Monday, November 12, 2007

The Big 3 E's: Energy, Economy, Environment

Although I would like to believe that we can invent ourselves out of the coming limits to economic growth due to energy depletion, I'm afraid believing that would have me operating under the same delusion as the compulsive gambler who continues to bet on the "come" that has long since gone. The gambler's addiction to the thrill and to the elegant lifestyle temporarily brought him by his prior winning streak keep him searching for some reality base for his continued attachment to speculative investing in his illusion, but the money is running out along with his credibility.

As much as I hate to give up my own use of a positive frame when I'm feeling pessimistic about things not looking so good, I'm afraid I'm going to have to bite the bullet on this one. The combination of peak oil (depletion of cheap, efficient energy ), progressive climate change, and refusal of political-economic leaders and the general public to accept the limits to economic and population growth in a closed ecological system like that of the earth is creating a "perfect storm". We are past the point of no return in having any opportunity to make corrections (any effort in that direction is like "changing the chairs on the deck of the Titanic"). The outcome of the energy/climate crisis is fairly unpredictable when there is no cooperative vision or joining of forces and ideals to weigh in as support for a positive future.

The current population numbers can't be supported without a cheap and effective source of energy like we have had with oil for the last century and, at present, there is no such source. We're going to be scraping for energy and water, and it will only be worse if we continue to breed bad relations and create enemies with other nations. Barring a global or national cooperative effort for gearing down our current rate of consumption and educating the public about the critical necessity of wisely using our remaining resources--for sustaining life, for survival, then I think the course we must take is to organize on local and regional levels to prepare for the worst.

Apparently more people and groups than I realized are beginning to do this--to form "intentional" communities with that intention--survival and preservation of knowledge/culture accumulated in this most recent experience of human being. Suggestions are being made that we need to start educating people on a local basis about civics, constitutional law, good governance, gardening, cloth making, etc.--we may have to start over! Or, at least, to develop a very new lifestyle and social structure. I am ready and I believe the time is right to move in this direction. I believe this effort needs wise leadership and I believe it is up to our generation to implement this grassroots movement--we have the power of numbers, the power of money, and the obligation to pay back what we have taken. (Well the largest proportion of us baby-boomers are in that position, anyway.)

I'm glad to see Mayor White supporting the predictions of the peak oil scientists by forming an office of sustainability and declaring Houston will build only green. It's a good start when public officials are making statements that acknowledge what is coming. Also some people from the oil industry and the U of H Future Studies program (at a conference on peak oil in Houston a few weeks ago) are speaking out--their statements ring clear and true. "Here it is for what it's worth", is how they offer it.

I am also glad to see someone like Al Gore who is a known public figure taking on a role of leadership in acknowledging the climate change factor and urging the public and the powers that be to heed the warnings and begin to act now according to critical reasoning rather than compulsive mass delusion. Otherwise, there will be no reasoning, no organizational infrastructure when reality dawns, there will only be panic and strife/violent competition for the "remains of the day".

The books I have been reading are Heinberg's "The Party's Over", "Powerdown" (and he has a new one coming out); Bill McKibbons "Deep Economy and "Blessed Unrest", Meadows, Meadows, & Randers' "The Limits to Growth: 30 Year Update", Gore's "Assault on Reason", Eisler's "The Wealth of Nations", Lietaer's "The Future of Money", Aburdeen's "The Rise of Conscious Capitalism". Also Lakoff's works from the Rockridge Institute.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Growing a Grassroots Economy

I feel encouraged since the energies have shifted, relieved, too, of feeling so held back. It's as if the time is finally right. I have been doing this intensive study (my MO) and training--and I do see some ways change can happen -- will happen -- and, definitely, in our lifetime. It's happening NOW! And we do have the opportunity to be directing that change towards a design that benefits us all. It's helped me to make a clear commitment--and move forward past the point of no return--it's scary as hell, but once you do it, it's very freeing--very energizing! I feel myself moving towards my destiny. Guess I better be ready, huh?

I think corporate power will be limited because the financial system is going to fail--it's waaay out of balance--and oil energy is not going to be available to run it even if it could remain stable. I believe the current system is in its final throes and going out kicking and screaming--and trying to drag us all along. But even if we find a place of safety for weathering the storm, no place will be safe from the failure of the system to function--to supply everyone with what we need to live.

I believe we need to start forming local economies and ways to live much differently than we do now. We need to be prepared to survive and thrive if the system should shut down suddenly. I'm not suggesting the end of the world scenario, just that there will be massive change, and it's uncertain at this point how rough/primitive it might get before it can be reconstructed/reformed into a new economy. I guess that depends on how successful we are in gathering people into cooperation before it gets really bad.

Anyway, I'm for building strong a grassroots group who can build a relationship economy--one that can work together, hope together, feel pride in what we are doing together--and let it grow from us--be a cell in a growing organism of new economy, new governance. Yes, this is the idealist and the cynic speaking out of one mouth, here! :-) It can be done if we do it!

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world." -- John F. Kennedy

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Building an Economy of Heart*

It’s been some time since I’ve spoken with you, readers. As I’ve mentioned in my blog, I have been, for a while, in a period of re-orientation—one that has refined and adjusted my lens of perspective so that I am now coming into a different focus and have begun to speak in a new way. Where I began my writings to you in 2003 through means of metaphor and rhyme, and continued my message in 2006-7 through the engagement of cultural myth and metaphysics (feeling that introspection and reflection upon my experience of life so far may be of value to others), now I find myself at a point in the process of self and soul expression where words of power and action are necessary.

For some time now I have pursued a spiritual perspective in understanding and coping with the happenings of our time. I have trusted in the dogma of the new thought alliance which has attempted to make a marriage between science and spirituality through developing a “unified theory of everything” that reassured us that, through attention, intention, desire, and prayer, we could change the world—a world we couldn’t change by our political action in the 60’s-70’s. And if we could not effect change by the former or the latter, we could, at least, hold ourselves in a frequency of peace and effect the same in our outer world (in the way of alchemy). We expected, in this paradigm, that the outer appearance of strife would worsen as the old ways, though weary and worn, were clung to by those who ruled under their sanction of power. Clearly, the ruling powers, both political and economic, would fight hard to prevent our seeds of consciousness from sprouting into a full blown vision of shared power and partnership in a caring economy.

And true to our understanding of the process, this war in the consciousness of humankind, has created war, chaos, and destruction in its physical expression. Many of “our kind” still maintain that holding the “OM” will get us through the fluctuating vibratory themes in the chaos of consciousness—warring beliefs, truths, philosophies, economic theories and ideologies—to the promised land on the other side of the storm. But, my friends, there does come a time when we can no longer remain in the blessing of the blueprint—we must act to manifest that which we desire from the ethers of inspired vision. We must sound the gong and initiate the call to action to fulfill the dream we so desire. And fulfilling the dream requires that we, together, formulate a clear and detailed plan of action.

Yesterday, I was reading an article (“Making a More Perfect Constitution”) by a professor, the director of U. Va.'s Center for Politics, Larry J. Sabato, who has spent the last ten years developing his dream of Constitutional reform and is publishing a book explaining his reasoning and his proposals. He indicated that such a process of reform (as is currently outlined in our Constitution) would likely be a ten year process. I commented that if we were to apply our energies to a ten year process of reform, it would better serve us to focus upon curbing the current abuses and excesses of corporate power, the henchmen of which are taking egregious liberties with our common good. Corporate interests have, over the last thirty years willfully and strategically infiltrated our government, our economy, our environment, our healthcare, and now are directing our military in an unlimited war with the Middle East for control of the supply and price of oil while we have been asleep at the wheel! (Or while reassuring ourselves meditating on the great OM!)

In my comment, I wondered why some of the progressive think-tanks such as the Rockridge Institute (who have been instrumental in developing a new narrative frame for progressive political thinking which successfully counters the neo-conservative rhetoric holding our public and its policy captive) haven’t been brainstorming about how to implement a new vision of economy, a more caring economy, that would act to preserve the common wealth of we the people, of our communities, both locally and globally. As you know, readers, I have been using the cycles and phases of the moon to guide my active imagination and my work of intention and manifestation, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, that no sooner had I announced my desire for a comprehensive plan of action, that in the fullness of the moon, I was given its unfolding in a clear and tangible form.

In my very next session of internet wanderings, I came upon “Yes” Magazine’s fall issue
which carries the theme: “Stand Up to Corporate Power”, and includes a diversity of articles which speak according to a frame of reference being developed by a think-tank and social change group known as the Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI). This initiative is an organically formed group, one which has naturally come together after spending the last twenty years individually involved in developing strategies and campaigns for protecting the common wealth and good from assault by unethical and opportunistic power groups. See information about this group and its formation in the box below.

Over the past two decades, each member of SCI has been involved in often-successful campaigns to curtail excessive corporate power, from rainforest protection to social investing. We have worked on campaigns to abolish toxic chemicals, defend labor rights, advance corporate ethics, and block international trade agreements.
While we have helped make large corporations more responsible, we’ve failed to make them less powerful. We’ve come to realize that without unified action, we may win battles, but we will lose the war.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative is our attempt to ignite a critical discussion on the path forward. We believe that, if united, the scattered movements already creating change can be the catalytic force to create a humane, sustainable, democratic society and economy.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI) steering committee is made up of the authors of this issue's lead article,
Who Will Rule?, Michael Marx, director of Corporate Ethics International (CEI) in Portland, Oregon and Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, with the Tellus Institute in Boston; along with John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, and Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC; Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy in Washington, DC; and Mari Margil, formerly with CEI and now with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

The SCI group put their heads together, integrated the wisdom of their diverse, yet common experience as agents of change, and developed a highly organized, intensive plan suggesting strategies that would change the very nature of the [corporate powered] market system, making it less destructive of the common wealth. These strategies, they say, would enhance the "countervailing powers" (those of the citizenry) to restore democracy. A central theme of their vision is the care and repair of livable communities, communities of people who have regained control over their futures. Communities are the front lines in the battle for bringing power back under the control of the people, for “bringing corporations back under citizen control”. Communities, they say, are where the movement begins, and I agree! See what you think of their plan. (By the way, it is quite readable—it is organized into three sections: an outline overview, then a short summary outline, and finally, a detailed proposal following the original outline that is quite lengthy--"126 pages of sanity", said one commenter of my posting on the Daily Kos!)

The section dedicated to community care and repair through building economic relationships and empowering people with choice is the part of the larger plan that is of central interest to me. This is the section that touches into the territory of my thoughts about local community economies and forms of exchange that are a complement and an aid to the larger system. I will be writing more to you on this topic as the thoughts form coherence.

*See article by David Korten

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Question for our Time

On the question of healthcare:

If we think outside the box--pull from the inventive, from the unconventional realms of our thinking, aren't there some alternatives that would allow us to be less dependent on a large and distant, faceless, impersonal, unapproachable, and impervious system (whether corporate for-profit or public) to control and provide for our most intimate and personal needs? (Like what about the possibility of supplementing healthcare payments with local alternative/complementary currencies that would put "relationship" and "community" back into healthcare?)

Can anyone explain why in the 50's, 60's and the first part of the 70's we could afford to pay out of pocket for our healthcare needs, only needing insurance for catastrophic illnesses? I know I paid for both my Caesarian births and hospital stays with very little supplemental insurance. Could the main problem we're experiencing have more to do with the structure of our economy and our tax system being geared to gathering and preserving the wealth into the top .1% of our population (whose income rose 296% between 1979 and 2005 while that of the median household only rose 13%--Krugman's blog below)?

Hasn't this resulting loss of prosperity, of financial security within the broad ranks of the middle and working classes contributed to unaffordable healthcare? How about runaway corporate crime in partnership with political leadership? Dependency on an oil economy? And what about an unthinking large number of baby-boom investors (and 401K's) supporting this system of greed through its economic dependency upon it (investment in stocks and bonds--hedge funds)?

Shouldn't we be considering restoring progressive income tax and other reforms that would redistribute the wealth and its availability to the middle and working classes? Wouldn't that make "personal" healthcare affordable to the majority of "we the people"--(supplemented by insurance for catastrophic conditions)? And certainly, for those in circumstances of poverty and those who give or have given unpaid services to family and community there should be Medicare type provisions.

But shouldn't we mainly be asking the question why we would allow our economy to be debt-based, since this form, by its very nature, creates poverty and sustains it through policies supporting constant economic growth (which requires continued debt creation)? I admit I'm not at all educated in the field of economics, but some very simple explanations by Bernard Lietaer (one of the developers of the Euro-dollar currency) in his book, "The Future of Money", made this situation quite clear to me.

I've been claiming "it's the economy, stupid" for a long time, but I was glad to see today Paul Krugman's (NYT) blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal" pointing to the economy and major economic shifts being the primary and immediate issue needing to be addressed by us all--and to hear he's writing a book on the same subject. Here's the intro to his book:

"I was born in 1953. Like the rest of my generation, I took the America I grew up in for granted – in fact, like many in my generation I railed against the very real injustices of our society, marched against the bombing of Cambodia, went door to door for liberal candidates. It’s only in retrospect that the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional episode in our nation’s history."-from

And here's an excerpt from the intro to a book I began last year pointing to the same issue (with my own twist to the plot):

"My generation, seeded in the sixties, recklessly wrought their brave-hearted assault up the walls from the path of least resistance, only to reach their peak at the ridge where reluctance and relapse dramatically drew them back into the vibration of the host mother’s economy of placental charm. Here all her mesmerizing material, emotional, and psychological seductiveness has held them where they languish still, deeply entangled in their dependency on her failing economy. Addicted they are to her homing frequency which lulls them into an illusion of false security and freezes them into a pattern that can only end in death.

It is not a death, however, in which they currently sleep, but a deep and drug-induced dream that locks this beauty in her tower of captivity. Here, she has been unwittingly, steadily, and deviously drained of her life-blood by an economy that ruthlessly feeds off her essence while paralyzing her with poisoned perceptions of reality..."

It's my premise that a generation awakened to conscience and to maturing consciousness, "Our Generation", the baby-boom group that through its sheer numbers has altered the culture at each and every stage of its development, is now empowered and so should feel compelled to make the changes that will sustain us all (humanity, and what we value as human beings) for the future. It is time to envision and activate, as "elders", wise and responsible economic and political leadership, and for the generation behind us, Gen-X, to join full-force into that mission, and for Gen-Y and those following, to responsibly hold our feet to the fire 'til we get it done!

Doesn't it just make sense that if our economy were working for the good of all people, there would be affordable and personable healthcare? And that we would be taking care of the environment on which we are dependent for the survival of all life? So isn't the economy the bigger issue? How do we wean ourselves from what is poisoning us and restore ourselves to the "pursuit of health and happiness"? That's the big question for our times. And there's a link below to a chart from Krugman's blog showing major economic shifts over the last 90 years--he says:

"The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income –an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. I’ve added labels indicating four key periods."

OK, so shoot me, I think like a weirdo!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Labor Day Evaluation of Current Economic Practices

I've been following Michael Lerner and his Spiritual Progressive movement, his magazine, Tikkun, and his call to us in the psychotherapy professions to use our "social-psychological wisdom" in helping to bring about reform. I'm posting this announcement of a new e-zine he's set up that includes space for comments and for your own contributions in case you might be interested.

Lerner makes a point that his "spiritual progressive" terminology is inclusive of all belief systems. He's recently written a book called "The Left Hand of God" suggesting ways of taking back our country from the religious right. He suggests a "Global Marshall Plan" and a "Strategy of Generosity" regarding restoration of territories world-wide that have been torn by war (and economic greed).

In these linked pages there is information pertaining to my pet interest--growing new varieties of alternative and complementary local economies based on building better relations within a community. At the same time these alternatives might offer us protection from the fluctuations taking place in the mainstream or global economy. Below are some links, one to the Spiritual Progressives' page which gives affirmation to organizations putting these new forms in place, and the other to a site giving a cognitive framework for such enterprises. "Transformation Central: Solidarity Economies".

With Labor Day approaching, it is a good time to think about the nature of your work and get some clarity about the requirements of a working economy. This article from Tikkun offers suggestions of how you might spend your Labor Day with family and friends doing an assessment of your work ethics and an evaluation of our current economic practices in the U.S. to see how well they integrate with your core values.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Day at the Kos

No takers on Axis of Weevils? Aw, I thought it was kind of funny—in a cheesy sort of way. Sigh, oh well, you can’t please all the people all the time! I’ve been away from Blogger-ville for a few days now as you can tell by my lack of postings. I’ve been trying my wings at Daily Kos. Yes, my friends, I’ve set up a “diary” there (maybe that’s the more “upscale” term for blogs ?) I can only guess since I’m new to the whole realm of blogging. I momentarily supposed that the change from "blog" to "diary" was made as a means of projecting a more serious, professional, and purposeful image in the blogging community, but I was informed this had been the accepted term of use for some time.

I recognize among the "kossacks" a desire to become a more powerful and credible force of influence within the Democratic party and within politics in general. And they are well on their way! Just recently--they were acknowledged at the Yearly Kos Convention by the presence of the Democratic primary candidates who who made themselves available for questions. There's a lot discussion these days on the net and among the media about running the campaign coverage in such a way as to include more public participation. There's much excitement to be found among those involved about this possibility of change--one which empowers "we the people" in the political process.

Yep, they are feeling pretty high over there, I can tell. There's much interaction, much more so than here on Blogger. Lots of action--so I spent most of last weekend there learning what the action is, and consequently learning many details about current events, political candidates, and in general just what other “progressives” are thinking about where we are as a nation on many different counts.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Axis of Weevils – Don’t Nuke ‘em, Freeze 'em

Apparently there is some dispute these days about the source behind and the composition of the entity known as the “Axis of Evil”. The phrase lives on in infamy for those of us who are still just as bowled over every time we hear it as when it first rolled flamboyantly out of Bush’s mouth in the State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002. And clearly, the intention and the force behind its fabrication, has not faded in the least. News is the Bush-Cheney team is still pandering war propaganda to the American people and to the world—this time in preparation for an all out forced regime change in Iran (one of the “big three” which includes Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, if you didn't know).

But because of a better informed and more skeptical American public, there is realization by the war-marketers that something stronger than the Bush-Cheney claims of Iran’s “open desire” for nuclear weapons might be required to press public opinion in favor of such a move against Iran. So now Cheney is calling for smaller-scale strikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Some believe this might edge Iran into a show of their “evil” intent and so give just cause for the U.S. to make a bigger and more hostile move. But if not, anything that looks suspicious after such strikes could be taken as a retaliatory move on Iran’s part-a move that could be used just as easily for justification.

Knowing that the U.S. has found a loop-hole in the nuclear proliferation treaty so that they are now building an arsenal of lesser nuclear missiles, is anyone out there but me fearful of that nuclear holocaust we were all so worried about back in the 50’s? Remember “On the Beach”, the end of the world scenario following nuclear war and radiation fall-out creeping ‘round the world to eventually kill all remaining survivors? Seen any pictures lately of the devastation following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945? Or of the maimed and dying from radiation disease or genetic mutation in later generations?

I worry that those younger than us baby-boomers who've never known and haven’t been told about our early childhood experiences of having to dive under our desks at school in 1st grade for bomb drills (duck and cover, it's been called)--and see movies growing up like “Dr. Strangelove, or how I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb”--don’t have a realistic fear about nuclear warfare. Do the younger generations just think of these accounts as tales reflecting overly exaggerated fears of their elders, or worse, drug induced stories from flakey hippy-dippies? I’m scared, folks! There are 40-something neo-cons out there that don’t have a clue—and they are directing traffic these days!

We knew at some level as first graders that getting under our desks and putting our hands over our heads was not going to save us in a direct hit. Wasn't that what gave us our initial experience, our first reason to doubt and mistrust authorities—especially those who were trying to manipulate us into believing their lies or pacify us into doubting our own feelings? Is there any wonder that many of us more “progressive” thinking baby-boomers doubt and mistrust the claims of the Bush-Cheney team (who, together with Rumsfield, have been called by some, the “Axis of Medievals” to describe their dark age dogmatism and inquisition-like torture tactics). Yes, readers, some have even claimed that the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel have been the true powers in the “Axis of Evil”.

If this is so, then who would we ferret out as the Source of that evil axis?

I propose it is the Weevil in the Axis of Evil—and I have the culprit’s picture posted on this page! Now, upon checking out household remedies for rooting out evil, er, I mean weevils, the weapon of choice is not the microwave, but the freezer. Yes, I must tell you, readers, even nuking those evil weevils doesn’t work. House spouses report finding these slightly discolored bush bugs still walking around in the microwave after nuking infested flour.

So, the gist of all this, my friends, is to propose my way of ridding our country of evil—

I say put ‘em in the slammer, yep—pack ‘em in the freezer—then maybe we can all sup in peace!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Comments about Care and Repair

I have pasted to this blog a post I made at another site ("Care and Repair--the Collapse of our Infrastructure") because it drew comments that are more appropriate for the focus of this blog--the focus of "finding your own voice" for speaking (and writing) responsibly and intelligently (with "emotional intelligence") about our deepest values and our most passionate hopes and dreams for the future of our country and for the future of the world.

Below I am pasting the comments to that article so that they can be viewed here and the comments and conversation can continue for any who would like to contribute (Sorry, the comments didn't paste over with original paragraph breaks! Hope you can read them!)

P.L. Frederick said...
Yes, the U.S. government currently spends billions and billions of dollars per year on overt warring; preferring to ram Christianity down the throats of its Muslim brothers and sisters. Maintaining U.S. roads and infrastructure, providing sufficient rescue during and after the Katrina tragedy, and listening to advisors, intelligence, and citizens isn't a priority for this administration. How ironic that Christianity, the supposed platform of the Bush Jr. administration, is about peace and love.Your Nero reference is interesting to ponder. P.L. FrederickSMALL & big
August 3, 2007 9:31 AM

P.L. Frederick said...
Also, about roads and infrastructure: Ancient buildings of stone can and do survive for thousands of years—while our own public structures of asphalt, wood, and steel, without proper care, might last a generation. Our buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, not time. We build 'em fast and furious and plan to put our money into maintaining and fixing them up. Trouble is, we often don't.P.L. FrederickSMALL & big
August 3, 2007 9:33 AM

In her own Voice said...
PL,[How ironic that Christianity, the supposed platform of the Bush Jr. administration, is about peace and love.]Isn't it, though!Nero--that image really impressed me as a youngster studying World History.
August 3, 2007 11:27 AM

In her own Voice said...
PL[while our own public structures of asphalt, wood, and steel, without proper care, might last a generation.]So much for the native American concept of choosing solutions that are for the good of all to come for the next seven generations, huh?
August 3, 2007 11:30 AM

yours truly said...
I am fully with you on this one sistah! How sad something this horrific has to happen before prevention processes are put into place and people take note... The Katrina tragedy has never been fixed, just glossed over and forgotten. And what of true importance has been dealt with to our satisfaction in this administration? I can see nothing. The attorney general situation, case in point! Signing statements to condone torture and negate accountability...It's painful to watch. People feel hopeless, become despondent and stop trying to seek justice for acts committed by an administration who's members are seemingly above the law. Oops...I think I've digressed sufficiently from the original point here!
August 3, 2007 10:48 PM

In her own Voice said...
Digress? Easy to do, yt, the list of unconscionable acts just goes on and on, ad nauseum. Well "ad nauseum" doesn't come close to describing the assault on my sense of values during this whole bloody reign! Yes, reign--one of my responders by email said this leadership "team" acts with the sense of entitlement that comes from believing they are "the royal family/nobility who only pretend to have our best interests at heart".
August 4, 2007 1:18 AM

Confessions from the sandwich generation said...
First, I love your commentary. I can't figure out why we're still in this stupid war when everyone I meet thinks it's insanity. The infrastructure that's crumbling isn't just our roads and bridges and buildings--in my opinion, it's also the infrastructure of our government model. Too many abuses of the system and too many failures. Also, got your message and I apologize for not getting back to you. Busy with funerals and sickness. I'm back with a new posting.
August 6, 2007 1:33 AM

In her own Voice said...
sandwich,agreed on the government system's infrastructure being seriously out of whack and facing failure--I'd go so far as to say the global economy is in much the same condition--more on that later!I guessed something might have been going on with you when I didn't hear back from you. Sorry to hear you had personal losses!
August 6, 2007 12:51 PM

Kent said...
What I'm getting from all of you is that we should focus on fixing our bridges, waste a couple billion more dollars in New Orleans, increase spending on entitlement programs across the board and just sit back and wait for the terrorists to attack us again.That's not very 'progressive.'It strikes me that George W. Bush is a progressive. Liberating Muslims from a brutal regime? That certainly isn't a conservative idea. And the inability to recognize the good, the ability to see and realize the positive, even though you might disagree, isn't progressive. Nor is it tolerant. Feminists around the world should admire and embrace President Bush for enabling millions of Muslim women to be free. Yet somehow with the perverted logic of the Left, Bush is a nazi and war criminal.It doesn't add up.Quite simply, there is so much to do that the government can't deal with all of it. And while we all agree on the importance of infrastructure, it is the responsibility of the governors of individual states to maintain their own infrastructure. In the case of Minnesota, they were in the process of repairing the I-35 bridge. And there are hundreds of thousands of bridges across America that are 40+ years old and older that are badly in need of repair.But I'd like to focus my remarks here on the comments made her by Yours Truly. Apparently YT is unaware that US Attorneys are political appointees, and as such, serve at the pleasure of the President.Back in 1993 Bill Clinton and his Attorney General Janet Reno fired all 93 US Attorneys and nobody batted an eyelash. Bush and Gonzales fired 8 US Attorneys and, in the eyes of a vocal minority, it's a scandal.With Katrina, Bush has taken a beating. FEMA was ill prepared, but (and this is a big but, largely overlooked) they had no lead time. FEMA was only called in by Lousiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat by the way, until after the storm had hit New Orleans. Blanco was also late in deploying Louisiana National Guard troops to prevent looting and violence. (Her anemic leadership has forced her not to seek re-election.)And what to make of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, another Democrat, who failed to deploy hundreds to school buses to evacuate thousands of people from the flooded areas before the storm?It's popular and easy to blame Bush. But it is largely inaccurate.Then YT wrote: 'And what of true importance has been dealt with to our satisfaction in this administration? I can see nothing.'Nothing of importance? How about national security? How about the strongest economy in American history? With all due respect, I'd say Yours Truly is woefully uninformed.What concerns me in the current political climate is the inability of some to apply common sense and logic to America's problems. Many people wear the 'progressive' mantle, but they advocate only the status quo. That's not very progressive.Audrey you are a wonderful writer. Thank you for the kind words about my writing and I'm glad your stopped by my blog. I hope you'll visit frequently.
August 7, 2007 4:28 PM

yours truly said...
Obviously, Kent and I are coming from opposite perspectives, however I can only respond to the “facts” I am presented with, just as every other American. My perception is based on a liberal viewpoint, however I was a young republican over 20-something years ago so have watched from both sides of the fence. As I see it, a knee jerk reaction took us into a war that has no true bearing on retaliation for 9/11. So why do we remain? If we as a nation have decided to become the moral police, then what of Darfur, where atrocities against humanity are committed daily? Is it not our moral responsibility then to strong arm China into stabilizing the Sudan and ending the massacre of innocents? Why haven’t we? And what of trade with China, why haven’t we insisted on fair access to their consumers as they have to ours, and if we are the moral police, why indeed do we ignore their own environmental and human rights abuses and trade with them at all? It is absolutely irresponsible and ludicrous to say we are strong economically when we are currently $97 billion in debt to China for this moral war, and when you consider our debtors own human rights deficits, the irony is staggering. In terms of the average American and his ability to eek out a decent standard of living (having been a corporate recruiter for 15 years I have first hand experience), the accessibility of healthcare and stability of pensions, salary and home price ratios are vastly disproportionate and effecting the middle class negatively on all fronts. National security? I personally can never condone torture, the lowest form of humanity, nor domestic surveillance. These constitute fear tactics only, nothing more. Have motivated terrorists ever been deterred by fear tactics? In regard to the AG, Gonzalez, who is plainly a lackey to the Bush administration, I am not so disturbed by the terminations as his blatant disregard for honesty in the face of a congressional committee. Doesn't this bother you? I am not blaming the administration for the collapsing infrastructure nor Katrina, although they are responsible for the homefront, some delays and mishaps are to be expected, but not to the degree that we appear more like a third world country than the greatest nation in the world, as we are so apt to proclaim. I am only seeking an administration that provides straight talk, that is not negotiating on behalf of corporate profits instead of the American people, and that is not subject to the whims of corporate lobbyists.So why haven’t I been satisfied with this administration from day one? A so called moral war while ignoring human rights abuses in China and Darfur, the ever-rising deficit, tax cuts to the extreme rich, lack of fiscal responsibility, total disregard for using diplomatic efforts for peace, an administration that is above the law, selling arms to the Saudi’s who in turn refuse to assist us in Iraq, disregard for environmental protection, no bid contracts, disregard for healthcare and pension security, and the ever-widening divisions among Americans … the list goes on. We are only defined by our actions. This is my perspective. I beg to be enlightened.
August 8, 2007 9:54 AM

In Search of Authenticity said...
Kent, if I understand you correctly you are suggesting that “fixing our bridges or spending tax dollars on rebuilding an American city (New Orleans), a significant part of which has been destroyed, would result in our country just sitting back and waiting for the terrorists to attack the U.S. again.If I imagine the United States that your vision describes, it seems to look a whole lot like a country destroyed by terrorists. It would include buildings and bridges turned to rubble. I see things like roads and the power grid in shambles with immense suffering, very much like what has happened in New Orleans, occurring across the nation. That does not describe an effective terrorist attack on a carefully chosen, high value political target, rather it is a vision of mass destruction across all of the United States. In fact, it is a vision very similar to what Iraq looks like today.If that is the vision you have for this country and that you are asking us to adopt as our own, it doesn’t seem particularly progressive or attractive to me. This nation enjoys incredible comfort and wealth because of the investment of previous generations of Americans in our country’s infrastructure. Their selfless sacrifice of the use of their tax dollars has made possible our current quality of life. Don’t you think we have an obligation to our children to at least maintain that infrastructure so they can have the same benefits in the future?Your choice is to spend our tax dollars on destroying and occupying Iraq. Occupying forces are always hated. What would your reaction be if the roles were reversed? Do you have enough ability at imagining how others feel to consider what you would do if a foreign country invaded ours? I expect I would join the U.S. citizen insurgency. What if your parents or children were innocently killed by this foreign occupying force? I’m afraid my hatred towards those who killed my loved ones could even become so pathological that I might want to slip into their country and seek revenge in a big way. No my friend, I cannot buy into your vision. To do so would be to grant victory to the terrorists. It would turn our country into a shell of itself in a way their attacks never could. Certainly we must be vigilant and oppose and protect against terrorism. But we will never win this so called war on terror with military force. It is an ideological struggle where we either figure out how to live together in peace as Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddists and secular humanists, etc. or we destroy the human race in constantly escalating acts of state-sponsored terrorism. I must reject your vision of our future.
August 8, 2007 1:30 PM

In her own Voice said...

First I want to thank you for devoting considerable time and attention to my concerns about the safety and well-being of the American people—concerns that were raised by the interstate bridge collapse in Minneapolis. I also want to thank you for your compliments on my writing skills.

Although I understand political debate and editorial comment is your passion and an area in which you are honing your skills, my intention for writing this piece was not, in any way geared to initiate a debate of an adversarial nature. It was, on the contrary, more a venue for me to express my feelings of shock and grief about such an unexpected and unprecedented occurrence as the collapse of an Interstate Mississippi River bridge—an integral part of a highway and bridge system whose safety and maintenance I and most people in this country have learned to trust in the same way we were given to trust authorities and governmental leadership as children to be wise and responsible--dependable. It seems more and more in these years since the turn of the century, we have been forced to witness and adapt to disastrous occurrences far outside the range of normal or, at least, usual experience. We could at the least hope that those preventable disasters would be held in check by the authorities to whom we have entrusted our confidence and collective funds.

I have visited national parks in other countries and naively or unwittingly stepped out onto shaky metal stairways down sheer sides of cliffs to catch the scenic view of a cascading waterfall, only to realize later I may have been dangerously at risk since these park systems may not be designed or responsibly maintained according to the same strict standards of our parks here in America. So imagine my horror at having to witness one incident after another that undercuts that confidence I have obediently (and apparently, mistakenly) given to the authorities, the leadership of our country to protect the security of our everyday lives! Just in the simple and clear cut areas of the safety and maintenance of the structures we depend upon each day to conduct our affairs—whether that be roads and bridges, or buildings and levees!

And of equal concern is the security of our economy as the dollar’s value continues to fall and we become perilously dependent on foreign loans to fund ever increasing expenditures towards the occupation of a country invaded to seize oil resources and increase the profits of big oil corporations for the few, while the many live in increased indebtedness without access to the same privileges provided to the “corporate citizens” of our country. This shift in our socio-economic structure from the stable and affluent, integrated system of the recent past to one that is more like what we’d expect from the governments of Central and South America where small percentages of wealthy privileged people who have powerful political connections dominate while mass numbers live in abject poverty is not my vision for America’s (or mine and my adult children’s) future. And this is certainly not a future I am willing to sacrifice their lives for in the military occupation of a country who resents and mistrusts our presence there (along with most of the rest of the world). It is not surprising that we have terrorist activity in the U.S.—it is surprising that we don’t have more!

I appreciate you stopping by. You’ve certainly stirred a debate here among others commenting in this section—and I appreciate all of you who have made a fearless search and statement of your own values here. That is what I’d like to see us do in the blog I’ve created called “Finding your own Voice” which is at: Maybe we could carry on this conversation (and more) at that blog!

Care and Repair--the Collapse of our Infrastructure

August 2, 2007
What a shock this morning to open up the New York Times and see an interstate span over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis had collapsed. And then to proceed to CNN’s Breaking News to see and hear the live reports. I begin to see all over again the World Trade Towers coming down, though obviously, this bridge span collapse has less impact on us as a nation and less loss of life associated.

After somewhat assimilating the human drama being enacted before my eyes this morning and observing my mind and body jump to scenes of unlikely to unreal occurrences in recent movies such as Live Free and Die Hard and X-Men, The Last Stand where landmark bridges such as the Golden Gate and major interstate freeway exchange spans were collapsing while amazing feats of survival were being accomplished, I returned to intuitive hits I’ve had in the recent past. These flashes of insight I've had more and more often have involved a realization that our “great society” goal of the sixties--that of building roads, bridges, and rockets into “new frontiers” for mankind may have been somewhat lofty.

And that the roads, bridges, rockets (and planes) that were built during the sixties—that time of great expansion (and perhaps overly grandiose confidence in our ability to master human physical limitations), were now suffering the stress and fatigue of forty years of use. I recognized that I and many others of my generation (baby-boomers) have labored under an illusion that these miracles of modern engineering and technology were here to stay, impenetrable—everlasting. Surely these were monumental enterprises which would be standing long after mine and my progeny’s need for them. Certainly they were better designed for long term use than historical buildings such as the famed cathedrals of Europe, et al, which must have been built with inferior and antiquated engineering and architectural design. Right?

At one point, as discussions of our nation’s deficient and deteriorating electrical grid brought to light the precariousness of our current system’s dependability, and I recognized the fragility of our economic structure just in terms of a major loss of computerized data (Y2K), I begin to digest the realization that our blatant inattention to the requirements of sustaining what was built in those early years of our “going where no [one] has gone before", had placed us on the brink of disaster. The seemingly unrelated horror of 9-11 sealed that awful knowledge in a heart-binding kind of cognitive restructuring, but the true heart-break was in the events following.

I’m talking about the immediate use of our shock and overwhelm to insert an egregious program that placed us on a steady course to war in Iraq. It has been downhill from there, people! We find our infrastructure collapsing all around us—roads, bridges, buildings, levees—and our leadership concentrating on its own agenda of avarice and greed for power. Empire building? Well, Nero fiddled while Rome and its empire burned, so they say. I must say, my fellow Americans—my fellow members of the human race, I am, at this point, unfalteringly focused in concern for our well-being!

It is certainly time that we as individuals take on the personal responsibility of stepping up to the plate and seeing that the true needs of our society are acknowledged and given the care and attention they need. It is time that we each begin to be true adults and not latch-key children dependent on slightly older adolescent siblings for our care and feeding. Yes, sorry to say, it appears our leader-caretakers are no more capable or responsible than slightly older siblings left in charge—older adolescents with obvious issues of entitlement, whose attention to their own grandiose agendas far outweighs that they give to our needs for sustenance. It is time that we grow up and face the deterioration and damage to our society’s infrastructure and use our own ingenuity for resolving these most pressing needs for care and repair.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Emotional Intelligence and Politics

Last night I attended what was, essentially, the first meeting of a group of people in the greater Houston area who are progressive in their thinking and feeling a lot of passion about how our country is (or is not) operating at this time. The group was first called together in response to a gathering of people for viewing the Live Earth concert and listening to current democratic candidates respond to questions about how they would manage the problem of pollution and the resultant crisis of global warming.

Some of us at that “party” agreed we’d like to get together again just to have the comfort and support of like-minded people—to have the opportunity to converse about our views and share our feelings about living and working in a community where conservative thought dominates. Many of us confessed we have felt like it was necessary to hide our progressive thinking and suppress our true feelings in fear of social ostracization or worse! Being black-balled, losing our reputations, business connections—our jobs. Isn’t that what our Constitution’s supposed to protect us from? Geez!

Our host for the meeting suggested we read George Lakoff’s book, "Thinking Points" in preparation for the meeting. Lakoff is part of a progressive think tank called the
Rockridge Institute. Rockridge (and Lakoff) have analyzed the success of the conservative or neo-con constituency to engage with the populace and influence the majority to their way of defining or “framing” reality (or truth) and have found that this feat has been accomplished through the conservatives’ ability to stir people at a subconscious and emotional level and activate “deep frames” of reference (or, from a Jungian perspective, major archetypes) that are so significant to the security of the target audience’s basic identity, that many would find it hard to resist.

He makes the point that many progressive thinking people (like our group) have been left stuttering and sputtering in response to hearing judgments and decisions being made based on a frame of reasoning that is so removed from our own system of values and beliefs as to offend or to outright defy our commonly held sense of decency. “Moral indignation” is the name given this feeling reaction in the field of social psychology. It often catches a person so off-guard that s/he is speechless in the face of it and finds herself with no ability to gather her wits and make a sensible response. Sound familiar?

Because we haven’t examined and learned to verbalize our own cognitive frames and the deep emotionally charged beliefs and experiences supporting them, we are at a loss for words when it comes to defending our most heart-felt truths. In order to better express ourselves, our own feelings and beliefs, it is necessary first to examine them at depth and get clear on just what they are—then it is important to learn how best to express them in a way we can be “heard” by others who may be coming from a different point of view--a different "deep frame" of reference. This way of processing emotionally informed material and learning to express it in a constructive manner is a significant component of emotional intelligence. I'm going to call this process of political personal growth work—“finding your own voice”!

More on that later!

Other books by Lakoff are "Moral Politics", "Metaphor, Morality, and Politics", "Don't Think Like an Elephant", and more.