.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

My Photo
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Memories of Christmas Past

You never know what you're going to find rummaging through old things. I must have been eleven years old when I made this card. Catholicism provides an endless source of humor. Click on the image for a larger view.

For the unfamiliar, the term means a sudden outburst, as in "Jesus mercy!" or "Praise be to God!" "Allahu Akbar!" would be a good example in another tradition. Still, I wonder what the nuns were thinking when they made the assignment to do these cards, and when they read them. I also wonder what my mother thought when I gave it to her.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reverse Engineering

It has been a while since I wrote about the economy. So many other matters have intervened, and another dry treatise on economic topics would likely bore people, and would also have zero impact. Things I have written about, from the "Arab spring" (which actually happened mostly in the winter) to the Madison uprising to the pedophile coaching scandals are all either directly or indirectly related to economic factors, so talk about theory could wait.

The uprising at the Wisconsin State Capitol is more about crime through political power than anything else. The governor, Scott Walker, came into office to enforce austerity on the government sector. Unfortunately for him, he has had a history of disregard for law and common decency, and went far beyond his "mandate," revealing his true intentions, which are to solidify power and eliminate opposition. All indications are that he will be recalled soon, and if there is any justice in the world, prosecuted as well.

The uprisings across the Arab world were rooted in economic woes, beginning in Tunisia as a result of a hopeles street vendor setting himself on fire. The revolts spread across north Africa and beyond because millions were fed up with their conditions of political and economic dispossession.

Crowd at Zuccotti Park, New York City, October 14, 2011. Photo credit: Laney WaxInspired by these uprisings, the Occupy Wall Street movement tapped into frustration over the free ride the rich are getting in our ongoing economic decline. It is going into a dormancy for the most part as winter approaches, but will likely be back in the spring with some new energy and methods.

While all this unrest is in ferment the "U.S." is preparing for its upcoming presidential election. The state of the economy is the major determinant of who will win.

What all these dynamics have in common is that they will intensify or ease depending on the condition not just of our domestic economy, but worldwide conditions as well. The prospects are not good for economic conditions to get significantly better any time soon. A crisis as bad or worse than 2008 is likely.

It has been said repeatedly by economic observers on the "left" that Obama squandered his chance to heal our economic woes when he assumed office. Instead, he yielded to pressure, appointing Wall Street insiders as his chief economic advisers. This shouldn't have been a surprise, but for most people who voted for Obama, including me, it was. Money talks, and politicians are beholden to those who pay them bribes, known euphemistically as campaign donations. I donated twenty-five dollars. That didn't qualify me for anything more than my one vote, which I had anyway.

What I can safely say is that whether it is Tunis, Cairo, Athens, Madison or Washington, D.C., the established order will always decide for itself. For the wealthy and powerful, deciding for themselves is all they know. The only way for effective change to take place is to supplant the established order. In some countries this means overthrowing the government, but here in the "U.S." it means overthrowing the ruling class.

This seems like a tall order, unlikely to the point of impossibility, but the way things are going the system will collapse. The European system is collapsing, and likely will bite the dust within the next few months. The repercussions here in the "U.S." will be profound. It was the greed and irresponsibility our our banking system that precipitated the European crisis. They have their own structural and profligacy problems, but the "American" fraud system made everything worse. "American" banks and investors are deeply involved in Europe.

You can read about this anywhere. Common Dreams is a good place. Where I depart from "leftist" writing is that I assume overthrow of the established order worldwide. If it doesn't happen, then human civilization will cease. I'm an optimist. Therefore, overthrow is inevitable.

In this context, overthrow can be looked at in terms of backnavigation from a future of sustainability, democracy and an equitable distribution of income and wealth. The term reverse engineering came into our vocabulary in the early days of the "Iraq" war, when the Bush criminal regime bastardized methods used in the Air Force's SERE program to develop a torture program.

The same idea can be used for good as well as evil. A future of massive slavery, oppression, poverty and environmental degradation is unthinkable, so let's not bother ourselves with it. Assume a future of plenty, freedom, full employment with good jobs, clean air, clean water, a life-promoting climate, and an equitable distribution of income and wealth. Take that as the given end result, put it at the extreme axis of a scale of conditions, and at the other extreme axis put what we have now. The backnavigation or reverse engineering would be conceptually easy to imagine.

In this methodology intention to reach the other extreme axis would be assumed, which would mean everything we are doing now that is counterproductive to reaching the goal would have to be discarded. Some hindrances should be obvious - corporate personhood, bribing of politicians (campaign donations), any country being the "world's only superpower," regressive taxation, freedom to pollute, inordinate wealth, monopoly power, Fox News. Others, like deep water oil drilling and fracking for natural gas, are less obvious due to corporate propaganda efforts.

This may seem like a revolutionary or extreme approach, to which I would agree, relative to what we have now. The problem is that what we have now is an approach that will lead to the extinction of the human species, and many others as well. In a few years, when the effects of climate change intensify beyond what we can tolerate, new approaches will come. We can plan for it now, and avoid the kinds of extremes our ruling elite is cooking up. The "Patriot" act and other crackpot schemes to spy on the public, limit discourse, imprison without due process and hide what the government is doing are all evils for any by the ruling elite.

The movement to a police state is incremental, but all it will take is another "911" type attack or some other national emergency for the process to accelerate to completion. It won't work, of course, but it's all the ruling elite has. What a repression system will do is give those in power free rein to do what they want to stay in power. In other words, do more of what is being done now, but without opposition.

The problem for the ruling elite is that free rein for doing what is being done now will result in system collapse, and the end of the ruling elite anyway. Therefor, let's do the backnavigation from peace, prospertiy, health, full employment and a clean environment while we still have time.

This song has gotten kind of hackneyed, but I still like it. This live version is a fresh look.

Here's another that still works.

This too.

For a little background on the Bush criminal regime's torture program, click here.