Politics and personal responsibility

I’ve long recognized the two-party, one-ideology basis of American politics, and I was calling Barack Obama a neoconservative long before it was popular to recognize him as the Teflon President 2.0. But even I can hardly believe this tidbit from a guy I thought was pretty damned smart: From the I-cannot-believe-this-is-happening camp, Obama is appointing a Monsanto man as food safety czar. Welcome to Farmageddon, land of the free.

The Service Trap

It is clear that some of us are committed to lives of service, and others are not. I’m sure social scientists have identified myriad patterns to justify our quirky lives, without actually explaining them, much less identifying mechanisms underlying them. And that’s just as well, given the magnitude of the task. I’d rather we spend our considerable cognitive surplus on other issues. Consider, for example, how much time we spend tweeting. And then trying to determine if twittering counts at literature. (If you think twit lit is, well, literature, I think you’re an idiot. But I digress.) Never mind who’s drinking which brand of beer in the White House. We’re so absorbed with television and the Internet and who’s screwing whom in the world of celebrities, we can’t bother to focus on the inordinate suffering we’re causing, to humans and other animals. Sixth great extinction, including our own species? Whatev. Solving those problems will simply have to wait until after I get a tattoo proclaiming my independence from mainstream culture.

Truth and lies

Clinton’s Secretary of Labor Robert Reich presents the economic news in particularly stark terms. In his recent piece in Salon, he asks the question, “When will the recovery begin?” His one-word answer is dead on: “Never.”

Earth Egg

Even many secular people believe Earth is an egg. Once needed, we will simply abandon this ship for another planet. How stupid is this view? Quantitative skills have never been revered in this country, so it’s no surprise most people think we can simply plan the journey and load up the rich folks (including all middle-class Americans, of course) on a few minutes’ notice. Let’s actually do the math.

When — not if — TSHTF

Through April of 2009, the year-over-year decline is holding steady at about 3 percent. While that may seem like good news for the industrial economy, the opposite is true: The longer we hold onto a slow decline, the steeper the subsequent, inevitable cliff, as has been demonstrated in dozens of fields and collections of fields (e.g., nations). The steeper the cliff, the greater the probability of sudden disruptions in the supply of fuel, food, and water in towns and cities. And, too, a 3 percent annual decline puts us at mid-1980s world oil supply by 2015. Looks like it’s Mourning in America all over again.

Twilight of the Machines

Shortly after Cain murdered Abel and then founded the first city, more cities began to dot the Mesopotamian landscape. The rewards of civilization allowed relatively few people to feed the majority, with the biggest rewards going to a select, powerful minority. From those days forward, cities have allowed, in Stanley Diamond’s words, “conquest abroad and repression at home.”

Investing in Durability

Durability has always been a wise investment. Now is the perfect time to make a personal investment in durability, for myriad reasons. For one thing, most sellers still think fiat currency is valuable.