An abundance of Warning and Caution:
Updated June 15 2010 What about the BP oil spill?
Days after it was suggested here BP came up with 20 billion. Humm,,But what next?
A blog on this in three days.
Updated: June 20, 2010 What to do now after the spill?
Updated: 7/13/10 I Didn't Think Things Could Get Worse, But I Was Wrong.
Updated: 7/15/10 Right Now Today Solutions
Updated : 7/16/10 Who Has Destroyed American Prosperity? Special Insert
Updated: 8/12/10 So Where Are We Now?
Updated: 10-21-10 Take Your Money Out and Bring it Home.
Updated: 10-22-10 The German Example
Updated: Nothing Change
What Does America Need To Do To Survive?
The first area to look into is those pillars of American success I identified above: Cheap Labor, Cheap Energy, Cheap Food and a country filled with natural resources.
Special Insert: Who is killing these pillars and why?
The greatest negative influence on these three pillars of American prosperty in the last five years has been wallstreet and the major banks.
1-Cheap Food: The last nail in the Cheap food pillar was in 2008 when Goldman and other investment bankers entered the wheat market and bought long thereby inflating wheat prices from an historic 3 dollar level up to 15 dollars. This resulted in food riots around the world, since the United States supplies the bulk of the worlds wheat. They are still there making billions off these articifical food shortages bringing food insecurity to millions, not only around the world but in the United States as well.
2-Cheap Energy: The same scenario is true for energy, especially oil. Wallstreet and the bankers drove the price of oil fron 25 dollars a barrel to 125 dollars a barrel and the cost at the pump from 1.25 a gallon to nearly3-4 dollars currently. Our cheap energy price went up and has stayed up. Now these same two robber barons are poised to make money on the cap and trade market. Who is going to profit from cap and trade as a solution to the energy and pollution problems--the large banks and wall street.
3- Cheap Labor: Labor used to be cheap because the cost of living in the United States was low. A single wage-earner could support the family.1968 was the last year in which real wages increased. Since then it has gone down meaning now the wife is working and the kids can't find a job at all, and on top of that, the kid is competing for a job with grandmother who is sometimes, supporting the kids and the grandchildren.
The college educated child can find no job. Fifty percent of all college graduates come home after graduation, not finding a job.This kind of under-employment and unemployment is the bank and wallstreet way of keeping labor costs low. People will work for pennies to support their families.
Given this recent history we need to look at what are the other influences and the history of these pillars and then on to specfics on what needs to be done to solve these problems.
To the list I will now add, a decent birth rate or immigrant flow, small town and technical green enclave investment, income distribution reform, land distribution reforms, banking and financial reforms and a re-thinking of the purposes of an economy.
Cheap labor built this country, from the Chinese coming to lay the track for the railroads, to the Africans working the cotton in the South, to the immigrants from Europe who cleared the land in the west, who worked the factories, fought the wars and made America what it is today. Needless to say the labor scene is not the same today. Cheap labor has been outsourced to other countries.
The American middle class has not only been abandoned but 40% of American savings were taken from them and their homes, their major asset, are now selling for half the purchase price to those very same interests which took the savings and the land.
We are heading for a two class system, therefore, the rich and the poor. Certainly that is the pattern becoming evident in many of our cities.
In addition, there is the lack of labor, cheap or otherwise, which is the demographic issue. Americans are not having children, nor are Europeans and the demographics are becoming clear: by 2060, some demographic studies show, the reproducing populations of Russia, Britain, France and Italy will, in essence, cease to exist and the traditional populations will be replaced by immigrants from other countries. The same trends are evident in the United States as well. Latin American birth rates outstrip those of Americans and demography becomes destiny, in a flice.
So, as we age in this country, we see a younger population replacing an older one, of a very different stripe. Our children will learn more Spanish in the short-run but English will have resurgence in the next generation. What is to be done in this context is now our challenge.
The first issue in the short run is the economy. The country will, and already has, in certain communities become a two-economy society. Why should I, nor can I, compete for basic living necessities with individuals earning 2-3 times more than I do?
A two-economy solution, whether created or defacto-realized seems inevitable. The rich will likely not be allowed to shop in the second economy where the price of necessities can be artificially raised in a so-called "free market." This solution creates a low-cost economy of necessities for those who provide the labor. This makes sense and many do this to survive anyway today. Thrift shops, discount stores, Walmarts all attest to the fact that the middle class cannot afford middle class and upper middle class prices. Devastatingly, 40 million Americans are now on food stamps and millions more on Medicaid. This is horrible.
The second pillar of revamping the labor force (the one above creates an economy which works for them) is to have that labor force become more self-sufficient and not be susceptible to being wiped out by Wall Street machinations and global trends in far away countries. This means the re-claiming of productive land and small towns where they can be supportive of a laboring population. Bartering, co-ops, low living costs, plus a land reform policy can make the country-side more productive and sustainable especially in the context of greening these small towns to produce energy for re-sale to the grid.
Believe it or not Detroit is trying this approach. Tear the detoriated buildings down, down-size the city, allow for population loss, put in self-sufficient gardening and farming plots, bring in technological enclaves. This is an admission that the city model does not work, at least in Detroit.
Now you have idle workers in small towns all over the country. We can make those small towns productive with massive investments. How you say is that possible? More tomorrow.
February 18, 2010 - Survival Chapter Three
As I have stated elsewhere our children, will not be able to afford the suburban home of the past.
In the cities they will be forced and are, already, living three to five a house or apartment. High unemployment will remain with us and a revamping of the economy from a service emphasis to a new high-tech, green emphasis will take time. What to do. Here are a few modest proposals about what to do with the labor force, idle out there and hurting.
1-Create a massive internal peace corp. Put people to work re-vamping small towns for their change-over to a more self-sustaining model. This includes local organic food stuffs, grown and consumed. Free up land for this purpose. People will grow gardens. Put money into green training and irrigation projects. Bring people languishing unproductively in the cities back into these very same small towns. Bring back and support local and regional banks and co-ops of various kinds, crops, loans, machinery, techno co-ops can work if local.
Remember what happens when we allow Wall Street to become our bankers?. Take those same highly educated city grads, currently living five to an apartment, and give them money to go back home to their own small towns, or others to help set up the infrastructure needed to fuel this internal peace corp re-generation of America. Move people out of the cities with incentives to go back to the small town or the medium sized town. We have technology now where we don't need to congregate in cities to be productive, that was an industrial model where you needed the labor force close and available near ports and transportation hubs. We don't need this so much in this post industrial era. Has this model been tried? Sure. Dependent wage-earners in the city are an economic failure. We should admit it and go local and regional.
The poor won't be poor if they are given the means to access the basics of life. The middle class can revert to the community help model that is still in place in many small towns, and has been for centuries. After all, most of the world was a small town model until populations were forced into the cities to serve the needs of robber barons.
Now the second aspect of reform is to take the technological enclaves I have described and integrate them into what I have described above. I have noted that much of the information revolution is actually driven by a few high skilled enclaves around the world and by relatively few people. They are Silicon valley-like enclaves in California, China, Singapore, France, Germany, Hong-Kong etc. These enclaves are small towns where participants know one another and exchange ideas. This is the second model of small town regeneration. These type two small towns are to be in contact with type one small towns and can become training cadres for small town re-generation. How? Give them tax breaks to do so and guess what they will have at their disposal; cheap labor from the sources we identified above. That is what we need to do in the short run, town by town.
So we have a new source of cheap labor, idle now but which can become productive again. Empty the cities, get people out of what are inefficient enclaves and get them to places where the population can begin to benefit itself not a few hundred thousand rich souls who control city life.
Ah, not possible you say? The choice here is stark: Either we organize this new re-generation by planful means or it will occur in an unplanned way, which is to say people abandoning the cities and invading the country side looking for the means to survive. Be mindful here that any disaster of any meaningful proportions will initiate this process anyway and we will not have planned for it
A last stark fact: The average grocer has three days worth of food on the shelves. People will invade the country side looking for food and this will be the plan I just discussed being initiated the hard way. And that is ugly.
The collapse of centralized authority, unplanned, happened with the collapse of the Roman Empire, initiating the Dark Ages, and happened, in fact, in the bible as I have argued above, and happened with the collapse of Egyptian rule in Canaan. It happened with Katrina. Any breakdown from natural or man-made sources will create the pattern I describe above.
February 22, 2010 "What Does America Need To Survive?" Chapter 4
Have there been other examples of civilizations abandoning the city as unworkable; or central authority collasping, of abandoning empire as unworkable? The Mayans abandoned pyramid building, the Greeks, the Babylonians, the French, the British, the Romans, countless examples. Most large scale centralized authority systems fall down. They are not generally pulled down. The most recent example is that of the Russians who abandoned their empire as unworkable.
It is part of a normal pattern.
So now to get to the detail. Include the army in the small town regeneration project, along with the young and the college-educated. Many of them have ties to these small towns and it would be a home coming. Have the technological enclaves close by with small towns providing labor in exchange for training. Isn't that what the Army does anyway? Focus efforts in regeneration on greening and self-sufficiency. These would be key. This would mean small truck farms, wind, solar and the techno-enclave would be in proximity. And, ultimately, able to produce energy for the gird.
Of course, there will be a fight over the land. Currently developers, banks, railroads, utilities and the US government own most of the land in the country. There would have to be a new land use policy. Survival is at stake. But the fight could be won because small states dominate in the US Senate and a deal could be struck because their states would benefit from such a plan.
Think of it. Most of the wasted resources in this country are utilized keeping the cities afloat. They are not economic, crime ridden, have no real products they produce, have teeming unemployment looming and bound to get worse and net resource wasters. They demand massive investments in transportation, food, energy and give little back in terms of long-term sustainability. Young people, the idle, the technologically advanced are better utilized on the country-side landscape. Just a thought.
So cheap labor is possible to put back into the American equation. As I am fond of saying, this will happen well and planned or ill-planned and ugly.
February 26, 2010 "Survive"
The next item in tandem is cheap energy. Above we have mentioned wind and solar. We add to the list battery power, and plasma power. There are ideas around the idea of clean coal and cheap oil, but we are better off looking at fuel substitutes that include vegetable oils and other grain based fuels. At the very least stockpiles ought to be created for the emergencies which will surely come in the future. But will all this be enough, timely and efficient in the face of climate change, aging populations, declining incomes, looming depression, and political paralysis?
Such timing is critical, the answer is unknown. However, we have no choice in the energy field; we must act as if we will succeed. The overall goal is clear; create a society which city and country-side produce net energy give-backs to the grid.
Friends of mine stated part of the problem succinctly, “Why re-build an outmoded infrastructure; build the new one directly."
On the energy level the task is a delicate one: We have to build the boat we are sailing to Europe on while sailing to Europe. The reason that this is even to be looked at is that you can do this if you build the boat as a series of rafts strung together. Those rafts are small towns. Seen this way, it is possible to accomplish the task. Of course there is not enough money in the world to re-build the old infrastructure, but a green infra-structure is possible under scenarios I outline below. That structure is cheaper in the long run, more competitive, locally controlled and has cheaper labor costs, as I have outlined above.
The next issue is cheap food.America has long been the bread basket of the world but that small-farmer model of production has long been replaced by big agriculture which now means genetic farming where corn itself has reduced strains available and most of them owned, repeat, owned by the Monsanto's of the world. It is illegal to grow the corn without their permission. And to boot Monsanto has created grain strains which can only be planted once and is bad for people as well. Rat experiments show genetically altered food cause serious problems in humans. This is being ignored.
This, of course, changes the cheap food equation. If grain seed and indeed water, and the very air can become private property then the house of cards will collapse. Clearly this system is not sustainable and is not viable as a public good.
Re-generation will have to be accompanied by a re-thinking of who owns food grains. Who owns water, land, air? It is instructive to even have to discuss these issues this way. What hath progress wrought?
How can food be re-democratized? It will have to be. Hungry people will find a way to feed their families and Monsanto and their patents will have to stand aside and let people grow what ever they want.
Now a potential catalyst in all of this are returning veterans from our two wars. (War is a form of employment which is why it so easily becomes popular.)
These folks, having made sacrifices for the country will come home, assuming the wars end, will need jobs and there are none. They will need medical care, in a medical system which is broken. They will need re-training, in a country which is cutting college budgets. Something similar happened after World War One and those vets marched on Washington. It can happen again. These might as well when they and their families find they cannot make a living once back home. They are good candidates for re-generation projects where living costs will be lower and green re-training possible.
But the potential volatility of that issue remains. The two-economy solution will become more apparent with these veterans back home. After all, we have an example of this with the military itself where the internal military economy runs on it own terms not those of the general American economy.
So what then is the next issue to be solved? We need to look at small town economic models and their regional counterparts. Tomorrow.
February 27, 2010 "Survive"
The economic picture is glum, but things will sort themselves out well or badly. Let's concentrate on well. The first item many of you have mentioned is the issue of where will the money come from to institute many of the ideas I have outlined above. Bob mentioned the national debt, two wars, and a trillion dollar deficit. All true . The national debt is 12.4 trillion dollars and soon the interest payments against that debt will be the second largest item in the national budget.
What will happen? What can happen? Can we or our children pay this debt? No, not right now.
What will likely happen is either default or re-structuring. We owe the money to the Chinese and the Japanese and the banks mostly and we will likely simply restructure with all and create new lower payments. The Japanese and the Chinese will likely will agree, to the extent they can see their exports increase to us in our re-generation efforts here. They could get some debt funds paid back in that way, along with currency re-valuation in the Chinese example. And guess who will be in China, utilizing that cheap labor-US companies who can produce for the US market utilizing this foreign labor and also help create that green market back home as well. This has synergy. Sloppy synergy but yes synergy. Inevitable? No. But a logical path.
The two wars have cost about 1.2 trillion and have to be wound down slowly so as to not exacerbate all those towns dependent upon military contracts in the United States and all those countries dependent upon US military bases abroad. (There are 745 such bases scattered around the world.) We are a war-dependent economy seeking to become a peace economy that will take time, say 20 years.
So the first step in economic re-generation will be the global changes described above from the perspective of the United States. We can't pay the debt and, in some cases, (bank debt) should not be paid. Besides we need the money for the internal changes above or we pay in internal disruptions from economic chaos if we don't act. Think 20 rolling Katrina's due to water shortages in one case, food shortages in another case, rising inflation which make the dollar worth a lot less, transportation breakdowns, terrorist attacks etc.
We are a fragile over-technologized society, and so interdependent that five airplanes can bring our economy to its knees. This is not good.
Now the small town answer here is, therefore, a good idea not only for economic reasons but for strict military reasons as well. Ninety-five percent of the people living on one percent of the land is a bad idea militarily. Disbursement is a better idea.
Now the mix we are talking about here is one of small-town, regional and yes some cities where cities make sense. But the basis of the American future has to be local, upgraded with technology, not massed populations in vulnerable cities. Re-generation is re-building America from the bottom up and abandoning top-down systems.
So how much time will this all take and what are the barriers?
March 1, 2010 "Survival"
A wise sage once said "What to do is easy, but the first step of what to do is the problem." The same is true here. The answer to the question of how long we have to accomplish certain critical first steps is a function of how long will the first steps take. And what are those first steps? Here we go:
The country has to be put on a disaster footing, whether that disaster is any of the calamities I have described above or some one not yet conceived. Here is what I think we have to do, over what time line, with what human power sources and at what cost:
1-Just as we have voting booths and places in every community in the United States we must do the same for the regeneration effort. We will need in an emergency, power, medical, housing food, water, and energy and ways to move people efficiently. We partially have this in place with F.E.M.A but I would not bet my life on their help, would you?
The first scenario is the three to--five day survival period. In a disaster we want people to be self-sufficient and be able to survive for at least three-to five days after an event or in general:
--That is every home must have five days of food, non-perishable (remember, we assume no power will be available)
--Each home must have or access to five days of clean water
--Each home must have access to an emergency medical kit
--Each home must have a shortwave radio kit or access to same
--Each home must have a fuel generation kit, assuming gasoline supplies will quickly become depleted
--Each home must have access to the ability to produce heat or fire
--Each home must have a tent for temporary shelter if necessary.
--Each home must have seed grains for a vegetable garden (yes, let's think ahead)
--Each home must have a 12 volt battery, an auto battery will do and, add two bicycles, and a crowbar and rope.
--Each block must have a disaster warden, someone who would get training in the above items and their use; a paid position.
Right now some homes have these items, most don't. Some communities have their processes in place, some don't.
Shopping list item one for the state and federal government: have our re-generation work force, (remember these folks?) create "Survival Support Kits" on every block in America. Kit production will provide jobs; make survivability a real option for Americans not only for natural disasters but other kinds of slow degeneration from economic collapse as well.
These kits will be on every block, or within walking distance and supplement those home supplies I have described above. Why all this effort? The worse thing you can have is millions of people in the cities on the move after five days looking for food or trying to escape the chaos of the cities.
There are massive issues with this kind of movement. You want folks to hunker down in place and survive for at least five days to ten days until state or federal efforts can be mounted.
Hunkering down also makes security for these communities easier, rather than dealing with a scattered population on the move.
The details of how you get fuel without gasoline I will spare you but survivalists know them well.
How much will this effort cost? Unknown, but my guess is each kit and its mobile container will cost in materials about 750 dollars. Labor costs would be about 500 per kit, transportation, training and placement and after support: about 2,500 dollars per kit for the first year. Let's add contingency costs and the kit total is 5,000 per unit. How many units? Let's say a million units installed in each of five years: 25 billion total.
Of course there are other costs as well. All we have here is survival days one through five. But what about after the five to ten day period I have postulated. But note this is not just a five-day survival plan it is the first step toward local self-sufficiency. More on that tomorrow.
March 2, 2010 "Survival"
All of the above effort gets us five to ten days of sufficing, mostly in the city. Beyond the ten-day mark there is a lot more to do. Moreover, what I have described above is mostly related to the cities. The country-side effort is presumed to be in place from the other efforts described above and will have similar outlines as the city effort except that the Army, state and federal forces will lead that effort.
After ten days cities will be out of food and masses of individuals will head toward the country-side to escape what will be an increasingly chaotic and dangerous city environment; people use guns to get what they need, looting, dogs running in packs, sanitation issues erupt right away. Terrible..
These patterns of behavior are not uncommon; we see them in every prolonged disaster or emergency.
Most of these ideas work in fire, earthquake, terrorist action, drought, power failure, water issues etc. They are not great for nuclear war. There all bets are off.
Now in the country-side you have to have in place before the above disasters or slowly degenerating circumstances (the latter is more likely) reception centers to receive the city dwellers. Housing, kits, medical attention, sustainability planning all will have to be done before hand. The kits I speak of have to be along major exit routes and highways out of the urban areas and final destination points have to be marked out before hand to handle millions of people.
Food stuffs, water purification, temporary governmental functioning, security issues, communication, transportation and mobility-- all issues that this country has not acted upon and may have to. A slow moving degeneration of our financial systems in the easiest to deal with. But think back to October 1929. The collapse of the stock market put millions on the road looking for food and work. Then most people had country cousins who grew food. Today this is not the case today. This can happen again and we have done nothing to anticipate or prepare.
What will a truly national or even regional effort look like? We build that infrastructure block by block, city by city, region by region focusing our effort based on what areas, cities or regions have the best sustainability components and spend money in those areas which do not. The have's are put to work creating sustainability for the have-nots.
But details and costs loom here. How can this be done in the next twenty years-an arbitrary time period, but one I think is the last window we have to have gotten much of this in place.
We create hubs, local and regional until a national network is in place. The jobs it will create will help. The products, all aligned with sustainability and green goals give the country a future in the global economy, and we come out if it stronger militarily and mentally.
But as always the question is what comes first, who does it, how much will it cost and how effective will this effort be?
March 3, 2010 "Survival"
The mounting of a national effort encompassing a local, regional and country-wide effort will take twenty years. It will involve a simultaneous re-vamping of the American economy and political structure such that local self-sufficiency to the maximum degree possible is built into the new system. Our issues with infra-structure, energy, power, food etc are all based upon the assumption that the present system will be in place when clearly the present system needs to be totally re-conceptualized.
The maxim is that with every complex system at some point there simply isn't enough brain power at the top to manage systems when they reach a certain size, no matter how much technology we throw at it.
The dream that we could automate our way to a well run system is a dream. It happens over and over again with empires, cities and even small regions. People run systems best who are close to the production of its basic outlines.
What if I were President? What would I do? Well the American people, and others in other countries, do not really believe that life can change from what it currently is. We are paralyzed into complacency, feel powerless to change anything and not sure if we really want to see much change. As one of my students said, "Will I still be able to still play piano?"
Now the first thing I would do is to shake up the situation with new Federal law that would place in each American home the basic needs I have outlined above for the first line of defense in the event of an emergency in American cities. Each home or block would receive one of the kits I describe at a cost of five hundred per kit.
This is the "wake-up call" approach.Things have to be shaken up. Kick the mule to get his attention. This is a signal that we as Americans are vulnerable to various emergencies and must make preparations. I would bill it as the first steps toward local control and de-centralization, away from centralized banks and financial systems to more local ones, to more local political and social control, to a more self-sufficient country; re-building America from the bottom up and creating new self-sufficiency green and smart jobs.
This is true re-organization and cheaper by far than the current centralized system which mostly benefit, life-time politicians, lobbyists and the rich.
That is America's future if America is going to survive and compete in the global economy of the future. If this is not done the current situation where the top five percent of the population has control over more wealth that the bottom ninety-five percent will create social unrest of enormous proportions and a re-alignment will occur through the messy method and social unrest, rather than through the ways I am proposing here. Let's hope we all come to our senses.
Update June 15, 2010
An interesting question here is how do the re-generation principles above match up with an actual emergency, such as the BP oil spill? The above was written before the spill but it provides an example of what is happening and how, if a re-generation plan had been in place, things would be different.
First we have a spill, the largest in American history which will contaminate over 1/3 of the Gulf of Mexico, is an environmental disaster, will affect the livelihood of thousands along the coast and inland as well, among some some the poorest states in the Union. Unemployment, damaged tourism, and decay will be with the regions for years.
And to boot we are treated to a scene where politicians parade across our tv screens promising relief but delivering none, in it mainly to get their faces on TV and hoping thereby to get re-elected, no FEMA springs into action, and payments have to come from BP and meantime how are people going to feed themselves, and make boat and house payments? A mess.
Now under re-generation, first of all, BP would be required to click a computer screen and transfer a few billion dollars directly to local banks who where the individuals involved could draw upon. This would take a few minutes. Right now they are sending checks after a claims process.
But we have no local banks. Besides the politicians want credit for relief because that means votes for them. Too quick relief and they become irrelevant.
Local banking structures who have the house note and the boat note could and would be in place under regeneration. There is no subsitute for a local person who knows each individual in the community and their needs. If BP didn't transfer the money then the Federal Reserve or the Federal government should or under re-generation would be required to.. It is a down payment on ultimate claims but people in an emergency need money now, not later. Have I mentioned local co-ops? They are even better than local banks but many don't have the electronic transfer techology to handle some tranactions and don't hold the mortgages and boat notes. Credit unions are also good choices, but same problem. We have to build these under re-generation.
Second, given what is a slow moving disaster a livelihood for millions has now been destroyed. Where will they find work? Many, as was the case with Katrina will abandon the old jobs and livelihood and we will see decay, boarded up business and migration. Under re-generation a self-sufficient plan would be in place to have those unemployed be employed locally in techno and small town enclaves and available for disaster relief. There would have been a plan B. There is no plan B now in place in the Gulf and there was no plan B; and there is no plan B even being planned for the Hurricane season upcoming.
Hurricane season. Boy is there a need for plan B. When the winds arrive what hopes for a return to normalcy might be dashed and millions will be in need or at least on the move.
Are we preparing? Nope. The states say we have no money. The Fed says BP is going to pay; BP is going to say hey, the people responsible for rig safety are registered in the Marshall Islands and can't be touched. A court battle will take years and people will be long discouraged or gone and nobody will in the end will take responsibility.
The moral of this tale is clear: Communities have to plan for self-sufficiency against man-made and natural disasters. Plan for food, energy, and the labor force to rebuild or sustain what is in place. The large enties, the government, BP etc can't and don't have an interest in helping. It is not profitable for the oil company to give away too much money, and is useful to the politicians only in as much as they can get votes out of it for the next election. After that they move on to the next photo op.
We have to think that the self-sufficient frontier societies of 150 years ago have to be wedded to the techo innovations of today to keep this country going and for it to thrive. Be sure to write your congress person.
June 20, 2010
Now that BP has come up with 20 billion the first interesting point is that it could not deliver the funds directly or quickly to the people who need it. No, they gave the money to the US government. Be prepared for a long wait while the state and local politicians hop a plane to washington to see if they can get their hands on that money and control of it's distribution so as to dole it out to friends, supporters who can help them get re-elected while the people in the gulf deplete their life savings, go into debt, search for other work, prepare for cleanup which might last years, contemplate that 1/3 of the gulf being poisioned, while the marshlands affected by the spill die and make the land areas more vunerable to hurricanes just months away.
Things ain't going so swell.
So what to do?
First get the money out of the US hands to local banks and /or co-ops formed by the communities themselves, composed of the members of that community. (A pipe dream I know) But some people have formed communities and they ought to be encouraged.
Secondly, a regional disaster recovery plan ought to be instituted following the steps I have outlined above. (Has anyone heard from FEMA lately?)
We ought to be hiring the unemployed and the skilled to go down to institute the plan on a regional basis. First we need to implement the short term emergency plan I outlined about while simultaneouly instituting the long term plans I identifed.Note here the the ability of residents in the area to earn a livelihood from the Gulf may be affected for many years. A new plan for the small towns in the area has to be created So what is to be the new self-sustaining model for the area? Obviously the last plan of depending upon the sea and tourism didn't work so well.
I like the idea of desalination of the sea, solar power and water power from the Gulf. Make the hurricanes pay for themselves by harnassing the wind to produce electricity. Just a thought. Here would be cheap energy, cheap labor and we could introduce elements of cheap food.
Will this happen? Only God knows, but I would not take odds on it.
July 13, 2010
We had a score card on what is needed to turn America around, avoid disaster, and save our widows and orphans. So how are things going?
1- The Gulf: Not so good. We have delay after delay and we have not only one disaster but many. The Hurricane season is now, to peak in September. Are we prepared? No.
Citizens still don't have the money they need to survive not to mention repairs to their lives and cities and even if that hurdle was surpassed there is the matter of fishing and livelihoods all gone for the time being. BP is borrowing money and trying to sell assets because of the spill and that means no new or on-going help from them.
The marshlands are gone. This is a slow moving disaster, but, a sure one.
Are housing, disease, schools, state finances, re-building efforts kicking in or likely. Nope.
Score card F
2- The new Financial Reform bill coming through the Senate is a bust. It does not change much and the current wall-street depression will happen again. Why because the European Union has trillions is debt due in 2012 and no way to pay it So do we. That means trouble for you and me because American banks and other central banks will pay themselves first, and bring us the bill. We, as taxpayers, are last in the que. So we are looking at no loans, likely inflation, and more austerity programs and lay- offs and unemployment. "You folks," the montra will go, "have to tighten your belts."
Who can afford a belt?
Score Card Financial: F
If you don't want to be cheered up any further, skip the next section because things get worse.
3-Unemployment: Millions are now on tender hooks waiting for Senators demanding payoffs for their states for supporting the unemployment extension, meantime the unemployed suffer, many times after having spent a life-time paying unemployment insurance. Some one please explain what happened to all the excess funds in the unemployment funds, both state and national? Spent. That's what.
Now the cruel aspect this unemployment season is that wall street, and the banks take our money (remember we deposited money in their banks everyday and they took that money and gambled it, lost part of it, took the profits after hedging our funds, made millions, and greed upon greed, took 40% of the values of our middle class homes and 40% of our 401k and now benefit from this employment cycle because cheap labor is back--five applicants for each job, depressed wages, and those with jobs work long hours knowing that there are five people who will take that no- raise, reduced benefit, position they currently have.
Lets be clear: Who does unemploment benefit and who has the money to buy up our de-valued assets at pennies on the dollar--the same folks who took those assets, and get this, used our own money against us, and if there are any losses in all of this, they can simply use government funds to get paid for those losses--if you are a bank--getting paid with money that was is our money again-essentially we are covering banking losses incurred using our money in the first place. The FDIC will collaspe. No one can cover the trillions in losses here.
I told you this would be depressing.
So despite all of this what can be done? Well there are some critical things, but now you should have a headache, I do, and need some sleep.
Tommorow. Hint: A solution is not to put another gang in charge to take their turn at feeding at our trouth-meaning Republicans.
July 15, 2010
Hello all. What is to be done? Well can't do it all today but here are some quick effective items. These are things which may seem unconnected but are not:
1- First the power of the banks and wall street derive directly from us citizens and the fact that each day we give them our money to play with and gamble with. The first step is don't do that.
a. Move your money from the big four banks to a local bank, co-op or credit union. That keeps it local and denies the beast the money-food it uses against you.
b. Everyday you give money to wall street through your 401k. Don't do that. Keep yourself liquid; keep the cash. There is not going to be any interest on your money for years anyway. Keep it at home. It denies the beast the money it uses against you.
c Create your own local bank (that is what a coop is.) Your money stays home and is safe. No Wells Fargo, No Bank America, No Citbank, No Chase. (Note all of our local banks are dying. Revive them and make them work for you. If you haven't guessed by now it is all about your money, put a lock on your wallet.
d. Make sure your retirement money if it still there is not being used against you. Insist the local union, or government change the Erisa laws so that you or your community keep the loans local and the money local. Better still insist that the people taking your money and investing it in wall street invest it locally to produce jobs and green technology. I hate to say it but unions are heavy investors in wall street. They should not be doing that. Tell to local union and city council they should be investing that money at home. There are no interest rates increases for the foreseeable future anyway. If they had done that at Katrina or in the BP Oil spill the problems would have a solution, a local solution, local funds, money invested at home to directly benefit the communities where those funds came from in the first place. And don't forget to help local poor communities. If you don't' the poor and formerly middle class will be on the streets knocking at your door looking to feed their families too.
These are actions you can do, you can control and would be effective.
Tommrow: What to do about all those politicians and parties which also want your cash?
Update: August 12, 2010
So are things better yet? Sadly no. But if only a few hundred thousand Americans followed the above advice change would occur. Wall Street and the Banks would feel that pinch, so tight is the system, that a few billion would likely threaten their bloated money needs. And, they would scramble in the next year or two to get money from the feds, like before, or up their fees. But, we would be gone local with our money. So a trap can be laid and set.
Now, to be clear, this is the single best thing to do to change things--re-direct your money locally.
Secondly, I am asked are Republicans better than Democrats since the former support local control. (Big laughter here) These Republicans are not talking about local control and self-sufficiency in my meaning. They are talking about their local control over you and your money. They are the same folks in bed with the Banks and Wallstreet. Are the Democracts better? Nope. We have to stop drinking the cool aid which makes us fail to see that they are all in it together, spending our money and squandering the future of our children. Go to the mirror and slap yourself three times and say "I must not think that the future lies with giving my money to any politican, Banker, or Wallstreet." (Yes Virginia Wallstreet counts on getting your unemployment check deposited regularly) So you are the golden goose.
Stop getting et.
So let us think on these things for the future.
Tommorow I''ll outline Plan C. Plans A and B have been outlined above but we need too, a Plan C.
Sept 27, 2010
Here at the brink of the next election, what to do you may ask. The answer is clear; talk to local townspeople about implementing the above. Start a local dollar pool and co-op (like an local investment club) and meet in homes to get it started. The election is important. I won't tell you who to vote for because all of that is less important than taking control of our own future.
So what you may ask is plan C?
The first step is to make an analysis of what resources are available in your community to do the things outlined above, available land for self-sufficiency uses, available local capital, technical investment capital, available labor pools, political strategies, union supports for withdrawing money form banks and wall street and insisting that it be invested locally.
Investigate the Community Reinvestment Act and apply for funds for your community--which is the purpose of that act in the first place and billions are available. (These funds come directly from the Federal Reserve.)
Identify the goal as "Local Investment With Local Funds" and call a meeting to discuss the problems and local steps for your community while also seeking outside funds to aid in the development of those local institutions which will be needed.
You want in the end local foodstuffs, locally grown, local financiing, and local labor and energy sources. You can do it in a city but it is difficult. (We all should look at how successful Detroit is in this.) But movement toward self-sufficiency is a good goal for every town, no matter to what degree that might be possible.
You probably have some ideas of your own, if you think about it.
Let;s talk again later this week.
October 21, 2010
What can be done is to tell city hall to take the money out of the major banks and invest it locally or demand that the major banks invest it locally and that all mortgages be retained locally, We are talking billions of dollars. The same should be said to the labor unions. What are they doing sending our money to wall street any way? That worked our real well didn't it? It's our money, we should take steps to control how it is spent.
Now the state. Letters and emails should go out to state governments to add stipulations to wall street investment contracts that state funds be invested in the state or at least that state generated dollars have a portion reinvested in the state. This already exists with banks in the Community Reinvestment Act and has been in place for years. Its precepts should be expanded and extended.
This is very doable. A companion piece ought to be to put a referendum in place which places these ideas before the state and have them embedded in law. If done I guarantee you that the banks will do modifications and promote jobs and this country will move toward a sustainable recovery. It is your money. Don't give it away every payroll deduction and check to those who can't be trusted to protect middle class interests.
This is possible.
October 22, 2010
Now I have several emails asking how this re-distribution of banking dollars will actually work. The answer, I think, lies in the German example. Germany will, this year, post a 3 percent growth in GNP (Gross National Product) and will likely loan 150 billion to bail out Greece. Gemany has bounced back from the recession and is doing well.
Why is this?
The main reasons are, in my view, lies with the German community banking system where communities directly invest in local banks and in many cases, own them. A second factor is that German workers, their middle class, sit on the boards of many corporations. A third factor is that the Germans did not decimate their manufacturing base the way other countries did. Finallly, Germans save and hoard cash. It is their cultural way.
Add these factors together and what we have seen is that despite the near collaspe of the German National Banking system and a German TARP of billions paid out by German taxpayers to save the National Banks, Germany has come through all of that just fine.
The reason is, I believe, are the factors identified above. We can do this in this country. Communitiy banking, local investment, aligned with some of the other suggestions I have made above will work, if persued vigorously, But that is a big if.