Category Archives: Th Commons

Starve the Beast and Watch it Eat Itself

The following piece appeared in Addicting Info by Don Hamel (link here). I took some editing liberties in my reprint. The first point is relevant, there is a big hoo-hah about whether we are a democracy or a republic (note the root words for our two party system – they’d both like to be the driving value that is considered to be ultimately American). The truth is that we are a constitutionally limited democratic republic.

This term “constitutionally limited democratic republic” means that #1 the Constitution is our founding document and authority, #2 we have a representative government – each individual citizens does not vote on each piece of legislation, so we elect people to act on our behalf, and #3 those representatives are supposed to be elected democratically – by the people for the people.

I agree with the author that the heart of our nation lies in democratic ideology. Indeed many of the current movements – Move to Amend, Occupy, Transition Towns, even many Tea Partiers are all about increasing citizen empowerment – they’re about democracy. The Citizens United ruling that granted corporate personhood is the backdoor that allows a corporation to pretend like they are also a citizen that is looking for some individual empowerment and wants to take liberties (and oh boy do they!).

I know some readers love to point out the disadvantages of having government involved in our daily lives, my question is, would you rather it be replaced with an entity just as large – or larger – but with a mission statement that clearly does not have the best interest of humans in mind. This question is especially poignant in the case of that entity providing human services. Also my question is: does their ideology make them comfortable with watching people suffer and die as a result of losing those human services if the “beast” really could be drowned in the proverbial bathtub?

My value system does not allow me to be comfortable at all with our status quo. My ideology and value system is outraged at every life taken by military force whether it is through direct targeting, “friendly fire”, or the poison that is put into the earth and slowly kills those around it. My values are insulted at every belch of toxic waste onto this beautiful planet. My conscience screams out as cyclical poverty leads to ignorant, desperate people, who hurt each other in their struggle for survival. My religious upbringing tells me to love my neighbor, feed my people, and to give and forgive. My spiritual being feels sucker punched when I see our prison industrial complex, our military industrial complex, and all of our our fear based industrial complexes. I am deeply disturbed at how our collective greed and laziness have allowed disposable gadgets to outweigh the value of the human being – depending on what socio-economic benefit can be rendered from them.

That’s why I can’t stay silent about the injustices happening to me and my fellow humans. What follows is Don Hamel’s piece; here’s what he has to say about it: Continue reading

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The People Make Lemonade

A story like this one puts into practice everything that’s great about the Commons. If you’ve driven around America – especially middle America – you’ve likely seen an empty Wal-Mart building. It’s the follow through that is missing in capitalism. In capitalism today, you are rewarded if you use something up and leave as an eyesore on the landscape. If the citizens are lucky, the eyesore isn’t leaching toxicity into their land and water.

This quote from McAllen, Texas native (from LATimes article):

“In a city like McAllen, with cartel violence across the river (less than 10 miles away from the library), I think it’s amazing that the city is devoting resources to a) not only saving a large and conspicuous piece of property from decline and vandalism, but b) diverting those resources into youth and the public trust,” Ramirez writes. “It’s easy to fall into drugs, drinking, and violence when you live on the border. It’s not really easy to find a place to hang out when you’re 14 that’s not the mall, the movies, or Mexico. And a giant library — a cool-looking open space devoted to entertaining the imagination? Well, I think that’s the best counter-move against violence imaginable. And you don’t even have to wait for a computer now.”

The new McAllen Public Library opened in December 2011; after it had been open for just a month, new user registration increased by 23%.
Part of the loop of sustainability and stewardship needs to be a plan – that must be part of the business model – that considers the waste stream a product generates, no matter whose hands it ends up in, regardless if it is a syrofoam noodle or an empty Wal-Mart shell. We know Wal-Mart leaves these monstrosities in the path to small town consumer domination, why can’t they be assessed the bill for putting the land back to its original natural state, or helping out with a few more libraries. If Wal-Mart is the culture of choice as a people, then we need to keep the pressure on Wal-Mart.
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Nuclear Energy = Kids with Tumors

Nuclear Energy is not pro life.

From Business Insider:

Of more than 38,000 children tested from the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, 36 percent have abnormal growths – cysts or nodules – on their thyroids a year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, as reported by ENENews.

The shocking numbers come from the thyroid examination section of the “Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey,” published by Fukushima Radioactive Contamination Symptoms Research (FRCSR) and translated by the blog Fukushima Voice.

Shunichi Yamashita, M.D., president of the Japan Thyroid Association, sent a letter to members in January with guidelines for treating thyroid abnormalities. In 2001 Yamashita co-authored a study that found normal children in Nagasaki to have 0 percent nodules and 0.8 percent cysts.

The introduction of the letter, written by Fukushima Voice, states that the results in Fukushima show a “much faster progression compared to Chernobyl” as research done around Chernobyl showed the rate of thyroid nodules in children 5 to 10 years after the accident to be 1.74 percent.

In March 2011 a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that led to series of nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, leading to the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

The introduction of the letter notes that Australian pediatrician Helen Caldicott said that is”not at all normal for children to have thyroid nodules or cysts and that early appearance of thyroid abnormalities, less than one year, meant the Fukushima children received a very high dose of radiation.

No amount of convenience, comfort or efficiency is worth children getting tumors. Nuclear energy does not make sense for many reasons, but this story brings it down to a very tangible story in the course of one year. Kids that used to be healthy now have multiple tumors in their throat. People that used to be healthy are now suffering, not just with tumors, but other debilitating symptoms of radiation poisoning.
Then there’s the water. Stories like this one let us know that no one has a handle on how to manage this nuclear disaster or control its impact on our natural resources. Ground water is involved, the ocean becomes an exhaust valve. The people are expected to trust TEPCO – a company that has been lying about the severity of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster.  Radioactive waste is like the ultimate case of cooties that you can’t get rid of and infects everything it touches. Nuclear energy facilities are permanent propositions and natural disaster circumstances are only a matter of time for each and every one of them. We can’t look to the future generation and honestly say it is safe. We should be trying to solve the nuclear waste problem we have already created.
The question of our time is: how much is energy today worth? Is it worth life tomorrow? Is it worth future generations?
It is costing humankind dearly.
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LIBOR: The Market is a Fairytale

CivilTongue is on hiatus for one week. Check back next week for more civilized discussions of current issues impacting us today.

Should you care about LIBOR? Not unless you’ve used credit – for home loans, business loans, credit cards, student loans, anything with an interest rate.

Here’s the short of what the LIBOR scandal means for us that have used credit: we’ve been used as a spring of wealth. We the People of the United States and the entire globe, with our earned money have been covering for huckster book cookers. The implications are that most or all major, multinational banks are conspiring and colluding to fix the market at its very basic building block level. The government in London is implicated, possibly most major governments are also guilty.

It looks to be an extremely extensive web of deceit. The market fixing done cannot be done alone – Barclay’s has already admitted to fixing – in order for the level of corruption that has unfolded to be true, the likelihood is that all major banks are involved in this type of fixing and scandal.

So not only do banks need bailing out but they need bailing out even though the game was rigged in the first place. This is despite the fact that they have unlimited legal, financial, marketing, lobbying, security, and public relations resources. Still, they produce no actual product and rely on those of us who actually provide goods and services to the globe to keep the spigot of money flowing their way. The greed and corruption also seems unlimited.

This scandal exposes, not just a corrupt bank, but the very mechanisms by which we are told “the Market” works. Those mechanisms have been found to be figments of the imagination, not even rusty or broken, but a fairytale that bankers have been telling each other – and the rest of us have been betting the farm on them.

Matt Taibbi and Dennis Kelleher explain in more detail:

Once again, it is up to the People to demand that these stories get reported in the media (go ahead and make a request), and that we keep the pressure on by asking candidates about it, asking our representatives about it, and making it an issue while Barclay’s is spilling the beans. These organizations have been left to police themselves, instead they have reinvented pillaging our villages – and been unbelievably successful.

This is not just another scandal, it is about real dollars that used to be yours and now they are not. And those are the same dollars that are buying government influence, and the same dollars that pay to keep labor conditions racing to the bottom while sky’s-the-limit for elite profits and living conditions.

It is easy to write this off as another boring example of how we get screwed over by “the system”. It’s common to hear, “they’re all crooks!” as a general reference to anyone in business or government, but that is the white flag of apathy. It is music to “their” ears to hear a meme that encourages shrugging it off as business as usual.

Yes, it has been, “business as usual”, but the fat financial dragon has exposed its underbelly. Are we going to yawn our way through the opportunity to demand more accountability, transparency, and responsibility? Once again it’s up to us. Learn more here and here and here.

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Don’t Spank Your Mother

You don’t spank your mother do you?“, the friendly man asked. I looked up and saw him grinning. He was commenting on my technique – I was learning to build a cob house. What I was doing is putting “loaves” of cob – which is just clay, sand and straw mixed up – in a course to make a wall. After you do a few, you need to step back and “massage” the wall into proper plumb and form. I had been smacking my wall trying to get it to move a little inward. The friendly voice suggested that I stop slapping at it and put more slow moving muscle into it. It’s a bit of natural building humor, but the message sticks, “Don’t spank your mother.” It reminds me a little of the Mother Nature margarine commercials of the 70s – “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Mom Nature sees through the rug we’ve been sweeping our garbage under. Continue reading

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