thousands of villages and small-scale schemes seem to often be the most effective. Soon, the Indian Post Office will be training their postmen in the science and philosophy of effective contraception. In Indian society the postman does not just deliver the mail but quite often reads it out to illiterates and his advice may be sought on matters pertaining to it. He is therefore a trusted ally of the people and will be a useful weapon in the war against rampant population growth. One also reads of micro credit schemes where ordinary people are able to lift themselves out of abject poverty by receiving a small loan to start up some small-scale activity, such as making baskets, that they are able to do.

India, most marketing people seem to agree, is an overwhelming of the senses. The potential holidaymaker might be expected to imagine walking through a teeming bazaar full of smiling women in brightly-coloured sarees selling technicolor mounds of tikka powder in silver dishes whilst the whiff of sandalwood and incence drifts up into the clear evening sky as the giant orange ball of the sun sets over the Arab dhows on the Indian Ocean. The reality is a little less prosaic. India is certainly a land of smells, not all of them pleasant, and anyhow the ‘magical pink light at dawn in Varanasi’ is only a result of the industrial pollutants hanging over the Ganges. The coffee table book that contains glossy pictures of a colourful and spiritual India tells only half the story. Tales abound of people planning trips of several months or years in India only to find themselves travelling on the first plane back home after two illusion-shattering days in Delhi. India, for sure, demands a lot more of her visitors than most countries but, in turn, offers a lot more food for thought.

Tunnel People

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on April 9, 2013

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The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America - Photo by Claude Le BerreDid you know that there are thousands upon thousands of homeless people that are living underground beneath the streets of major U.S. cities?  It is happening in Las Vegas, it is happening in New York City and it is even happening in Kansas City.  As the economy crumbles, poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding and so is homelessness.  In addition to the thousands of “tunnel people” living under the streets of America, there are also thousands that are living in tent cities, there are tens of thousands that are living in their vehicles and there are more than a million public school children that do not have a home to go back to at night.  The federal government tells us that the recession “is over” and that “things are getting better”, and yet poverty and homelessness in this country continue to rise with no end in sight.  So what in the world are things going to look like when the next economic crisis hits?

When I heard that there were homeless people living in a network of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Kansas City, I was absolutely stunned.  I have relatives that live in that area.  I never thought of Kansas City as one of the more troubled cities in the United States.

But according to the Daily Mail, police recently discovered a network of tunnels under the city that people had been living in…

Below the streets of Kansas City, there are deep underground tunnels where a group of vagrant homeless people lived in camps.

These so-called homeless camps have now been uncovered by the Kansas City Police, who then evicted the residents because of the unsafe environment.

Authorities said these people were living in squalor, with piles of garbage and dirty diapers left around wooded areas.

The saddest part is the fact that authorities found dirty diapers in the areas near these tunnels.  That must mean that babies were being raised in that kind of an environment.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  In recent years, the tunnel people of Las Vegas have received quite a bit of publicity all over the world.  It has been estimated that more than 1,000 people live in the massive network of flood tunnels under the city…

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft ‘bungalow’ boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Could you imagine living like that?  Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option.  Either they have to go to the homeless shelters or they have to try to eke out an existence on their own any way that they can.

In New York City, authorities are constantly trying to root out the people that live in the tunnels under the city and yet they never seem to be able to find them all.  The following is from a New York Post article about the “Mole People” that live underneath New York City…

The homeless people who live down here are called Mole People. They do not, as many believe, exist in a separate, organized underground society. It’s more of a solitary existence and loose-knit community of secretive, hard-luck individuals.

The New York Post followed one homeless man known as “John Travolta” on a tour through the underground world.  What they discovered was a world that is very much different from what most New Yorkers experience…

In the tunnels, their world is one of malt liquor, tight spaces, schizophrenic neighbors, hunger and spells of heat and cold. Travolta and the others eat fairly well, living on a regimented schedule of restaurant leftovers, dumped each night at different times around the neighborhood above his foreboding home.

Even as the Dow hits record high after record high, poverty in New York City continues to rise at a very frightening pace.  Incredibly, the number of homeless people sleeping in the homeless shelters of New York City has increased by a whopping 19 percent over the past year.

In many of our major cities, the homeless shelters are already at maximum capacity and are absolutely packed night after night.  Large numbers of homeless people are often left to fend for themselves.

That is one reason why we have seen the rise of so many tent cities.

Yes, the tent cities are still there, they just aren’t getting as much attention these days because they do not fit in with the “economic recovery” narrative that the mainstream media is currently pushing.

In fact, many of the tent cities are larger than ever.  For example, you can check out a Reuters video about a growing tent city in New Jersey that was posted on YouTube at the end of March right here.  A lot of these tent cities have now become permanent fixtures, and unfortunately they will probably become much larger when the next major economic crisis strikes.

But perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the massive number of children that are suffering night after night.

For the first time ever, more than a million public school children in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

So if things are really “getting better”, then why in the world do we have more than a million public school children without homes?

These days a lot of families that have lost their homes have ended up living in their vehicles.  The following is an excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview with one family that is living in their truck…

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

But after watching a news report or reading something on the Internet about these people we rapidly forget about them because they are not a part of “our world”.

Another place where a lot of poor people end up is in prison.  In a previous article, I detailed how the prison population in the United States has been booming in recent years.  If you can believe it, the United States now has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has about 5 percent of the total global population.

And these days it is not just violent criminals that get thrown into prison.  If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, you could be thrown into prison as well.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions’s Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply “poverty penalties,” such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can’t afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors’ prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, “It’s like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor.”

If you are poor, the United States can be an incredibly cold and cruel place.  Mercy and compassion are in very short supply.

The middle class continues to shrink and poverty continues to grow with each passing year.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  And if you throw in those that are considered to be “near poverty”, that number becomes much larger.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

For many more facts about the rapid increase of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

But even as poverty grows, it seems like the hearts of those that still do have money are getting colder.  Just check out what happened recently at a grocery store that was in the process of closing down in Augusta, Georgia

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

Can you imagine watching that happen?

But of course handouts and charity are only temporary solutions.  What the poor in this country really need are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States since the recession ended.

In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse.  The number of layoffs in the month of March was 30 percent higher than the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, small businesses are indicating that hiring is about to slow down significantly.  According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses in the United States are extremely pessimistic right now.  The following is what Goldman Sachs had to say about this survey…

Components of the survey were consistent with the decline in headline optimism, as the net percent of respondents planning to hire fell to 0% (from +4%), those expecting higher sales fell to -4% (from +1%), and those reporting that it is a good time to expand ticked down to +4% (from +5%). The net percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve was unchanged at -28%, a very depressed level. However, on the positive side, +25% of respondents plan increased capital spending [ZH: With Alcoa CapEx spending at a 2 year low]. Small business owners continue to place poor sales, taxes, and red tape at the top of their list of business problems, as they have for the past several years.

So why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix this?

For example, why in the world don’t they stop millions of our jobs from being sent out of the country?

Well, the truth is that they don’t think we have a problem.  In fact, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter”.

He apparently does not seem alarmed that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been shut down in the United States since 2001.

And since the last election, the White House has seemed to have gone into permanent party mode.

On Tuesday, another extravagant party will be held at the White House.  It is being called “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul”, and it is going to include some of the biggest names in the music industry…

As the White House has previously announced, Justin Timberlake (who will be making his White House debut), Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and others will be performing at the exclusive event.

Living Underground - Photo by Patrick Cashin

And so who will be paying for all of this?

You and I will be.  Even as the Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, they continue to blow millions of taxpayer dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations.

Overall, U.S. taxpayers will spend well over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year.

I wonder what the tunnel people that live under the streets of America think about that.

 

Amerika is Detroit

Off  the keyboard of Steve  Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on March 16, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

America’s economy is sick. It’s getting sicker. Coverup and denial conceal reality. Census data say record numbers of US counties are dying. It’s over one in three.

 
It reflects population shifts and Depression conditions. America’s decline gets little attention.
 
Since 1981, 42 US municipalities declared bankruptcy. Ten did so in the past four years. Expect more to follow. Hard times getting harder assures it.
 
Detroit once symbolized industrial America. Might Motown resembles a ghost town. It’s dying. It nears bankruptcy.
 
Fifty years ago it was America’s fifth largest city. It’s now 18th. In the last decade, half the population left. It’s America’s ghetto. Its neighborhoods are in disrepair. They’re decaying and dying.
 
Half or more working aged residents have no jobs. Those with them have low-pay part-time or temp ones. They don’t pay enough to live on.
 
Poverty is extreme. It’s increasing. Nearly two-thirds of Detroit’s children are impoverished. They’re out of sight and mind.
 
Dozens of schools were closed. More closures are planned. Teachers were fired. Kids aren’t educated. Nearly half the population is functionally illiterate.
 
Public services are eroding en route to eliminating them altogether. One-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles lies vacant or derelict. Heavily blighted areas are increasing.
 
Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant. The median home price is $9,000. Many are much cheaper.
 
Property crime is double the national average. Violent crime is triple. Many areas aren’t safe. Police are unapologetic. Go out at your own risk, they warn.
 
In the last decade, half the force was laid off. So were hundreds of firefighters.
 
More austerity cuts are planned. It’s official policy. On March 1, Governor Rick Synder declared a financial emergency. Appointing a financial czar followed. He named bankruptcy attorney Kevin Orr.
 
He works for Cleveland-based Jones Day. His past experience includes government service. In 1991, he was counsel for the FDIC’s Litigation Section.
 
From summer 1991 – mid-1995, he was assistant general counsel for the Resolution Trust Corporation’s Complex Litigation and Bankruptcy Section.
 
From mid-1995 – February 2000, he was in the US Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Trustees. From February 2000 – January 2001, he served as Deputy Director.
 
At Jones Day, he’s involved in business restructuring and all aspects of bankruptcy. He played a lead role in Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.
 
Plants were closed. Jobs were lost. Wages were slashed. So were benefits. Strikes were banned. Detroit’s heading for the same abyss.
 
Claiming no alternative is false. It’s a Big Lie. Making the city’s rich and corporations pay their fair share solves fiscal problems. It’s true across America.
 
Corrupt politicians complicit with corporate bosses want solutions imposed on the backs of ordinary people. They want them bearing the burden.
 
Orr’s now Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). His powers permit canceling union contracts, terminating pension obligations, cutting services, ending others, selling city assets at fire sale prices, and privatizing its operations.
 
Mayor David Bing implemented deep spending cuts earlier. He fired thousands of workers. He outsourced vital services. Profiteers took full advantage. Bing’s got much more in mind.
 
Orr’s in charge. His job is radically restructuring Detroit. Expect the worst ahead. He’ll do it on the backs of ordinary people. He’ll fire city workers, cut wages and benefits, erode vital services, and end others.
 
He’ll hand over Detroit to bankers and other profiteers. Public resources will be plundered. Doing so assures greater crisis conditions. Unemployment will grow. Poverty will increase. Ordinary people will be left high and dry.
 
Public anger followed Orr’s appointment. He’s Black. Opponents call him an “Uncle Tom.” On March 14, they protested outside Cadillac Place. It’s a landmark downtown office complex.
 
Rainbow Push Coalition’s Rev. David Bullock expressed outrage, saying:
 
“They’re going to try to convince me that I should give up my right to vote, and put the city of Detroit in the hands of the same man who said he wasn’t going to pass right-to-work.”
 
“(He’s) the same man who took away the earned income tax credit….the same man (who’s) taxing our pensions. Never, never!”
 
National Action Network’s Rev. Charles Williams II said:
 
“We’re not worried about no Kevin Orr. Uncle Toms ain’t nothing new. We’ve had Uncle Toms for a long time.”
 
Tom Barrow is president of Citizens for Detroit’s Future. He said Michigan’s emergency manager law imposes diktat powers. It was created to oppress. It passed in mid-December.
 
It’s similar to Public Act 4. In November, voters rejected it by statewide referendum. Governor Snyder and legislators ignored them. They have no say.
 
Draconian powers are authorized. They include appointing an EFM, undergoing bankruptcy, accepting state-imposed consent agreement terms, overruling locally elected officials, selling public assets, modifying or terminating contracts, ending pension obligations and more.
 
Orr has diktat powers. What he says goes. Detroit residents are on their own. They’re out of luck. It’s been that way for years. It’s worse now than ever.
 
Neoliberal priorities let vital needs go begging. Money power in private hands assures it.
 
Finance is a new form of warfare. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished. They’re left out on their own.
 
Corrupt federal, state and local officials arrange things. They do so for greater power and self-enrichment.
 
John McMurtry is a Progressive Radio News Hour regular. His “Cancer Stage of Capitalism” explains. Its new edition expands on what he wrote earlier. He discusses a money sequencing life destroying system.
 
Economies and communities are plundered for profit. Financial bosses are more powerful than standing armies. They take full advantage.
 
Detroit is ground zero. It reflects what’s wrong with America. It exposes predatory capitalism’s failure. It represents the worst of what’s coming.
 
Ordinary people are out of luck. Greater pain and suffering will follow. Democracy’s nowhere in sight. Monied interests matter most.
 
Detroit’s a microcosm of America. It reflects what’s spreading nationwide. It exposes venal priorities. Let ’em eat cake is dogma. Force-fed austerity assures it.
 
America’s criminal class is bipartisan. It conspires with Wall Street crooks. It’s allied with other corporate favorites. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.
 
Ordinary people are marginalized. They exploited. They’re entirely left out. Their lives are wrecked. They’re deprived of enough to live on. They’re heading for neoserfdom.
 
They’re on their own to fight back. Officials they elected are enemies. Preventing them from getting away with plundering America is top priority. Detroit’s a good place to start.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Quote from: K-Dog on September 15, 2019, 08:08:32 [...]

Good interview.  You sounded smart. [...]

A little Political Bickering is a small price to p [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

Shaking the August Stick By Cognitive Dissonance     Sometime towards the end of the third or fourth [...]

Empire in Decline - Propaganda and the American Myth By Cognitive Dissonance     “Oh, what a tangled [...]

Meanderings By Cognitive Dissonance     Tis the Season Silly season is upon us. And I, for one, welc [...]

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog Image by ElisaRiva from Pixa [...]

A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-11http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Trickster's Tale"Everyone has some wisdom, but no one has all of it." Come gather 'round my children [...]

Nothing Again - Naomi Klein Renews Her Climate Prescription"By now we should all be well aware by now of the havoc being caused by climate change." I [...]

Leaves of Seagrass"Seawater is the circulatory system of Gaia"In 1855, Walt Whitman penned the free verse, “ [...]

Treeplanting Olympics"Withdrawing 700 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere could be accomplished by as early as mi [...]

The Dark Cloud"Skynet needs to send a terminator back to 1984 and take out Mark Zuckerberg’s mom before he ca [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Art Berman is saying he sources are saying the attack was an inside job. https://twitter.com/aeberma [...]

That is an interesting viewpoint. I haven't heard it before. [...]

Right--he did the same thing with North Korea. People are onto him. [...]

Sounds like a problem that could have been solved by a few hundred people directing traffic... [...]

The main barrier to selling your old diamonds is not De Beers, but the fact that the predominantly O [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) is a paleoclimate temperature cycle that originates in th [...]

The building environment parameterization scheme (BEP) is a built-in “urban physics” sch [...]