The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Listening…

Even though I’m under strict Doctor’s orders of no stress, no over-exertion, etc., to recover from my recent stroke, I seem incapable of not talking or writing about serious issues.

Hard to truly discuss anything of importance in 5-10 minute increments, which is the medical directive.

Shall I let that deter me from discussing current events?  Heck No!

I’m guilty of not listening, too.

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Note* –  I believe the ‘bubble burst’ of 2008 was the predictable end of an economic game that has been played in a large continuous cycle  since sometime in the 14th century, and in smaller more local scales since we became civilized.

You may disagree and rightly so, as each cycle ends looking slightly or vastly different due to the details, but if you research the history of money, credit and high finance, I think you will find I’m not making this up.

Some knowledge of history floating around in the file cabinets of my grey matter (apparently undamaged by the stroke, as I can still instantly retrieve this info), means I simply cannot let casual comments regarding where the blame lies for our current situation pass by without commenting.

I’ve discovered it’s  impossible for me to state in 5-minutes or less all the pieces that form our current economic puzzle.   I try, but when I do, brains that have been well-schooled in the current social tactics of “Divide and Conquer” quickly jump to conclusions – meaning,  I spend 3 minutes sharing historical or mathematical facts and 30 minutes retrieving the listener’s brain back from pastures I never intended them to graze.

(Scratch motivational speaking or running for political office off my ‘Possible Career Choices’ list…)

Here’s an example:

Me: “Capitalism in it’s current form requires at least 3% growth every year in order to remain stable.   Translated, that means unlimited growth in a reality that is awash with evidence we are over-consuming natural resources to our detriment.  When you cannot sustain 3% growth in desired goods and services, then System Stability Needs dictate creation of growth out of thin air  – over-valuation of goods or  inserting fee-based paper-pushing activities between production or service steps are just two examples of how growth can be realized.”

John Doe: “What!?!   How can you even suggest we get rid of Capitalism?  Why it’s the best system on earth.   Are you a Socialist?  Marxist?  Communist?   Our country is the greatest on earth!  Now you tell me this – if we are so bad why does everyone want to immigrate here?  Huh?!?   Tell Me!” (envision Marvin the Martian’s chest huffing in and out due to angry breathing)

Me: “When did I say I wished to get rid of Capitalism?”

John Doe: “(Blank look)…well, you didn’t… not in so many words….but that’s what you meant….”

And the 30 minute retrieval process starts.

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The example given is one of many.   I used to think it was because people didn’t listen.

I don’t think so anymore.

I think it happens because of Fear.

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I propose our current problems are not close to being solved because there is a large majority of the population that does not have the time (or perhaps the inclination) to become well-versed in understanding the System in which they live and labor.

Not understanding, they secretly hope it continues to truck along in a  hunky-dorey manner.

When it doesn’t, deep down, individuals realize they don’t understand, don’t know how to fix it and feel powerless to do anything about it.

Feeling powerless means our “Fight or Flight” mechanisms are more easily triggered and we will fight with each other even when we don’t  know what, exactly, we are fighting about.

Not knowing  and in need of some kind of comfort, we easily move from Fear to Scapegoating.

Scapegoating makes it possible for us to feel in control again.   If we can identify who/what is to blame, we can destroy it and things will return to normal.

Who wouldn’t like to have that easy solution?

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I’ve observed with interest how the public outrage towards Systems (aka banks/insurance/mortgage industry)  in 2008 has slowly been turned towards Individuals (aka the Ubber Rich or The Stupid Middle-to-Lower Class people who bought more house than they could afford, or the rotten politicians or the greedy corporations – take your pick and you’ll soon find a group with which to align yourself).

In fact, these past few months, when the subject comes up, I rarely hear about the Systems in place that create the fertile ground for untold fortunes to be made and total collapse to occur.

I had hope the Occupy Wall Street movement was going to help educate the nation in the pitfalls of our current Systems and come up with some solutions on fixing them.

To my mind, media coverage indicates the movement has disintegrated into yet another example of blaming Individuals instead of examining all the pieces parts of the System in which we live.

Sigh…

Seems like everyone has been well schooled by their chosen group on Who Is to Blame.

If history is any indication, eventually, heads will roll in one or more sectors (figuratively, of course.  We are civilized, are we not?), more regulations put in place in a superficial attempt to once again fix the System and the game will start over.

Just like it did in France after the Mississippi Bubble … Which I direct you to, if you’d like to see how the 2008 version of the game was played in 1720…

An example of having more money than available goods or services dictate can be found in

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So now I’ve written in excess of 5 minutes – and will take my arse-chewing by the doctor next week with meekness.  And promise to listen and do better…

If you would like to spend your 5-10 minutes of exertion in better understanding money, financial systems and discovering how you can make a difference without waiting for some entity or ‘ism’ to save you – here’s the link:  New Money for Healthy Communities.

(And in case your brain jumped to “She’s endorsing Counterfeiting” here’s the retrieval speech:

“Read it first, then decide.”)

(Other Free or low-cost Resources include: The Ascent of Money, documentary series produced by PBS, The History of Money book by Jack Weatherford, or Wikipedia – List of Recessions in US, List of Stock Market Crashes)

Note – I love Wikipedia and use it frequently – this morning I found they are in need of funding to continue operation Advertisement Free.  I add my voice in requesting you to please consider lending your financial support in whatever capacity you can to Wikipedia.   I donated my paltry sum this morning and hope you will give whatever you can to keep Wikipedia advertisement free.     Just think, what a million people donating $1 each could do to keep this wonderful tool free to use and free of the demands (often unreasonable) of advertisers who wish to skew published information to their benefit!

Support Wikipedia

Spend Your Way out of Debt…

WTF?!?  Really?

Today’s post title came about via a documentary series entitled, “Turning Points of the 20th Century.”

Apparently, the United States was the last  developed country to go to gold standard.   1900 or 1903, if my memory serves.    Supposedly, this ratification stabilized our economy and allowed us to join the world market made up of all the other countries who had already realized the benefits of tying the symbols of wealth (currency) to something of value (gold).

Unfortunately, President FDR had to take us off the gold standard a couple of decades later.   Why?  Well, according to this documentary, it was necessary because,

“He needed to spend the country out of debt.”

Amazing.   I thought the way to reduce debt was to quit spending more than you had in abundance.   Apparently, that’s not so.

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This tidbit came to my attention 2 days ago.   This morning,  Ms. Capricorn Bookkeeper informed me that some organization is forecasting that by the end 2011, a loaf of bread will cost $20.45.

This concerns her.    Anyone who does the shopping of food, cleaning supplies, etc., for any household knows prices for “essentials” have been steadily rising these past months.    Overall, I’ve seen a $2- $4 increase in many items since last February.    Fortunately, the number of things I purchase for my household at traditional stores is only about 1/4 of my food/cleaning/personal care  budget – 3/4 of my budget goes directly to the producer, and quite frankly, I’m pretty pleased with their prices.    Yes, I don’t always get what I want, right when I want it.   Yes, I need to plan ahead and make do sometimes.   And sometimes, the supplier I count on to purchase (insert item) from once a year, in season, has gone under since my last yearly purchase.   Sigh….

But overall, the bulk of what I spend my money on has not increased that much in price since last year.  Thank goodness!

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I did mention to my friend that the battle cry for recessions, panics, wall street and mortgage industry collapses has always been, “Spend, spend, spend – once consumer spending and confidence returns, everything will level out.”

So my question is,

“Are we really headed towards things being so bad that bread will be twenty bucks a loaf?  Or is this a clever fear-based mass marketing campaign to get people to rush out and spend their money stocking up on food?”

See, I do sometimes read mainstream media – and the big stories for months have been, “People cutting back on spending – If consumer confidence does not rise, our recession will get worse”.

No matter what you’re spending your dollars on at traditional stores, you’re still spending into the system that depends on your consumption and confidence in order to exist.

(Sort of reminds me of the fortunes poured into the black hole known as the “Stock Market” of 1929 – – pour in enough money, folks, and we can save it!!!)

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Does anyone else see the gross (il)logic of “Spend your way out of debt”?    Are we really willing to continue to buy into, support and try to salvage a system that can only survive using this kind of logic?

Am I just a cynical ole fart that doesn’t have a PhD in Economics, so am simply too dumb and unsophisticated to grasp the real truth?

I’m pretty sure any system that is so complex, the average person cannot grasp or understand it, has probably been made so to hide the simple truth:

It’s not sustainable, It doesn’t work for all or long term and it will, sooner or later, collapse.

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I’m not really an Armageddon/2012 true believer – I really do have faith in human ingenuity, compassion and creativity.  And if everything goes you-know-where in a handbasket, well, then, guess I’ll find out which berries are poisonous in my neck of the woods….

I just get frustrated because history tells me the you-know-what has to hit the fan big time and over a wide geographical area,  before we band together,  put our individual desires for fame and fortune aside and instead focus on the well-being of both ourselves AND our neighbors.

When if we had banded together before and put our time, energy and resources (in other words, our wealth) into what really mattered, the fan wouldn’t have been struck in the first place…

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So, shall we wait until we hit rock bottom before we say, “Hmmm….this ain’t working…..” or are we willing to make some changes now?   Are we willing to change our priorities on what we buy and who we buy it from?   Are we, as consumers, willing to spend our way back to true wealth and abundance by taking what we do have to spend or trade and see just how much of our daily consumption needs we can get from those in our own communities?   Are we willing to invest in ourselves and our neighbors, rather than a far away company that may or may not be providing useful things that have true long term value?

Can we quit ‘making money’ and start generating true wealth and abundance?    Can we insist our symbols of wealth (currency) be actually tied to something of value (wheat, beef, carrots, sunshine, rain, etc., etc.) instead of seeing money as a commodity in and of itself?

Money is paper, folks.  You don’t control how much of it is printed, you don’t control what value it has and you often don’t control, really control, how much of it you can get.

You Do Have control over your own ingenuity and your ability to put your energy into things that sustain life – whether brain power or brawn or a combination thereof – That is what your real resources are.   And you may not think they are valued or worth much “money” today – but I’m telling you, band together with those in your neighborhood who are feeling undervalued by the system too.   Find out who grows food, who aids the body in healing, who knows how to go to the dump and find the parts to make a wind generator… or solar cooker…  They are out there And they are looking for you just as much as you are seeking them.

I say lets spend our way out of debt  – albeit not in the traditional fashion

Let’s invest in ourselves by investing the things we do have control over, our local renewable resources, our creativity and our effort.

I’ll say it again…strength in numbers.

Fear of Change

A couple of winters ago I was wandering around the local library – snow signals marathon reading at my house.   On a front display, I noticed The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins.   The subtitle, “From oil dependency to local resilience” intrigued me – 20 minutes later, there I am, in front of the Ben Franklin wood stove, educating myself.

Interestingly, the book is portioned into three sections – Head, Heart and Hands.

Head deals with the combined observations of both peak oil and climate change.   Looking at both of these, it becomes abundantly clear that just cutting carbon emissions is not enough.  Rebuilding local resilience is a must in order for us not to degrade ourselves back to Neanderthal status, once Oil is no more.

Heart deals with finding the personal and community tools, as well as the courage and confidence, to deal with what sometimes seems like overwhelming obstacles in the journey from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

And Hands places the flourishing touch on showing, by way of example, how towns in the UK have made their own transitions – a blueprint and honest appraisal of what worked and what didn’t.

As you guessed, my post today will focus on the Heart portion….

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Rob Hopkins reports that any successful transition from oil dependence to local resilience starts with a local town meeting that includes, as one of the initial activities, attendees sharing their thoughts regarding what the end of cheap oil really means to their daily lives.  In other words, an external dialogue about our deepest fears regarding the loss of our only known way of life.

“Change is the only constant” is most commonly attributed to Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher – we are all familiar with this quote.

Our heads and rational souls acknowledge this.

The beliefs and motivations driving our daily actions, are often, however, some 180 degrees the other way.  We strive to maintain what is known and comfortable.

In my own humble analysis, I believe the “fear of change” monster is kept well-fed by complex society.

When the amount and variety of information available as to how things really work is so staggering that one average lifespan is not enough to learn it all – it becomes oh-so-easy to feel inadequately informed about what is actually causing the problems and therefore, not very confident in coming forth with solutions.

Add to this internal disquiet caused by ‘not knowing’, unstable economic times, the responsibility and duty to provide for those who depend on you and the stress of wondering if you will have a job tomorrow, self-defense and coping mechanisms quickly come to the rescue.

Self-defense/coping can take many forms – but the most common seen in a society faced with serious issues is ‘”Delusion”,  “Distraction”, “Ostrich Syndrome” and last, but not least, “Scapegoating”.

Delusion

Definition: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence

Currently, we have a lot of this going on.   In the face of changing climate, massive oil spills and scientific evidence that fossil fuels are being consumed waaaayyyy faster than they will ever be replenished, we (myself included) tend to continue in a lifestyle that is not even close to being fossil fuel free.

Delusion #1 “Somehow, someway, off-grid living and renewable energy will become affordable and obtainable for all soon – until then, it’s our civic duty to keep working (even if that means a 50 mile commute) , producing and consuming.”

As Americans, for the most part, we are slowly losing ground every day in sustaining what’s touted as the American Dream, but we are so sure, given our freedoms, ingenuity and inherent work ethic that we can turn it around. (which is delusion #2. Please see Ostrich Syndrome and Distraction for details)

I do not know of Anyone in my circle in a position to say, “Ya know what?   I’m going to force industry to get us to solar sooner by not buying gas today, tomorrow or even next week.  That will get ’em moving. Nope, I don’t even need to own a car”, without really facing some very uncomfortable adjustments.  Course, I’ve been known to hang out with the wrong group at times…

I’m not judging…Remember me saying I’m included in the “We” group?   If there were no fossil fuels (or energy generated by such)  available 20 minutes from now, I’d be screwed.   Not like, “right away” screwed, but “fire drill have to do something soon” screwed.  (Plus, you wouldn’t even be able to read this commentary I’ve spent loads of personal energy on…)

I have dehydrators to process all the frozen meat in my freezer (meat faithfully purchased directly from a somewhat local-to-me producer) but, oops, I don’t have a way to generate electricity to run the durn drying things.

I have a lot of canning jars and salt in my garage, along with vinegar – maybe just maybe, I can get all my food stores preserved via fermentation in time  – but I’m not betting on it.

I also know my family is going to have to be facing starvation before they’ll eat my fermenting projects.  Subtle accusations regarding ‘poisoning’ and doubts regarding ‘food safety’ have permeated my home since my endeavors started.

Who cares that up until about 100 years ago, this was the way our ancestors prepared for winter in a culture that didn’t have Frigidaire…we now know it’s a miracle anyone survived long enough to reproduce without  pasteurization, antibacterial soap and modern preservatives…or so we’re told…

I have my year’s supply of wheat, again faithfully purchased direct from the farmer, but that doesn’t do me a lot of good, since my grain grinder works off electricity and even if I possessed a hand-cranked one, I probably don’t have the muscles or energy to grind out my daily bread.

I also am drinking my daily coffee while writing this… to my knowledge, coffee does not grow in Colorado…

My view of what the withdrawal process from TV and Xbox looks like probably echoes my family’s view of my quitting smoking experiments….

My household is not willingly ready to endure such commotion, at least not yet.

So along we drift, with our one car, energy saving lite-bulbs and Farmer’s Market produce, hoping total collapse waits for us to be prepared for it –  all the while quietly aware we probably won’t adjust to new ways until we absolutely have too.

This is known as Acknowledged Self-Delusion.

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The increase in “For Rent”, “For Sale” and “Bank Owned” signage in my area, coupled with seeing these same properties remain empty for months, tells me the mortgage and real estate industry, along with private property owners would rather let a house sit unoccupied for 3 – 6 months or more, rather than reduce their sales price or rent requirements.

History has deluded us into believing that both up and downturns are par for the course and if you have managed your affairs properly, you will survive the downturn and really make a killing when the upturn arrives.

I truly question the possibility of an ‘upturn’ being accomplished by elected officials and big business.   Most of my circle agrees – yet still, the debates rage on about how stimulus packages should really be spent, what’s needed to stem unemployment rates rising, etc….

Which leads me to the next evil ….

Distraction

Okay, if you’re a girl, ignore this next part.    I look like a girl, but somehow did not inherit the ‘need shoes and purse to match every outfit’ gene.  So my recent epiphany on what I choose to spend my money on is no big surprise.  I somehow was graced with defective genes that make it much easier for me to focus on food, local needed services and products as the bulk of my expenditures and give up the luxuries (more shoes and clothes than I can wear in a week, books than I can read in a lifetime or computer software and cars that depreciate by 3000% the moment I hand over my debit card.)

I’ve been Distracted into thinking that solely by amending what I purchase, from whom and in what quantities,  I can save the world.   But note, I live in an economic system that relies on unlimited growth and expansion in order to survive.   I’m not sure ‘no limits’ and ‘sustainable’ can simultaneously be linked with the word ‘lifestyle’ in my current plane of existence.

Already, news stories are touting the gloom and doom attached to Americans ‘saving more’ and ‘spending less’ – remember that Capitalism needs to realize 3% growth every year in order to be a viable system.   3% growth does not occur when people are not buying.

My brother calls weathering uncertain economic storms as ‘hunkering down’.   As a nation, it seems, we’re in ‘hunker down’ mode.    Cries of  ‘smaller government’ and ‘less spending’ and ‘save for the future’ lead many current grassroots movements.

The problem is, we have been Distracted from the fact that erasing the government debt will actually be the death blow to our system.   Remember that 3% growth thingee?   Well, monetizing government debt is one way to create new money (and expanding government counts as new growth and new jobs, no matter how violently it is opposed.)

I will also note that Public Works projects during the Great Depression did result in useful infrastructure creation and repairs.  (think dams and nationwide highway systems).   Our current Public Works project to create new jobs is called the US Census.   We spent a lot of money to count people.   So we know where to spend money we don’t have.

Interesting side note – the gain of 71,000 new jobs in July was quickly lost by the 143,000 temporary Census workers whose jobs ended.

I can think of a lot of other ways to spend the money flushed on the Census – but then, hey, remember, I’m a political non-sophisticate.  I’m too dumb to understand the finer nuances regarding government, finances and economy.   Right…..

So successfully have we been distracted from how our economic system really works, if our pleas for smaller government and no debt were actually answered, our whole way of life will collapse like the proverbial house of cards.

(If you think I’m crazy, then please take some time to read the following: How Money Is Created)

We are all aware of debt – ours, the government’s etc…  But realize that in the 70’s, when a ceiling was put on the Labor Market (hence, limiting earned income that could be spent and therefore, threatening the stability of Capitalism)  the source of our current woes WAS the solution.

In short, here’s the overview:

“Yes, in order to make new business ventures profitable and investment in such desirable, then we must limit what is spent on labor, in order to maximize profits.   Oops…if the laborers aren’t earning, they can’t purchase the newly created products and services.   How do we solve this?  Oh, give ’em credit cards.  Problem solved…. “

Again, if you do not believe me, take a gander at this perspective of Capitalism.

I’m reminded of Loretta Spark’s observation: “Every Problem used to be a Solution”

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Ostrich Syndrome

In a nation  raised on the tenets of individual freedom,  hard work coupled with perseverance equals success and anyone can make it if they are determined, actions I label as “Ostrich Syndrome” coping,  are touted as our greatest strengths and saving grace by others.

So many in my circle put their nose to the grindstone and persevere in working harder, working smarter or working more – secure in the fact that hard work and ingenuity will win the day.

Not so.

When you are not in a position to independently set the value of your own labor (value of the US Dollar) or possessions –  when the fruits of your labor must pass through numerous hands before making their way back to you (taxation, debt interest and regulatory fees), when your local supply and demand formula can be ruthlessly exploited by the non-local, (tax breaks for big business and business travel), then you can work yourself into the ground,  producing the best product for the best true price and still go under.

Being a ‘good worker’ is laudable, but if the system you labor within is a complex and cleverly disguised version of serfdom, your dreams of being rewarded for hard-work will never be realized.  Short term illusion, yes.  Long term reality, not possible.

So instead of depending on working longer and harder, spend some of your time getting real clear on exactly what system you labor under.   See how much control and empowerment you have within that system.  And then decide if it’s worth putting your back into…

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Scapegoating

Definition – The act of singling out an individual or group for unmerited treatment or blame.

This will be a short section – really, a historical list is all I have to say about it (I’m just hitting quick-to-type highlights, this is by no means all inclusive):

  • Salem witch trials
  • Nazi Regime
  • Most modern political campaigns
  • The start of most wars

When folks are scared on a deep level, it becomes very easy to point fingers (and believe) where the root of all their troubles lies.

Scapegoating wastes a lot of time that could be spent on figuring out solutions, but it continues to be a favorite activity of those who wish to gain converts to their way of thinking.

I’m less interested in who is to blame and more interested in how do we fix it?   Trust me, in your quest to identify “how-to-correct” actions, you will discover any and all contributing factors to the problem, your own actions included.

As Forest Gump said, “And that’s about all I have to say about that.”

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I’m not denouncing us as blind idiots or sheeple.   I am certain though, we are all, to some extent, easily led by grand misinformation campaigns, which flourish in a complex system.

My new mantra is, “It’s only as complex as I buy into.”

Simplicity is focusing on what’s needed for daily survival,  how to fulfill those needs via your own local backyard and then taking steps towards working within that system or creating that system if needs be.

Remember, there are plenty of folks around you who wish to do the same.   Some just aren’t sure where to start.  Others are fearful of what drastic change will mean to their daily life.

Lunch at the Farmer’s Market while discussing what’s really important to you and how deep your fear and insecurities run, with your neighbors is a beginning….

Identifying where you and yours do have power and what you’re willing to support via your energy is the next.

One step at a time, We The People can persevere.

As I once told a discouraged process improvement team; “Change is coming down the pike.   Let’s get our two cents in now and direct how that change occurs.”

The New Robin Hood

Okay, brace yourself.   The following information will contain contradictions galore.   It is not going to be an answer or solution for anything, but will raise a lot of questions…

You’re still reading?   Okay, but never say I didn’t warn you.

Fresh off the presses some days back (I have a bookmark file labeled “To Blog About”) was the following story: Credit Card Fees transfer Wealth from the Poor to the Rich.

Not any shocker there.   Any thinking person realizes that merchants must raise their prices in order to sustain profit margins in the face of per-swipe and transaction fees.   Credit card companies with the best ‘customer rewards’ also charge merchants the highest fees – c’mon, those ‘free’ plane tickets have to come from somewhere and you can bet your boots it’s not from the credit card company’s profits.

The not-so-well-qualified buyers pay the same price or more for something than the well-qualified buyers.

Because of my first hand knowledge of the exorbitant merchant fees by Discover and American Express and the lower (yet still costly) fees by other brands, I have tried very hard to limit my use of debit/credit cards.   Cash is how I like to deal and have done so for years.

This does, of course, cut off my nose to spite my face – not using credit means your score becomes the subterranean level of the whole building.   On the plus side, you’re naturally safe from identity theft without paying $39.95 per month for protection.

On the other hand, I have a sneaking feeling that if everyone did this, the banks would have the same problem they encountered in 1929 and other well-known years.   We’ve been lured into the ‘electronic, paperless’ banking system for so long, I really wonder if there is enough printed money for everyone to function off cash alone.

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Which brings me to my next thought.   IF we all went to paying cash for expenditures, would there be a rash of DEA seizures and arrests?    ‘Cuz, ya know, one of the first alarm bells for those folks regarding where to search for large scale happy plant growing is when a local corn farmer pays cash for a new John Deere tractor with all the bells and whistles….

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And ultimately, my brain winds it way back to what ‘cash’ really represents.

It represents the ingenuity and labor of workers who take raw materials and turn them into something life sustaining, useful, beautiful or entertaining.

Which leads me to thinking, if unemployment is so high, and people aren’t working, then the symbols that represent that work should be in short supply too.

And if fewer people are working, there should, by mathematics, be less to oversee, manage, regulate and invest in, meaning government, CEO’s and stockbrokers as well as gamblers (I mean ‘investors’) should be hunkering down with everyone else.

I don’t observe  this to be happening.  It seems government, regulations and the financial services markets are expanding.

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I see too, that I’m a day late/dollar short on starting a local community exchange currency system.   Apparently, California is starting to issue voucher money.   (translation, their own currency)  If they have followed in the footsteps of South American communities who did the same in the ’80s and ’90s, and have done their homework, I suspect they will realize success.

Other states will follow – soon communities everywhere will have wrested back the control of their economy via their own efforts, instead of waiting for Washington to decide if they are worthy of the fruits of their own labor or not.

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I still question how much the Free Market movement will save us, given the basic fact that for Capitalism to work, it must gain 3% growth each and every year, which means, it’s a system that cannot function within limits.  As much as sustainability efforts try for a goal of 100%, it’s a goal that is, to our current way of viewing the world, unattainable.

On the flip side, the metaphysical groups will cite “Energy can neither be destroyed nor created, only transformed” and that we need only function within the laws of the universe in order to realize untold abundance. (aka, “No Limit Living”)

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My friend Tish, owner of The Good American Post and That’s Natural, has been quietly encouraging me to get off my duff and get started with the Create A Community Exchange system.   I

‘m hesitating.   Primarily because I’m focusing on getting well so I have enough energy to pull off this endeavor.   I hate starting something and petering out before it’s realized. (Which I’ve done many times in the past years – remember my tendency for my mind to write checks my body can’t cash?)

I’ve also hesitated because initial conversations with local merchants didn’t show much interest.   Can’t figure out if I didn’t communicate properly, if it really sounds to good to be true, or if in this day and age, anything suggesting that you really can be the master of your own domain is so unbelievable that I just sound like a charlatan.

Also, for those who are busy actually running a business or working for a living, there isn’t a lot of free time to do all the researching and reading I do.   And the concept of having your own local currency and how to make it work is not something I’ve figured out how to succinctly explain in 500 words or less.  (I am working on it – 2 drafts sit in my “in progress” folder as you read this…)

So in the end, I decided to start writing short little ditties with links to the full story.   I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my job is not to realize anything, only raise the interest and point people in the direction of further information.

If it is, then I’m up to the challenge, right now.