/* */

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama and dirty coal

I like the new commercials by www.thisisreality.org which point out the absurdity of the oxymoron "clean coal." Now today I saw an opposition commercial where Obama keeps hyping up "clean coal." I hope the commercial backfires and people will start to question Obama's support of dirty coal. To me, "clean coal" is like saying "clean dirt." Even if they could filter out 100% of the ash, it still gives off CO2, and they still have to remove mountain tops to mine it, messing with the headwaters and destroying ecosystems.

Horus and Jesus

Interesting reading:

"I'm sorry, but the more I read about the Egyptian religion(s), the less I can believe this argument that the myth of Jesus is based on the myth of Horus. The stories of their respective lives bare little resemblence, and the fact that some of the similarities cited seem to be simply made up doesn't bode well for the rest of the [Zeitgeist] film."


Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review: Agenda for a New Economy

“Agenda for a New Economy” by David Korten is on-message. The “best for last” item on his agenda is returning the function of money creation to the government, where it belongs, where people think it is but it isn’t. This is the message I have been staying on since last fall when I read “The Web of Debt” by Ellen Brown. As a loud cheerleader for “The Web of Debt,” I see my role as one to compare the two books.

Our Green Party Book Club selected Korten’s book, in part because it is only about 200 pages, compared to 470 for Brown’s. I was pleased to find out Korten’s book was available on the Kindle reading device. I had to order Brown’s book on Amazon.com, but it was well worth it.

I would say that Korten’s book is a more general overview of our economic crisis from a political perspective, while Brown’s book goes into more detail about economics, but she does it in a way that’s easy to understand. Korten states that he does not try to explore the specific ways that Wall Street swindled us. While I agree that simplification is the solution, I appreciate Brown’s explanations so we have an idea of what we’re up against. You can use her book as a reference, looking up hedge funds or derivatives in the index, and get a description of it in reasonably plain English. Korten’s book does not have an index, but the Kindle allows me to search for words if I need to.

Korten’s book was rushed to press in time for the Obama inauguration. He is a prolific writer; in other words, he cranks out a lot of books. The sections on pirates and patriarchal empire were a rehash from his earlier book “The Great Turning,” which I also read and recommend. He cites Brown’s book in his new book, and I was very pleased to see that. I guess I see the two Korten books as a gateway or table of contents to other great books. It was in the bibliography of “The Great Turning” that I found “When God Was a Woman” by Merlin Stone and “The Chalice and the Blade” by Riane Eisler.

Both “Agenda” and “Web” cover history. Actually, “The Great Turning,” at 359 pages, has a comprehensive history of 5,000 years of empire in Parts 2 and 3 of the 5-part book. “The Web of Debt” has a comprehensive history of economics woven throughout, particularly in the first 4 of 6 parts. “Agenda” may have enough history to whet the appetite for new readers.

In terms of writing styles, I feel that Brown has more of an aura of objectivity. Korten comes off a little more opinionated at times; making me feel fired up but also a little agitated. Brown’s more dispassionate analysis can be calming in times of crisis. She keeps it interesting though, with an underlying theme that the Wizard of Oz was really about economics, and stories of financial intrigue. For me it was a real page-turner. I guess where I’m at right now, far beyond anger, I just want the facts so I can draw my own conclusions. Maybe she rips the bad guys as much as he does, it just doesn’t seem like it because it’s part of a bigger story. I do like how Korten wants to shrink the Gross Domestic Product and just shut down Wall Street altogether.

And I did note some things in Korten’s book that I didn’t see in Brown’s. He points out how the world now has the UN and the Internet, encouraging tools which we didn’t have before. He realistically acknowledges the widespread problems being caused by population growth. He recommends urban density, mass transit, and local food production, all parts of what I call “the Green Party Vision.” He includes a 2084 vision, writing as a time traveler to a more optimistic, utopian, less cynical future. He includes a speech he would like President Obama to give, but he prefaces it by saying that he harbors no illusion that Obama will actually deliver it, given all the campaign contributions Obama has received from Wall Street. (I liked that.) Korten points out that the Founding Fathers needed to be pressured by the public even after the revolution to make this the democracy it is today, and that the public needs to pressure Obama even after he has won election. Korten also adds some words of encouragement, assuring us that we are making progress if we have taught anybody about these things, or if we have helped to put like-minded people in contact with each other.

Likewise Brown had a lot of things that weren’t in Korten’s book. A couple important things that come to mind are the basket of commodities to measure foreign currencies, and how to monetize, or cancel, the federal debt without causing panic or inflation.

So bottom line, I recommend both books, depending on how much time you have. Korten gives a good agenda, but so does Brown in her final chapter. I feel that Korten plays an important role in calling attention to Brown’s work, and builds upon it. But as for me, I have a fondness for the original groundbreaking text. While I give Korten a definite thumbs-up, I still regard Brown as the definitive economics pioneer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama on Schultz and Leno

When President Obama appears on Ed Schultz and Jay Leno this week, it might be a good time for him to ask people how to handle the Paulson bailout of AIG executives. (AIG, American International Group, is the company that said they would cover the bets on the stocks that consisted of bundled predatory and other sub-prime loans.)

If Obama acts against the leisure class, the Republicans will accuse him of socialism. I think it’s important right now for people to know that some aspects of socialism are ok, as long as the government is accountable to the people. If we’re going to embrace socialism, our elected leaders need to choose companies or hire managers who run their operations ethically and efficiently. If people don’t like how politicians are guiding a company, they can vote them out of office.

There can still be a role for the private sector, through the competitive bidding process, and depending on the industry. Some industries, like police, fire, and the military, are better off public. Restaurants and bicycle shops may be better off private. Telephone, cable, and electricity are probably best as a mixture of public and private. Banking needs to be primarily public, but as Ellen Brown describes in “The Web of Debt,” there can be a role for private lenders as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama should reject Bush policies

Green Talking Points: Obama should reverse course and reject Bush-Cheney policies on the drug war, illegal surveillance, executive power, and Social Security cuts:


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coleman false flag?

We may never know, but I wouldn’t put it past him. If he wasn’t so dishonest, the thought probably wouldn’t even cross my mind that this could be a last minute, desperate attempt to influence the emotions of the three-judge panel that will soon determine the outcome of the long, drawn-out election contest. On the other hand, a lot of people really loathe Coleman. To the vandals and the hackers, if you’re not with the Coleman team, stop! You’re not helping the progressive cause.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Debating the Dittoheads

Today I touched off a firestorm of controversy when I asked my dittohead friends, “Why does Limbaugh want Obama's policies to fail?”

One response was that Limbaugh wants them to fail because he knows they will fail. Another believes the policies are intended to give money to people who don’t want to work. I was asked why I wouldn’t want an opponent’s policies to fail. I explained that I opposed Bush’s policies, I expected them to fail, but if they had somehow created green jobs and homes, I would have praised those policies. I got a particularly negative reaction when I suggested that progressives did not want our troops to be killed in Iraq, and that that was something Limbaugh invented.

Perhaps we need to learn more about which policies the Republicans want to fail and what they think those policies mean, before we can understand why. Maybe it’s just some misunderstanding, and they’re not mean-spirited ideologues who want people to starve in the cold. I did not vote for Obama, but I want him to succeed at keeping people from starving in the cold.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Foreclosures, Ecosystems and the Economy

"If we had ever been here before we would probably know just what to do. Never before has the global economy slipped into recession because of new forms of financial machinations at the same time that massive global ecosystem collapse stares us in the face. What is offered to us as fixes by the economists and the government seem to be missing some crucial elements. This is my contribution to untangling the mess. Part 1 will lay out the problem. Part 2 will contain my suggestions on how to heal the economy." -- by Greg Gerritt


A realistic, big picture essay from a fellow Green.

Dow 3,000

Obama’s recent comments on the stock market sounded sensible to me. He said that price to earnings ratios were getting down to the point where it might make sense for investors with a long time horizon to get back into the market. Price to earnings is the price of the stock compared to the earnings of the company. To me, relying on the real earnings of the company seems a lot more ethical than cannibalizing the dreams of others, which is what you’re really doing if you manage to sell high at the peak of a bubble. I’ve heard that PE ratios usually need to fall to single digits before a turnaround, and that would put the Dow at around 3,000.

I currently have 100% of my thrift savings plan in government securities, but if the Dow drops to 3,000, then maybe I would buy some stocks. Please note I am not a financial advisor! I’m just saying that the declining stock market might not be a bad thing. Ellen Brown writes that we can have a robust economy and employment without inflation, income taxes, or the need for a gold standard if we print the right amount of money, invest it in the people, and reduce the role of the private bankers.

Who knows? Maybe Obama has read “The Web of Debt” and is already working with Brown behind the scenes to get our economy straightened out. NPR’s “This American Life” noted administration statements that there are no plans to nationalize the banks, but went on to say that if they were going to nationalize the banks, they would do exactly what they are doing now. They would deny it, work behind the scenes, and then take them over suddenly perhaps late on a Friday evening. Republicans are also talking about nationalization, but whatever they have in mind, I don’t trust it. I do trust Brown and her assertion that if banks are insolvent, they need to go into receivership. Let’s hope that everything works out ok.

Obama hears Single-payer

"Green Party leaders called the White House's reversal on excluding Single-payer advocates from a March 5 health care policy summit a modest but important victory for universal health care."


At least they got a seat at the table, which is an improvement. Still, we probably won't get Single-payer under Obama. And even if we do, I stand by my decision to vote against Obama, because he didn't advocate for Single-payer during the campaign.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Obama's Tenure Thus Far

“…it is clear that the Obama Administration is continuing the Bush policies for missile strikes inside Pakistan; torture; rendition for torture; public release of Bush Administration e-mails; illegal wiretaps; status of prisoners at the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan; and workplace immigration raids…”

Cynthia McKinney