FOOD EMPIRES


Machu Picchu by Simon Tong

Evan Fraser co-author of Empires of Food gives some valuable historical perspective on the importance of natural resources and the patterns of growth.  Though, environmental conditions are easy to ignore and can be quite subtle, they are extremely important to recognize.  Fraser points out that empires have largely existed happily and come to prosper in good weather conditions for crops.  He points out the Minoan Warm Period, the Roman warm period and the Medieval warm period, as well as the current warm period we are being graced with during the 20th and 21st century thus far.  He also pointed out the lack of droughts or above average rain fall that existed during the success of all of these empires.  Though perhaps not always the obvious factor, the root cause of many Empire collapses can be linked to environmental and social conditions.

All of the above mentioned empires took the route of creating highly efficient short term farming techniques which involved deforestation, and monocropping, being susceptible to drought, erosion and pests.  When climate conditions were no longer favorable, food prices changed, the poor became susceptible to disease, armies could no longer be sufficiently fed and Empires collapsed. In the Medieval age, unexpectedly disease left nearly half of Europe dead, 100 years following the heights of prosperity.

Fraser names three traps that rising civilizations frequently fall into.  These include 1. ‘the vulnerable landscape trap. (deforestation, monocrop, high short term yields, susceptible to pests, drought and erosion.) 2.  The existence of a permanent underclass. living in utter deprivation, weak and susceptible to disease. 3. The good weather trap; expanding agriculture and depending on warmth and rain, until conditions are not as favorable. As i write we are facing the worst drought in many years.

The chief of the IMF recently stated that we are under a triple threat, of environment, economic and social strain.

John Bettington is concerned about food water and energy shortages for the future.

Fraser points out that while these factors frequently have unhinged societies in the last 100 years, we have also seen enormous adaptive capacity.

What the economy can and cannot measure



Here is a basic overview of where the market fails:

The free market was designed for the management of goods and services which are both rival and excludable.  Anything which is not rival and excludable is inherently not efficiently managed by the market as it is set up today.  In other words, the market effectively manages pieces of the whole, as long as they can be confined, defined and possessed easily, but the more these pieces are parts of greater systems, the more the market fails, causing the systems to fail, failing our preferences, our ecosystems, and our economies.

If I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you can not also eat the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The PB and J is rival.  However, the list of ingredients, and preparation instructions may be be valuable to both you, and I. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is rival.  The ingredients information is non-rival.  In fact, if you are preparing food for my potluck.  Sharing a cookbook of mine, with you,  may turn out to be beneficial to myself.

A situation that might concern us to a greater extent. As I explained earlier, a rival good is a good which depreciates value with use.

THe Catskill watershed provides New York City with water purification.  This was a good enjoyed by the public and water companies.  Eventually sewage and pesticides from surrounding areas threatened the water supply and the EPA had to step in.  After changes, the natural abiotic processes such as soil absorption and filtration, and biotic recycling improved the water to levels back above standards.
In hindsight the waste dumping and pollution was extremely expensive to the collective group that used the water.  The watershed then performed non-rival eco-system services for all affected by the water.  The eco-system is wildly complex, and in any given place we may be affecting any number of eco-system services, which are extremely difficult to calculate value for.

In the case of consuming resources, as stock-flows it is easier to measure, calculate and create ownership, with fewer externalities.  With eco-system services, we it is highly difficult to measure, calculate and create ownership, and externalities exist across the board.

For instance, if i use a tree to make a table, that tree is no longer as valuable as a stump. The tree is rival. However, if walking down the local side walk next to the river, I am using the tree’s flood prevention, this is not rival and I would be happy if others also used this service that the tree provides.  The tree as material is rival.  The tree as providing a service is non-rival.

As a system of measurement, the market fails in maximizing the benefit of non-rival goods.  In the case of the tree that provides, water cleansing, river bed stability, oxygen, and carbon sink to all; our economy does not have an accurate way of valuing our ‘preferences’ toward maintaining the existence of that tree.

It would be appropriate to note that many market-failures revolve around natural-resources, so specifically in these areas, the market, is not capturing our true preferences.

Excludable goods, are those goods which can be made private.  An example is a cook book.  “This cook book is mine, because the law says so.” Example of non-excludable goods are fish in the oceans.  When fish are out of the water, they are eaten, by one or a couple of persons becoming excludable and rival.  Because the ocean is an open access regime, the fish are non-excludable. It may be intuitive that for a good to be efficiently allocated in our market it must be excludable, or able to be privatized.

Therefore, to judge whether a good is able to be efficiently allocated by the market it must be rival, excludable, generate no externalities and the well-being of future generations must not be affected by its current use.   Unfortunately, no good or service provided by nature meets all of these criteria.  So in the case, of our market.  The idea that we are constructing a world of our choosing is illusory.  Based on a monetary voting system we are producing the rival and excludable goods of our preferences.  Unfortunately, this occurs at the costs of devalued, non-rival, and non-excludable goods, for which we cannot voice our preferences!

This may come to a relief, to people who were believing that it was simlpy our collective preferences that have led us toward the levels of natural world destruction we are currently seeing.

We see these intersections with goods in open access regimes, excludable and non-rival goods pure public goods and market goods.

Other Market failures:

Missing markets

Substitutability of capitals

Disintemporal discounting

Monopolization

Market momentum

Government failures:

Ecological Economics

The Major paradigm shift which is called for by Ecological Economics is the transition from understanding the Economy as the whole and the environment as a subsidiary, to understanding the Environment as the whole and the economy as a subsidiary.  The economy uses inputs from the environment and then produces outputs into the environment.

Here is the conventional model of the economy.

http://hspm.sph.sc.edu/courses/econ/classes/GDP/GDP.html

Unfortunately, the source of resources and energy would not be mentioned and neither would the waste, and absorptive capacity of the environment.

According to Herman Daly:
“Studying economics in terms of the circular flow without considering the throughput of
energy and resources is like studying physiology in terms of the circulatory system without ever mentioning the digestive tract.”

With the Ecosystem as part of the Economy, “The Ecosystem is merely the extractive and waste disposal sector of the economy.  Even if these services become scarce, growth can still continue forever because technology allows us to “grow around” the natural sector by substituting of manmade for natural capital, following the dictates of market prices.  Nature is, in this view, nothing but a supplier of various indestructible building blocks, which are substitutable and superabundant.  The only limit to growth, in this view is technology, and since we can always develop new technologies there is no limit to economic growth.  The very notion of “uneconomic growth” makes no sense in that paradigm.  Since the economy is the whole, the growth of the economy is not at the expense of anything else; there is no opportunity cost to growth.  On the contrary, growth enlarges the total to be shared by the different sectors.  Growth does not increase the scarcity of anything; rather, it diminishes the scarcity of everything.  How can one possibly oppose growth?”

from “Ecological Economics” by Herman Daly and Joshua Farley

This chart includes the second law of thermodynamics and the environment, (putting the economy in its place.)

It is important to understand the nature of our resources moving not in a circular flow but from low entropy to high entropy.

Source: Herman E. Daley, “Beyond Growth”, p. 49,1996.

.  

The goal of an efficient economy would therefore be to find a sustainable level of “resource throughput” and recycle goods as much as possible, as is increasingly to goal of many cities such as Oakland.

© Herbie Girardet and Rick Lawrence, courtesy World Future Council

 

Economic growth and maximization of GDP seem foolish when considering the costs of growth.

The goal then of economies would change, and for this we can shift back to understanding human behavior, and attempting to value what is important to us.  Check out my human nature pages.  The neo-classical economists assume that humans are rational, self-interested and insatiable; and for this growth serves; but all of these assumptions have been proven wrong by modern sciences of the mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFMwV4tNeto&feature=related

Quotes:

“All economic activity is dependent upon that environment and its underlying resource base of forests, water, air, soil, and minerals. When the environment is finally forced to file for bankruptcy because its resource base has been polluted, degraded, dissipated, and irretrievably compromised, the economy goes into bankruptcy with it.”

—Gaylord Nelson

“You show me pollution and I will show you people who are not paying their own way, people who are stealing from the public, people who are getting the public to pay their costs of production. All environmental pollution is a subsidy.”

— Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.”
—Gaylord Nelson

 

Obama Speaks on Climate Change

On Tuesday Obama spoke on Climate Change; the need for action, his past actions and his plan for the future.

Obama brought us to the moon for the beginning of his speech. He recalled the first images of Earth presented by astronauts. Kudos to his speech writers. This beautiful imagery provides a place to stop and gain some perspective. The delicacy of our home, the feasibility of global climate trends and the beauty of earth were brought to life.

The next part of his speech displayed the frustration that must be felt by those pushing for environmental protection. He dropped terms like “science”, “97 %”, “Billions of dollars”, “floods”, “wildfires”, “droughts” and “Firemen”.

 

 

He then went on to tell us that action is required, outlining first what we has already done:
1. Pledged to reduce 2005 emissions by 17% by the end of this decade.
2. Doubled the electricity we generate from wind and the sun.
3. Doubled car mileage capability by the middle of next decade.
4. Building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades.
5. We are poised more of our own oil than we buy from other nations.
6. Today we produce more natural gas than anybody else.
7. Reduced carbon emissions to that of 20 years ago.
8. Since 2006, no country on earth has reduced it’s carbon emissions as much as the U.S.

His new plan, in his own words will “lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate”. His plan for a climate assault involves less dirty, more clean and less waste.

He went on to share a few interesting facts. The clean air act was signed by a Republican president and voted for essentially unanimously in the House and Senate. In 2006 the Supreme Court deemed it the task of the EPA to determine whether CO2 should be considered a harmful pollutant, and in 2009 the EPA decided that yes, it should, making CO2 subject to regulation.  Obama is directing the EPA to regulate power plants emissions of CO2.

He said that the determination of whether CO2 would exacerbate our climate problems was a huge factor in determining whether the keystone pipeline should be permitted to be built.

Obama then made a case for conserving economic growth despite regulations, pointing to past regulations as evidence.  He seems to believe that innovation and pioneering American spirit is what we need more of.

His new plan will
1. Again, double energy from wind and sun.
2. He will open up public lands for private renewable energy: enough to power 6 million homes by 2020.
3. Department of defense will install three gigawatts of renewable power on its bases.
4. End tax breaks for big oil companies, invest that money in the clean energy companies that will fuel our future.
5. Regulation for car mileage and truck, van and bus mileage.
6. Federal Government: run on 20% renewable energy in the next seven years.

Obama also mentioned preparing for impacts of climate change. He suggests any construction built with tax dollars will be built to withstand flood risk, forest fires and droughts and offers to share NASA data in aid to towns and cities.

He insists that the U.S. should lead the world in combatting climate change by:
1. Mobilizing private capital for clean energy around the world.
2. Aid others in switching toward natural gas.
3. Calling for an end to public financing of coal.
4. Global free trade in renewable, waste reducing technologies.
5. Teaming with China, India, and Brasil, to reduce hydrofluorocarbons and other emissions.

Obama says he is open to any ideas for combatting climate change, but can no longer deal with people who are still denying the threat of climate change.  He said: “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

Obama insisted that those listening “stand up for the facts”, speak loudly, invest, divest and work toward protecting future generations.

NASA: Earth from Space

He closed once again from the moon, looking down, and pointing out that we are fighting for “everything we hold dear, the laughter of children a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity, that’s what’s at stake, that’s what we’re fighting for. And if we remember that, [Obama is] absolutely sure we’ll succeed.”

 

 

While I am very happy that Obama stood up and created a plan for tackling climate change. I am left with a couple of questions…

International Leadership: We can hardly claim to be leaders yet. We have enormous emissions per capita as well as a devastating ecological footprint. Leading and opening up trade barriers for trade of technology does not necessarily lead toward the healthy development of other nations.  When a nations ability to protect their environment certainly seems tied to their sovereignty and health of their local economy, this seems almost perverse.  This is certainly not the easiest way to tackle climate change. Public finance and technology sharing would much more rapidly lead to mitigation but this puts more burden on the wealthy countries and less on the poor, and does not provide further open markets for corporations. Of course that line of thought belongs to the left.  This still begs the question. With regulation of CO2 alone can the private market solve climate change? This also demonstrates a total reliance on technology. Technology may be where both sides meet, but alone it may not be sufficient.

Environmental issues: While Obama spoke on climate change, there was no mention of biodiversity, soil, oceanic acidifications, or any of the other environmental crisis that we face. Solving this problem unilaterally by decreasing carbon emissions seems incredibly optimistic. Given that climate regulation and environmental health are certainly related, I am surprised this was not mentioned. I would like to have seen a hint at more systemic solutions. These may naturally follow an economy with less cheap abundant fuel.

Again though, I am happy that Obama finally stepped forward on climate change.  Some contributing factors to the timeliness of this speech may have been recent negotiations with China, the keystone pipeline decision, and the appointment of Gina McCarthy to the EPA.  This appointment may stir some conversation in the coming weeks.

The Fiscal Cliff: A long term solution

American politics has come to systemic paralysis, a lack of creativity, and is constantly stuck between two of the same old answers, which don’t get at the core of the problem.

One solution to raising revenues and balancing the budget… tax the wealthy.  This is based on the correct idea that the top earning 1% in this country are extremely high earners, and more money can do very little to help their welfare.  Meanwhile the country is facing serious economic constraint and could simply use some help.  It is perhaps ignorant to call those top 1% the “productive members of society”.  At the same time, we must understand that in some ways this elite group have played the game which we have constructed and been very successful.  In many cases, they are creating value for society, (one major exception being financial speculation sectors). Their visions and management (along with institutional support) have led toward job creation, innovation, cheaper products, and products which consumers buy.  In the words of ex-world bank Economist Herman Daly, “We have to raise public revenue somehow, and the present system is highly distortionary in that by taxing labor and income in the face of high unemployment in nearly all countries we are discouraging exactly what we want more of. The present signal to firms is to shed labor, and substitute more capital and resource throughput, to the extent feasible.”  In some ways, taxing the wealthy does seem counter-intuitive when attempting to raise revenues, bring jobs home, and remain competitive.

This view leads to the second option which is, lower taxes and allow the free-market to innovate, grow, and therefore create more revenue without raising taxes. A couple of reasons that this is not “just”:  1)  The government needs revenue, and a small percentage increase for the wealthiest tax payers makes an enormous difference in comparison with taxes on the middle class or poor.  2)  The public certainly do support the wealthy.  Infrastructure, a stable economy, laws, consumers, labor, academic excellence, a healthy society, publicly funded research and development, subsidies: These all contribute to the 1% shine.  3) The reason which no one ever mentions: Externalities.

How do we balance these seemingly opposing views?  Tax the takers, not the makers.

The cliff is a glacier?

A long term solution will mean avoiding the edge of the cliff, and ensuring that the foundation of our economy does not crumble.  The balance sheet must come to include natural capital. While countries have historically subsidized throughput from ecosystems in order to stimulate economic growth, Herman Daly argued in 1994 that counting the consumption of natural resources as income is backwards as the definition of income is “the maximum amount that a society can consume this year and still be able to consume the same amount next year.”  While privatizing profits from resource consumption and externalizing costs has been a strategy for raising GNP in the past, we have long since understood the flaws in this approach.  Yet, with the politics of the United States the question remains, tax the wealthy or free the “productive members”.  With an economic paradigm which takes “natural capital” into account, the phrase “producer” may gradually be applied to different sectors of the economy.  To deny that “productive” members of society exist certainly is being over-egalitarian.  To deny that “takers” exist in the 1% is ludicrous as well.  For instance, in 2008 ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) found that the top 500 companies of the world cost global economies 6.8 trillion dollars annually in lost ecosystem services.

Adam Smith understands the needs to tax the wealthy. “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” Daly agrees with Smith in that the “income tax structure should be maintained”.  At the same time however, as we redefine what contributes to national wealth we may be able to move toward an even more just solution. Daly continues, “Tax labor and income less, and tax resource throughput more.”

Herman Daly’s advice, from 1994 seems increasingly applicable today.  “It would be better to economize on throughput because of the high external costs of its associated depletion and pollution, and at the same time to use more labor because of the high social benefits associated with reducing unemployment.”

While Obama’s carbon tax was shut down early in his first term, perhaps it could become a part of the current negotiations. For this to become possible, it seems the congress and our nation as a whole could use a crash course in the importance of “natural capital”, so that we might continue to shift toward an economy which serves its purpose and rewards the productive members of society.

Daly’s full speech can be viewed at:

http://www.whirledbank.org/ourwords/daly.html

 

 

Why focus on “America”?

The Americas refers to any grouping of South America, Latin America, Central America, and North America.

However the slang in New American Paradigm refers to the U.S.A.

The U.S.A. has had hegemonic power for many decades now, and as a cultural export, a political power, a leader in the global economy, and powerful force in the ecosystem, the understanding, culture, and frameworks in the United States are of the utmost importance.

In a recent talk at Middlebury College in Vermont, the Dalai Llama said that the world is changing and that the U.S.A. needs to “catch up”.  This generally reflects my personal view.

Aljazeera recently published some wonderful graphics relating to a topic I find important: the Kyoto Protocol.

Aljazeera Infographic

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2012/11/20121118131411899744.html

 

 

Balance, not compromise.

What was missing in the debates?

In politics and economics two themes seem to emerge in almost every conversation.  On the right, Mit Romney has exclaimed “We believe in individual initiative, personal responsibility, opportunity, freedom, small government, the Constitution.”  On the left Bill Clinton and Obama have attempted to make sure the public know, that “We are all in this together.”  From the liberal view, government can and should support initiatives that benefit the collective, believing that what makes our collective nation strong, will benefit everybody.

This tug of war between individualism and collectivism seems to exist in every intellectual pursuit.  These themes were present in designing Democracy and opening trade barriers; from philosophy in education to philosophy in sports.

Mounting evidence is showing in neuroscience, that this ‘tug of war’ exists prominently in the human brain.  According to Iain Mcgilchrist, author, psychologist and Neuroscience expert, the left hemisphere of the brain is being understood as a “force for individuation” and the right, a “force for coherence.”

In ecology, Darwin’s theory, ‘survival of the fittest’ might be compared with E.O. Wilson’s work and the benefits of cooperation, explained in his new book, the “The Social Conquest of Earth.”

Evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris explains her study of the evolution of bacteria and the tendency of organisms to break out from “the whole”, like an infant becoming independent from it’s mother, becoming an individual, distinguishing itself, until cooperation is eventually required to evolve, culminating with a re-communion of a new whole. This seems to indicate that at times, individuation is possible and at others, integration is essential.

This brings us to the question, how do we know who is right, in any given moment?

To take again from Neuroscience, Iain Mcgilchrist explains that “Wherever the whole is not the same as the sum of the parts, the force for individuation exists within and subject to the force for coherence.”

Though governments and societies have feared the freedom of individuals, we know in the United States that this freedom of individualization is what allows for innovation, and specialization.  When these elements are combined with cooperation, we see success. This is how the free market functions, and the ecosystem itself functions.  Species who are able to both specialize AND cooperate have a serious advantage. Biodiversity has been shown to in itself, stabilize the climate.

In the United States we developed an incredibly sophisticated balance between the individual and the collective, but it has begun to destabilize.  However, in many minds the most pressing issue is not the integration of citizens with American democracy, or workers with the economy.  It is the integration of U.S. humans, and the U.S. economy with the ecosystem;  A subject entirely forgotten by our culture, but one which effects the economy, our health and our politics. Here is a piece of art from European History with a piece from the Aztecs, who both had advanced civilizations in a similar time period.

Mona Lisa, Lenardo da Vinci, 1503–1519
Xochiquetzal: Goddess of Flowers and Love, Codex Borbonicus, c.1525

The Mona Lisa, like most other european portraits, were at the very least confined to one species. On the other hand, in the Aztecs, we see a culture, whose temples were constructed with the stars and whose Gods and Kings were intimately connected with other creatures.  Portraits, never portrayed individuals alone without other species and elements of the ecosystem.

From the life sciences, the mind sciences and even economics, there seems to be great evidence that we are needing to recontextualize our selves within the greater ecosystem.  Climate change, species extinction, and human health are just three of many reasons that humans are needing to find a way to re-integrate with the greater ecosystems and exist in healthy exchange.  The parts are no longer consistent with the whole. Theories are far from practice, and systems are not sustainable. Alignment will mean that success within the system will mean success for the individual and society. Economists are beginning to see that economic theory is being overshadowed by the theories of physics, and ecology.  Resources are finite, subject to the laws of thermodynamics; inputs are not substitutable and waste is becoming very costly.

Most agree that the narrowness of political debate does not serve us.  According to the sciences, in order to truly re-integrate our vision, we would not be required to ‘serve the collective’ or ‘put ourselves first’.  To achieve a new vision would require transcending the ‘utility’ of the left hemisphere, transcending ‘enlightened self interest’, and even to transcend ‘group selection’. This allows what historian of science Thomas Kuhn would call a “paradigm shift”,  allowing a new vision for what is best for us as individuals, based on a new and improved understanding of how the world works and what is needed.  The goal of systemic changes are to find balance with individuality, integrity and service, without compromising the individual or the whole.

Notes:

People who have made this jump have come up with solutions like creating a steady-state economy, and different measurement indexes. People who want to correct inconsistencies have developed models like multi-tiered capitalism and green growth.  Incorporating a consistent model, Ecological Economics starts from a base level understanding that the economy is a subset of the ecosystem.  In the past Presidents and Senators have questioned the merits of GDP growth and the framework of ‘the ecosystem as part of the economy’. In 2010, 34 OECD nations signed onto a “green growth” platform.  Has anyone heard these concepts presented in the recent debates? I haven’t.

In the words of Milton Friedman, “.. government is essential both as a forum for determining the “rules of the game” and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.”

Naturally, government will require increased concentration of power, when the rules of the game stop adequately serving the citizens.

The 47 Percent Event

At a fundraiser in Florida Mitt Romney was secretly recorded while he discussed politics, Obama, and pitching to swing voters.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, Mitt Romney was making statement that he didn’t actually believe.  It’s as if hes playing for both teams; Romney manages to swing and pitch at the same time.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video from 94′.

During Romney’s pitch to funders he made the following comments: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.  All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsbility to care for them, who believed that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you-name-it; that that’s an entitlement.  And that the government should give it to them.  And they will vote for this president no matter what… these are people who pay no income tax…”

Here is one of the full clips…

Romney might want to consider the following:

In states Republican vs. Democratic States:

  • Average Republican Credit Score: 658.36
  • Average Democratic Credit Score: 671.39
In Republican vs. Democratic States:
  • Average Republican Salary: $38,855
  • Average Democratic Salary: $44,934
from: http://funancials.biz/democrats-are-richer-than-republicans/
It’s also important to note that of the group that don’t pay income taxes, most pay other taxes, many are elderly, many are students, there are poor and rich, and many are republican as well.
Again, at best we can hope that Romney was just seeking money and speaking what his funders wanted to hear.   At worst, he is ignorant about what truly makes people Republican and Democrat, doesn’t have good intentions with 47% of the country, and is all around radically out of touch with reality outside of the business world.

Watch other videos here:

SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters

Occupy Wall Street Anniversary

The Occupiers rallied again over this past weekend and into Monday, September 17th for an anniversary March.

Media reports say that numbers were quite lower than the year previous with perhaps 1,000 total occupiers and couple hundred arrests.  Portland, Oregon also held an anniversary march.

Media critics have focused in three areas.

Some believe that this is a movement guided by a jobless youth who are unhappy with the state of the economy.

“We’ve been locked out, people my age don’t have much chance of getting a job, so we have to do something to get people’s attention,” is a quote from one occupier who interviewed for a Reuters article.

This definitely seems to be a fair.  A percentage of the Occupy crowd march because of this issue.   It is possible that this  angst comes from a complex of economic problems, like betting and trading industries based on phantom wealth.  This is a large part of our economy which contributes instability to the economy with very little productive investment.  The income gaps in wealth between the top 1% of the nation and the 99% is enormous, as money continues to have more influence in politics and we are seeing increasing concentrations of power and wealth in corporations.

Economist Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, “First things first: The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.”

At the same time, as history goes and as the world goes, the current economy of the United States is not too terribly off.  When we look at the conditions for say, immigrants, or the hundreds of millions who live in slums in Asia, or the farmers caught between the police and guerrilla warfare in the Americas, or Indigenous populations begging for food in changed societies, I’d say the United States has managed to provide well for most sectors of their population.  Here we have a gap between the people who just want a job and people who understand that we are needing some systemic changes.

People say the movement is not holding strong.  Reuters explains, “The demonstrations attracted roughly 1,000 activists, down sharply from last fall, highlighting the challenge the movement has faced in trying to sustain interest in protesting against what it calls an unfair economic system.”  Umm.. haven’t the media been saying that since day one?  I personally don’t know of the last time a protest had it’s own anniversary.  Then again, perhaps the Tea Party and other organizations have found more funding sources and sustainability in their action.

Lastly, we have all heard that occupy folks don’t know what they want.

I believe that the true Occupiers don’t just want a job, and perhaps don’t just want the reform of one policy.

Gerry Williams a wood worker from manhattan described the new Paradigm he seeks in this poster.

Gerry is an occupier who felt called to the movement after a history of working to protect animals from unnecessary and cruel abuse in laboratory settings.  Gerry says he feels like “animal testing” epitomizes our “current paradigm”, the manner in which our systems and people “objectify life around us.”

Getting at the core of the inadequacy of Capitalism,  Gerry makes another broad sweeping demand with the statement “GIVE ME MY ECOSYSTEMS BACK”.

Corporate control and abuse of our planet is not just a problem of individuals, or policies, or politicians, it a cultural fixation driven by a system which promotes the conversion of ‘resources’ to consumer goods, and especially given the nature of our banking systems, does not promote the protection of public goods, or of the inherent value in other species.

Occupiers like Gerry don’t just march for their own benefit; they march in order to change the way we value the world around us, our U.S. and international citizens, and all other precious life on earth.

 

Notes:

Here were the four subjects of education on the website: OccupyWallStreet.org

  • The Occupy the K-12 Public School Narrative Thematic Breakout – will bring together students, parents, educators, community members and activists to discuss the Privatization of Public Schools and the Continuum of Resistance.
  • Money out of Politics Assembly: Together, we will: describe the parameters of this movement, it’s origin story, involvement with OWS, New York specific efforts, national campaigns and major organizational actors.
  • Strike Debt: Share individual and collective actions for those fighting debt in all of its forms.
  • Occupy for all species: An OTS teach-in to talk about ways we can commit ourselves to the struggle: All Day, Every Day.

ICE MELT

Watch an Arctic Cyclone Melt Ice over the period of a month.

Longer melting and seasons and shorter freezing seasons are causing record low levels in the presence of Arctic Ice.

Canis Lupus Wolf in the Arctic

According to the National snow and Ice Data Center there are 1.32 million square miles, which is about half of what has been normal between 1979 and 2010.  While we see declining numbers the last record low, was 1.61 million square miles in 2007.  That’s almost 20% in five years, as melting speeds.

Some models have put the melting of all ice by 2050, but so far all models are being surpassed. Aggressive estimates say that this may happen by the year 2030 or before.

NBC found a positive in the mix. Melting ice may open up shipping lines.  Thank you NBC!  Maybe Arctic ice melt will provide the boost our economy needs……….   Let’s change the paradigm!!