Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How Much is Enough?

Here’s a couple of interesting items, which I shamelessly lifted from the Too Much Web site. Perhaps you’ll find them interesting, too.

Stat of the Week:

How could U.S. income inequality be undone? Larry Summers, Barack Obama's pick to lead the National Economic Council, has worked out the math. If every top 1 percent household — average income: $1.7 million — wrote a check for $800,000, and if all these checks were pooled together, then $10,000 could be sent to every U.S. household making under $120,000 — and Americans would be as economically equal, by income, as they were three decades ago.

Quote of the Week:

“America’s wealthy have benefitted more than anyone else from the stability and safety provided by government, as well as the infrastructure and educated workforce and countless other public goods that make commerce possible. It is entirely fair to ask more from these families than we do from families who are struggling.”Citizens for Tax Justice, Principles for Progressive Taxation During a Recession, December 2008

Ponder these while the U.S. economy continues its death spiral.

Harry Kwanukkahmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bailout Blues

Congress did right by denying $25 billion in bailout money to U.S. automakers unless they presented rescue plans detailing how the money would be spent. (Too bad lawmakers didn’t hold Wall Street to the same high standards before approving $700 billion to shore up financial institutions that were finally experiencing the consequences of their own unethical practices and rampant greed.)

Properly chastised for showing up on Capitol Hill (or Capital Hill—from the CEOs’ perspective, either term applies) in their corporate jets, the Big Three’s CEOs failed to make their case and went away empty-handed. A few days later, they were back, this time riding in on the latest in American automotive hybrid technology. Once again, they pitched their case, only this time the price for their bailout had risen from $25 billion to $34 billion. Once again, they were rebuffed. Now, it seems that the Big Three are about to get a bailout package, after all, but significantly less than they’d asked for and under conditions that have real teeth.

It’s increasingly hard to justify saving Detroit’s Big Three when they’ve done little more than churn out crappy products for more than 60 years. The U.S. auto industry chose to ignore numerous warnings from numerous sources, instead hitting the snooze button at every wake-up call. Making business decisions based on what’s good for investors during the current quarter and possibly the next while steadfastly ignoring the necessity of making long-range plans to ensure long-term profitability is not a strategy for long-term success.

Instead of heeding Alvin Toffler’s prophecies (Future Shock, 1970; The Third Wave, 1980; Powershift, 1990) regarding sweeping changes about to overtake entire societies, economies, and governments, the Big Three pursued about-to-become-extinct technology while Toyota, Honda, Tesla and Karma (among others) got the jump on them.

While tempting, letting the Big Three fail is not something we should seriously consider. Too many other businesses and industries are tied directly or indirectly to U.S. automakers; allowing the Big Three to fail would impact these and send a ripple effect across the broader economy, ultimately costing taxpayers many times more than the amounts proposed for an initial bailout package.

However, any bailout money forthcoming should have some serious strings attached. Without incentives, corporate CEOs have no reason to change and past bad management practices will continue. Government, rather than making cash loans or gifts to the Big Three, should buy up all the common stock in those companies, nationalize them, kick the CEOs out of their corporate jets (sans golden parachutes), hire new managers, redefine corporate missions and rewrite corporate charters, and chart a new course for each company that best reflects the changing dynamics of 21st –century reality as dictated by environmental, economic, demographic, societal, sustainability and peak oil considerations.

When profitability has been restored—and surely it will be—government should divest itself of ownership in these companies and invest ownership in the people who actually manufacture the tangible products. When workers have an ownership interest in the companies they work for, they tend to be happier, more satisfied, more stable and more productive. Everyone wins.

To do nothing to save the Big Three automakers from total collapse would be irresponsible; some 3 million jobs ultimately hang in the balance. But more stilted 20th-century thinking is not the answer, either. That’s precisely what brought the economy to its knees to begin with.

What we need now are radical new paradigms for economic survival, environmental sustainability, and social equity. We need brilliant minds and bold visionaries to show us the way. We need wise and selfless leaders to take us there. But most of all we need the collective will to make it happen.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bold Career Move

As a political candidate, Sarah Palin bombed. But she comported herself admirably on SNL, and that leads me to believe that she could begin a successful new career in show business. After apprenticing as Tina Fey’s stunt double, she could segue into the title role in The Tina Fey Story. From there, she could transition into a daytime soap opera about a lunatic bitch with political aspirations, from which she could retire in relative obscurity (hmmm, Whoopie Goldberg’s movie, The Telephone, springs immediately to mind).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

About Last Night

The long nightmare is almost over. Last night, the Obama juggernaut blew the doors off the Straight Talk Express. No surprise there; it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that the wheels had come off that bus long before it ever left the depot.

Last night, Senator Barack Obama became President-elect of the United States of America.

Last night, Senator John McCain delivered what was probably the finest speech of his political career.

Last night, our nation took its first tentative steps into the 21st century.

Last night delivered hope for a better future.

At this time I’d like to extend my sincere congratulations to the Obama campaign team for a hard-won victory, and to express my best wishes to Obama for much good luck and many successes. He’s going to need an abundance of both to erase the ill effects of eight years of the Bush League’s bad decisions and failed policies.

And for those of you who were disappointed or outraged by the election results—especially if you cringe at the mention of the name Barack Hussein Obama—repeat after me: Barry “who’s sane” O’Bama, Barry “who’s sane” O’Bama, Barry “who’s sane” O’Bama.

Chant it like a mantra for the rest of the day. By tomorrow, he’ll seem just like reg’lar folks, and you’ll begin to realize how fortunate the nation is to have this exceptional man as our next President.

As I said at the beginning, the long nightmare is almost over. Now, let the dreaming begin.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Selection

Color played a big role in who I voted for in this election. No, it’s not what you think. Let me explain.

Not race nor skin color nor ethnicity had a part in helping me decide which candidates to vote for. The contenders could all be purple with orange polka-dots and green racing stripes for all I care. The important thing for a candidate to earn my vote is to share my ideals and represent my interests.

Although Obama is a better choice for President than McCain (and I fully expect him to win the Presidency by a decisive margin), I voted for Cynthia McKinney. And that’s where color enters the picture; she’s got the “green” racing stripes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Random Thoughts on Candidates McCain and Palin

It was obvious on SNL that Tina Fey does Sarah Palin better than Sarah Palin. When Palin does Palin, it comes across as an imperfect imitation of Tina Fey imitating Sarah Palin; Tina Fey owns Sarah Palin.

* * *

At this point I’m thinking that it’s probably no mere coincidence that the only difference between “Palin” and “Pain” is the presence or absence of the letter “l.” Nor is there a high probability of coincidence that “McCain” becomes “McPain” simply by swapping out the “C” for a “P.” You can see where I’m going with this. (Because I’m writing this on a PC, I’ll offer it up as further proof that all things are in some way connected.)

So, what does all this pain have to do with a McCain/Palin Presidency/Vice Presidency? Oh, my brothers and sisters, have you not been paying attention these past eight years? McCain and Palin are a toxic combination representing the status quo; this duhnamic duo would compound the problems engineered by Bush and Company and bring unimaginable, unendurable and unprecedented pain upon America and a large majority of her citizens for many years into the future—if we’re fortunate enough to even have a future.

* * *

Is Sarah Palin Greg Stillson in drag? I can’t say for sure, but whenever I see her give a speech as a Vice-Presidential candidate, I’m reminded of the character (a Congressional candidate with aspirations of one day running for President) from Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone, and of the same dark vision of the country as seen by Johnny Smith.

* * *

Neither of these disingenuous tools of the NeoCon spin machine are what they claim to be. John consistently and persistently misrepresents himself as a war hero (he was not) and Sarah consistently and persistently overstates her qualifications to hold a high-level position in public office. And both of these unscrupulous candidates shamelessly smear Barack Obama with a barrage of half-truths and lies, diminishing themselves in the process.

Remember the Savings & Loan scandal that left taxpayers on the hook for $billions? Remember Charles Keating and the Keating Five? Without John McCain, it would have been the Keating Four.

McCain berates Obama for lacking judgment, but how much judgment did McCain show by selecting Palin as his running mate? No, I don’t mean as helping or hurting his chances for election, I mean as how it might affect the country if he’s elected, dies while in office (considering his age and his health history—not to mention his undisclosed health records—there’s a good chance of that happening), and Sarah ascends to the Presidency. Is Sarah ready to lead? Not even close.

She lacks experience and/or expertise in all the critical areas that define a world-class leader. She has no military experience, lacks significant foreign policy experience, and her diplomatic skills leave much to be desired. Despite being a self-proclaimed energy expert, she has no energy policy other than “Drill, baby, drill.” Her answer to global warming and its environmental consequences is to ignore them or, worse, deny them. And where are her plans for addressing the other problems—all tough challenges, to be sure—facing Americans in the immediate future; crumbling infrastructure, universal healthcare, economic instability, the national debt, the failures of public education, looming food and water crises, national security, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and numerous others? Sending Ms. Palin in to do a competent persons job would be like sending in a person to oversee U.S. Military operations in the Middle East based on prior experience as a Boy Scout troop leader. To put it succinctly, it mustn’t happen.

* * *

No doubt Sarah set the bar to qualify for public office too low. By her standards, even I am qualified to hold the office of President or Vice-President of the U.S.

Just for the hell of it, and to prove to you how empty and meaningless all these claims made in the name of political self-aggrandizement really are, let’s compare my qualifications to hold the office of Vice President (or President) with Sarah Palin’s.

Military Experience

An ability to make sound military decisions is essential to the person who, as President, is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. Lacking actual military experience or a War College education, a minimum requirement would be to have read Sun Tsu’s The Art of War.

Whereas Sarah visited a military base in Kuwait, I’ve resided on several military bases in the U.S., MCRD San Diego, Camp Pendleton, and Twenty-nine Palms among them, and served TD at several others. As a civilian truck driver I delivered loads of strategic materials to other military bases, including McCord AFB, Fort Lewis, El Toro MAS, and Nellis AFB. Although I missed pulling duty in Viet Nam by luck-of-the-draw, any way you want to slice and dice it, my military experience trumps Palin’s. Oh, yeah, and I’ve read Sun Tsu’s The Art of War.

Foreign Policy Experience

Sarah “High-heel Hitler” Palin cites Alaska’s proximity to Russia—and her ability to see Russia from Alaska if she stands at exactly the right spot at the right time of day and the right time of year—as a substantial part of her foreign policy experience. She also thinks that a brief refueling stop in Ireland counts as foreign policy experience, as well. Real stretches of the imagination, any way you want to pull them. And I’m not absolutely sure if meeting with U.S. troops in Kuwait counts as foreign policy experience, either; I’ll guess that it doesn’t.

Sarah might be able to see Russia under ideal conditions, but I can find Russia on a world map. Sarah had a brief refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, on her way to visiting a U.S. Military base in Kuwait; I’ve refueled at truck stops, most of which sell fuel refined from foreign-supplied oil sold on the international market, all across the country.

According to Sarah’s twisted logic, any connection at all to the term international is enough to qualify someone for the office of Vice President. But if that’s the case, then I must be overqualified by virtue of my résumé of connections to the term. In various past lives I hauled container-loads of hay cubes bound for Japan (an international market) for Viking International driving an International truck; while in the military I performed preventive maintenance on International Harvester heavy equipment (TD-18s, TD-24s); I’ve flown out of and into Portland International Airport, raced at Portland International Raceway, and eaten at International House of Pancakes. I’ve even been known to use IBM (International Business Machines) office equipment.

Despite all of this International experience, I’m still hard-pressed to make a rational argument, on that basis alone, that I’m qualified to hold high public office. And (on that basis alone) Sarah’s no better positioned to make a rational argument for qualification than I am.

Foreign Trade

Governor Palin boasts about a $40 billion pipeline to carry natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope to Alberta, Canada, and points beyond as if it were a done deal. It’s not. On the downside, an AP investigation uncovered a rigged bidding process that threw the construction contract to TransCanada Corp., a company with close ties to Palin’s pipeline team. Before construction can begin, TransCanada must skirt some major financial barriers and regulatory impediments; the project’s completion is years away. Still, I guess you can chalk this up as foreign trade experience for Palin.

My own foreign trade experience is far less grandiose than Sarah’s, but the sheer amount of it dwarf’s hers in comparison. For seven-and-a-half years during the mid-eighties and early nineties, I conducted international trade missions to Canada (Vancouver, B.C. and neighboring towns and cities), making twice-weekly deliveries of critical commodities (snack pies and other bakery products) to pre-established distribution centers. As a result of this experience I mastered one of two Canadian languages, which I now speak and write fluently. Put another checkmark in the plus column for me.

Prior to that I participated in two covert missions into Mexico (Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez) to randomly sample various ethanol-containing products commonly sold on the open market, and to stimulate the local economy. The aforementioned incursions into the territories of a sovereign foreign nation qualified as hazardous duty; indeed, I came away from each suffering severe short-term brain trauma, from which I recovered in less than 24 hours (yet another testament to my endurance, resiliency and tenacity—all desired characteristics of a leader).

Once again, my experience (depending on how you spin it) eclipses Sarah Palin’s.

Leadership Experience

For leadership experience, Sarah cites (in part) her two terms as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and the role she played in directing the daily machinations of that town of fewer than 10,000 people. By the end of her terms, conservative Mayor Palin increased the tax burden on each of Wasilla’s taxpaying citizens by more than 30% and left the town more than $20 million in debt.

Although I’ve never been mayor, as a construction flagger I directed traffic on a street improvement project in a city with three times the population, which I would argue is the more challenging job because survival is not about getting reelected at the end of your term but about staying alive ’til the end of the day.

Although I’ve never lead anything larger than a grade school assembly, I live in a city whose metropolitan area has a population roughly twice as large as Alaska’s. Whether you lead or are led, the larger the population the greater your responsibility.

Sarah also trumpets her two-year experience as Governor of Alaska, the nation’s largest state, as proof that she’s Presidential material. But what does this claim really mean? Not much, really. Really! Alaska, at more than twice the size of Texas, has the fourth smallest population of all the states, and it accounts for less than ¼ of 1% of the nation’s total population. Someone should tell Sarah that governing is not about the number of square miles that lie within the borders of one’s realm, but the number of people. (It’s people that need governing; the land, in the absence of people, takes care of itself.)

If you can believe the information posted on her official Web site, some of Sarah’s most recent important accomplishments as governor of Alaska include appointing or reappointing people to various positions within her administration, the ceremonial lowering of the flag in honor of a deceased retired judge, and bitching about the protections afforded endangered Beluga whales in Cook Inlet—not exactly the kinds of stuff that make great Presidents or VPs.

* * *

As you can see, my experience in every category equals or exceeds that of Governor Palin. Am I qualified? Is Sarah Palin? So go ahead, vote for me as a write-in candidate for Vice President. True, there’s not much chance of me winning, but I have my resignation letter already prepared just in case.

* * *

Vote on or before November 4th. If you wait until November 5th (as Rethugs suggested certain Democrats do) it's too late.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tempting Fate

"Even if an asteroid were to blot out New Orleans today, a giant squid were to topple the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow, and fire ants were to kill every human on Fire Island by the end of Thursday, the biggest story of the week would still be McCain's cockeyed selection of Palin." —Jack Shafer

Hey, I get it! You supported Hillary, and when she didn’t get the nomination, it really pissed you off. I mean really pissed you off. Pissed you off so much, in fact, that now you’re going to throw your vote to Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin to get even.

Huh? What are you thinking? How does shooting yourself (and your country) in the foot bring you anywhere close to being even? How does voting to continue, for four more years, the same failed or failing Bush policies of the last eight years get you anywhere near being close to even?

Before you cast your vote for President/Vice President in the upcoming election, think long and hard about the unintended consequences that a McCain/Palin administration might hold in store for the country. Ask yourself if John McCain and Sarah Palin are the agents of change they claim to be, and whether any changes likely to occur under a McCain/Palin administration would be changes for the better or changes for the worse.

In fact, a successful McCain/Palin bid for the White House would be a huge setback for the country, with the environment, healthcare, the economy, national infrastructure, education, and renewable energy taking the hardest hits. I don’t expect Constitutional Law, women’s rights, or anyone else’s rights to fare much better. The only changes you’re likely to get under a McCain/Palin administration are the changes that strip away gains made over the last 30‒50 years and return us to a bygone era of onerous laws and shortsighted policies, but with the high prices of everything intact.

Make no mistake, McCain and Palin will not bring the kind of changes you want to see. John “the Maverick” McCain has voted with George W. Bush about 90% of the time, and Sarah Palin is George Bush in drag. That both of these candidates are total strangers to the truth is reason enough not to vote them into office.

Don’t let your desire to see a woman in the White House stampede you into helping put the wrong woman there. If you must vote for a female chief executive or vice-chief executive this election cycle, why not vote for the Green Party candidates, Cynthia Ann McKinney and Rosa Clemente? You can help elect two female top executives with one vote, and at the same time avoid the downside of a third consecutive Republican administration.

Yes, it takes time and effort, but it’s imperative that you get acquainted with the candidates, become familiar with the critical issues, and above all that you vote with your intellect and not with your emotions. The fate of your country—of our country—depends on it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Shocking Choice by John McCain

WASHINGTON-- Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. To follow is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

“Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

“Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration.

“This is Senator McCain’s first significant choice in building his executive team and it’s a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain’s commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil.”

This blog entry courtesy of Rodger Schlickeisen and the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Modest Proposal

Whenever the government deems a large corporation too important to the national interest to be allowed to fail, it invariably rides to the rescue on truckloads of taxpayer’s money. It’s the government’s way of rewarding corporate ineptitude, malfeasance and greed.

But a government-assisted bailout for private businesses is bad policy, and government should not engage in providing financial support or assistance to corporations that suffer from inept management or the malfeasance of highly positioned corporate insiders. Government’s proper role is to provide regulatory and oversight functions, to enforce corporate compliance with established rules and regulations, and to protect the citizens it governs from corporate irresponsibility and excess.

Instead of allowing corporations that privatize profits to get a free ride at public expense when calculated risk goes awry, government should intervene on behalf of the public. If a business is truly crucial to national interests, at the first signs of financial collapse government should step in—quickly and decisively—and nationalize the business.

Were this policy put into widespread practice, I think we’d see many fewer incidences of corporate shenanigans and much more corporate responsibility. The threat of nationalization would almost certainly cause most—if not all—corporate leaders to clean up their act.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Laughing Matter

This sounds so outrageous, it seems like a joke or something out of "The Onion."

Attorney General Michael Mukasey is demanding that Congress issue a new declaration of war so that anyone that this president or the next one declares to be an "enemy combatant" can be held indefinitely without a trial.

The new declaration of war would make the entire globe — including the United States itself — a “battlefield” where the president decides who will be locked up forever.

With only five weeks left in the Congressional schedule and only six months left in the Bush presidency, Mukasey’s ridiculous power grab should be laughed out of town. But given this Congress’ track record, the Mukasey proposal is no laughing matter. Especially because it also includes a cover-up of the Bush administration’s systemic torture and abuse of detainees.

We can’t take for granted that Congress will reject this outrageous proposal. We have to meet it with an immediate wall of protest that says to Congress: “Don’t you dare.”

I just told my members of Congress to reject the dangerous Bush/Mukasey plan. You can do the same thing here.

(This blog entry courtesy of the ACLU.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ye Gods, We Hardly Knew Ye

The forum discussion following an article on AlterNet a few days ago got me to thinking about science and technology and how we humans show a marked tendency to abuse them. In particular, our overreliance on technology to solve all our problems puts us in the same moral category as the drug-addicted; the mindset (if a little bit is good, more is better) is exactly the same. When we don’t get the desired results, we tend to kick it up a notch, creating endless cycles of bad choices to wipe out the ill effects of previous bad choices. In the end it’s a zero-sum game.

To avoid any confusion about the differences between science and technology, suffice to say that science is more about the process of discovery, of proving or disproving any given theory. On the other hand, technology is more about practical applications of science, of putting scientific discoveries—through innovation and invention—into practice.

(It’s a popular misconception that science and technology will save us from the long-term unintended consequences of past scientific and technological pursuits, despite contraindications that we humans are about to be buried under the rubble of science and technology gone awry. The trouble, of course, is that the solution to one problem begets many more problems, all or none of which might or might not be related to the original problem. One can argue, not too logically, that we need more technology to deal with the problems we already have, but new technology would only bring new problems—amply demonstrated by every technological advance throughout recorded history—so that argument quickly falls apart.

By now you’re probably thinking I’m a Luddite. Maybe I am. But you should know that I’m also an avid sci-fi fan, and that I find science and technology deeply interesting and endlessly fascinating; nothing does more to kindle the fires of imagination and unleash the creative mind than to immerse oneself in the myriad possibilities of things yet to be discovered.

Where sci-tech and I part company is the way in which the discoveries attributable to sci-tech are, too often, ruthlessly exploited by commercial interests for no other purpose than to create wealth. Gone are the days when people did things because things needed doing; now, few people do anything unless they stand to make a buck. Not an absolute, but close enough.

Clever though we are we seem incapable of learning that an ability to do something is not sufficient reason, by itself, to go ahead and do it. In practice, doing anything without a clear understanding of short- and long-term consequences is the moral equivalent of leaping before you look.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fields of genetic engineering, genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, where indiscriminate applications of these particular kinds of technology pose very real dangers of running out of control. Thanks to genetically modified crops that threaten agriculture, and a combination of overused antibiotics, widespread use of artificial fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides, and the irradiation of meat, fruit and vegetables, most of the world’s food supply in now at risk, as is most of the world’s potable water.

No one knows the full extent of the dangers that lie in wait for unwary technophiles and all the rest of humanity as the ruthless exploiters of science and technology make new inroads into unexplored territory, boldly going where no man has gone before, with nary a backward glance or critical thought about possible—or even probable—outcomes.

Has the cleverness of our inventions put us all in peril? Have we humans become the engineers of our own destruction? Or are we engineering something completely different, perhaps the next stage of human evolution? Sensing imminent extinction, might not scientists seek to create new life forms capable of preserving human intelligence and knowledge, acquired over millennia, under conditions that no human could survive?

Humans lacking intelligence and knowledge are little more than naked apes and therefore are—on an evolutionary scale—no more worthy of survival than, say, dodos or pterodactyls or a termite colony. In fact, when it comes to survival, humans lacking intelligence and knowledge are vastly inferior to apes. Thus, intelligence and knowledge and their preservation and perpetuation are the important things; humans not so much.

Picture a distant future in which nanotech life forms directed by artificial intelligence gather periodically in enclaves to pay tribute and swear obeisance to their human creators, that mysterious race of super-beings whose sudden disappearance from Gaia gave rise to new mythologies and became the stuff of a new wave of religious dogma.

And might not future children of the gods utter, in moments of extreme religious fervor and devotion, this simple prayer for salvation: Ye Gods, we hardly knew ye, but please, we beg ye, save us from ourselves?

Then again, maybe artificial intelligence is smarter than that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And the Winner is . . .

Prior to writing and publishing Petey’s Pipeline Blog, I wrote and published Petey’s Pipeline E-zine. The “articles” section of the e-zine, Random Ramblings & Miscellaneous Musings, was the precursor—the prototype, if you will—of Petey’s Pipeline Blog. And, as some—but not all—of you know, Petey is the personification of the acronym PT, which stands for Perfect Text, the name of my Web site.

It’s fair to say that I don’t report the news, I comment on the news. Anything pertaining to environmental, social, political, economic, and cultural subjects is in play and potential grist for my mill.

From a personal standpoint, half the fun of blogging derives from commenting on specific topics and sharing my opinions with readers who can opt to agree or disagree and post comments accordingly. Of course, if my opinions were worth anything, people would actually pay me for them.

The other half of the fun comes from prognosticating about future events based on current or emerging trends, then waiting for those trends to play out and events to unfold to see if my predictions have merit. Sometimes I call ‘em right, sometimes I don’t. To be sure, Allison DuBois has a better track record than I do, but then, my premonitions don’t come to me in dreams; I have to process a lot of information before something takes shape.

Except for cases of self-fulfilling prophecies, making predictions is a dicey game at best. In some respects predicting is a lot like a game of poker, except that it’s almost impossible to influence the outcome of the game. For instance, you can’t bluff the outcome of a prediction the same way you can bluff a poker hand. You can’t up the ante, you can’t raise the bet; you get one call, and if you call it wrong, you lose. No big deal unless the fate of the world hangs on the outcome of your prediction.

Succumbing to the lure of forecasting future events leaves one open to the inevitable barrage of verbal insults hurled by insensitive skeptics and others incapable of thinking outside the mainstream of conventional wisdom. Dare to venture out onto the prognosticator’s precarious limb and you’ll soon become intimately familiar with terms such as bonkers, fruitcake, nutcase, and whack job if you’re frequently wrong. Add freaky and scary to that list if you’re not.

The following excerpts, culled from various past issues of Petey’s Pipeline E-zine that were published between September, 2005 and June, 2006, originated in editorials and articles that I wrote for the e-zine. Some of these predictions are uncanny in their accuracy, while others stray somewhat wide of the mark. I have no explanations or excuses for why things turn out the way they do, and I have no means of forcing a particular outcome. Things are what they are.

Muddling Along (Issue #15, 9/19/05)

“Back in January I predicted that gasoline prices would top $3 per gallon before the end of this year. That prophecy was fulfilled by mid-summer in the Bay Area and in most other areas of the country post-Katrina. What's next? When pumping and refining capacity comes back on-line in the Gulf region, look for gas prices to decline slightly, but don't be surprised if they don't get down to where they were before Katrina's rampage. Then, in the spring of next year (2006), look for prices to start climbing again, hitting $3.50 per gallon by Labor Day. Expect $4 per gallon gasoline by mid-to-late summer of 2007, $6 per gallon by late summer of 2010.”

Okay, my timing was a little off on this one, but the dollar amounts were traveling in the predicted direction. On an accuracy scale of 1‒10, I’d rate this one a 6.

Sane Fiscal Policy or Grand Delusion? (Issue #16, 10/03/05)

“A shortage of living-wage jobs and increasing real estate prices team up to swell the legions of homeless. It may well be impossible to get an accurate count of the number of homeless people in the U.S., but one thing is certain; the real estate bubble has added to the numbers. The inevitable bursting of the real estate bubble will only add to the misery.”

The real estate bubble did burst in 2007. Need I say more? Gave this one a 10.

Speculating in Real Estate (Issue #22, 1/02/06)

“As long as populations continue to grow there will be a demand for additional housing. But when normal demand, low interest rates, double-digit percentages of annual appreciation and perceived opportunity converge, the dynamics of real estate investing change dramatically. Add creative financing strategies to the mix and you have a formula for huge profits—or a financial disaster.”

Huge profits and a financial disaster. Gave this one a 10, also.

Wheels of Progress (Issue #30, 5/01/06)

“International airlines will be among the early casualties. Most of them are already facing financial difficulties, and it can only get worse. Of course, this will surely spell disaster for the aircraft industry and all businesses that supply it or in some way benefit from it.”

Airlines are feeling the pain, which is beginning to ripple across the aircraft industry. Because it’s not fully realized, I rated this prediction a 7.

Business After Peak Oil (Issue #31, 5/15/06)

“Global demand for oil is on the increase; so are gasoline prices. In spite of this people still buy heavy, gas-wasting SUVs and high-performance vehicles with performance capabilities they'll never tap into. People still drive everywhere they go. Yet they bitch, relentlessly, about high gasoline prices, as if their own behavior has nothing to do with it.”

Not so much a prediction as straight observation, so I didn’t rate it.

If there’s a point to foretelling the future, it primarily has to do with raising people’s level of awareness to help prevent them from being blindsided by otherwise sudden unexpected changes to the status quo. And if there’s a point to telling you this, it’s to draw your attention to the fact that I call ‘em like I see ‘em, and that, for the most part, I make good calls.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Did anyone else notice the curious lack of coverage of Dennis Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment against President Bush, on Monday, in the mainstream media? Nothing on network news broadcasts on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; nothing in The Oregonian on those days, either. Finally, on Thursday, The Oregonian saw fit to devote slightly less than eight column-inches to the subject below the fold on page A3.

Meanwhile, above the fold on page A5 of the same issue of our favorite non-news newspaper, The Oregonian’s editors devoted 13 ½ column-inches to regurgitating (or is that re-regurgitating?) the ONDCP Drug Czar John Walter’s anti-pot propaganda for the umpteenth time. Hey, that story is just as lame—and just as wrong—now as it was the first time they told it. Some things never change.

But some things do change, and it seems that our once-trusted news media are among them. It was only a few years ago that news media were beside themselves over President Clinton’s impeachment. The story dominated headlines, garnered extensive coverage, and dragged on for weeks. Neither the news media nor the people who rely on them for daily doses of current events could get enough of it. In retrospect, I think that, as far as the press and most of the people were concerned, it was more about Clinton’s sexual improprieties than it was about Clinton lying to Congress.

And don’t let us forget Watergate. When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the story some 35 years ago, the news media went berserk. From the break-in investigation to the identification and capture of the burglars to the hearings to the eventual impeachment and resignation of President “I am not a crook” Nixon, the ever-present press never once shirked its duty, never once let the American people forget exactly what the press is for. The media buzz went on for months, making or breaking the careers and reputations of countless media and beltway insiders, capturing daily the attention of news junkies from dawn to dark and late into the night.

How times have changed. Today, those whose mission is to collect and disseminate the news seem less concerned about delivering real news and more concerned with not reporting anything that might reflect badly on the Bush Administration. Their intent seems to be to deflect public attention away from important matters to inconsequential things, thus allowing a corrupt and inept government to continue its plundering of national treasures.

Are the news media complicit in Bush’s ongoing efforts to destroy all that is good about America? My guess is they are. Or, maybe, the media’s apparent disregard for real news is just another symptom of the general malaise that travels hand-in-hand with entropy as it brings the forward progress of our once-great nation to a screeching halt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Healthy Choices

Hillary Clinton has a national healthcare plan. Barack Obama has a healthcare plan, too, although his is somewhat less comprehensive than Hillary’s. John McCain has no plan, save for one to keep the U.S. Military engaged in Middle East affairs for as long as it takes to defeat global terrorism—a mammoth undertaking with a high probability of failure, given the climate of violence arising out of ongoing clashes of ideologies. But, I digress; McCain and global terrorism are not part of this discussion.

No, this discussion is about devising an affordable healthcare plan that’s inclusive of all Americans. While both the Clinton and Obama plans are better than the current one, neither of them goes the full distance. Each relies on a mish-mash of obsolete ideas and outdated methodology to achieve less-than-perfect results.

Although most everyone agrees that the healthcare system needs an overhaul, few agree on how to do it. Granted, it’s a complex subject not given to quick or easy fixes, so maybe it’s better to drop the notion of an overhaul and begin thinking in terms of designing a new system from the ground up.

The first consideration in devising a new healthcare plan is trimming costs without paring away essential services. Make every healthcare dollar count by adopting more efficient methods, eliminating wasteful spending, and by taking advantage of numerous medical and medicinal alternatives.

A single-payer system seems like the best option for providing broad-spectrum healthcare coverage to all citizens at the lowest possible cost. Private and group health insurance carriers need to make a profit in order to survive, and every dollar that goes toward insurance company profits is a dollar not spent directly on medical services. At least 30% of the money now spent on healthcare insurance is essentially wasted because it disappears into the black hole of insurance company profits.

Prevention is almost always cheaper than the cure, but vast sums of money are wasted because preventive medicine is often disallowed, thereby assuring that preventable or easily cured illnesses evolve into ailments that are both more difficult and more expensive to treat. Could annual health checkups for everyone ultimately result in lower healthcare costs due to early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening or life-changing illnesses?

The uninsured also contribute to rising medical costs because they tend to delay seeking treatment until an ailment becomes life-threatening, at which point they enter the healthcare system through a hospital emergency ward, where medical costs are among the highest, but where, by law, treatment can’t be refused because of an inability to pay.

Over-reliance on prescription drugs is another factor in rising medical care costs. Natural remedies are sometimes as effective as their Big Pharma-supplied counterparts, and they’re almost always less expensive. Unfortunately, lower-cost alternatives are either ignored or banned outright while high-priced pharmaceuticals drive healthcare costs ever higher.

Personal choices also affect the cost of health care. Emphasize health education by making health studies a mandatory part of the school curriculum at every grade level. An increase of health awareness will surely lead to better diets and nutrition, optimal physical fitness, and smarter lifestyle choices, all of which have the potential to extend life expectancy while lowering overall healthcare costs. Personal responsibility for one’s health is not something that can or should be left out of the healthcare equation.

Financing and administering a universal healthcare plan pose the greatest challenges to providing comprehensive care to everyone. To simplify things, why not roll universal health care under the Social Security umbrella? Create a new healthcare fund to co-exist side-by-side with the Social Security retirement fund (but in a separate account), with both employers and employees paying into it, just as they now pay into the Social Security fund. Employers and employees alike will pay substantially less to a single-payer insurer than they now pay to group insurers, and get a better level of healthcare in the bargain.

The foregoing ideas are preliminary, basic, and intended only to provide the barest framework around which to build a viable, comprehensive healthcare plan that works for everyone. No doubt that much work remains to be done. Others will have different ideas, perhaps better ideas, but all ideas must be considered until such time that our political leaders, grassroots activists, and citizen voters pool their collective resources to devise and implement a workable healthcare package that leaves no citizen behind.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Of Tangled Webs and Weaving

Even though Hillary’s campaign seems to be losing momentum, might in fact be dead, it refuses to grind to a dead stop. Hillary bravely soldiers on, much to the delight of dwindling numbers of supporters—and GOP members made ecstatic by the continuing divide within the Democratic Party. At this point, by remaining in the race she does the party more harm than good.

Frankly, I can’t understand why so many people continue to sing Hillary’s praises. Why would anyone vote for a proven liar who campaigns mostly in the State of Denial? Wait! Let me answer my own question: For the same reasons many of them voted for George W. Bush. But possessing great mass appeal is not the same as possessing the qualities found in great leaders, and (to use Bush in another example) having shit for brains does not automatically endow one with a fertile imagination or advanced critical thinking skills.

There’s no doubt that Hillary is smart, I’ll give her credit for that. But she’s also ambitious, power-hungry, disingenuous, manipulative and conniving; her unwarranted attacks against Senator Obama did nothing so much as reveal her true character—junkyard dog attributes of ferocity and tenacity, with none of the endearing qualities such animals possess. That she vastly overstated both her experience and her accomplishments present other obstacles to her ascension to the Presidency. In short, a surplus of negatives and a dearth of positives tend to distance her from the office she covets.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, her statement about coming under fire in Bosnia was over the top. The news video of her arrival in Bosnia, which was re-released shortly after she made the sniper comment, clearly showed her strolling serenely away from the aircraft while daughter Chelsea stopped to greet a Bosnian child. If fusillades of snipers’ bullets threatened them, everyone pictured in the video was oblivious to the danger, including Hillary.

A question that has never been answered to my satisfaction is what part would Bill play in a Hillary Clinton administration. Would his proximity to the White House cast him in the role of de facto President, de facto Vice President, or some other influential position? Sorry, but Bill served two terms as President; he’s not eligible to serve another.

Although I think the time is right for a woman to occupy the White House, I don’t think Hillary is the right woman. If you’re bent on voting for a woman in this election, why not vote for Cynthia Ann McKinney, the 6-term Georgia Congresswoman and Green Party candidate? She has more practical political experience than Hillary, and she better represents progressive values.

Blame Hillary for her campaign’s steady reversal of fortune. Last June, she led in the polls by a wide margin, but then she started talking and it was game over. Perhaps Hillary does that shot-to-the-foot thing as a prelude to—and justification for—inserting her foot in her mouth.

Did Hillary flunk Ethics 101? Apparently so! It appears she forgot her lessons about tangled webs and weaving and the downside of the practice of deceiving.

I wish I could say that I wish Hillary well, but in truth I wish she’d just go away.

Addendum: Head on over to Chuck for . . . to see what Chuck Butcher said about Hillary in his latest blog post.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Salmon and the Sea Lion

It’s always gratifying to engage an expert in debate about subjects of interest to me and discover that what I think I know is not all that far removed from scientific reality. Such was the case on the afternoon of this Sunday past when I cornered my neighbor, who just happens to be a fish biologist, and solicited his educated opinion on the long-term prospects for Pacific Northwest salmon. Hint: Don’t look for cheap salmon anytime soon.

As it turns out, sea lions play a less important role in the decline of salmon runs than do dams and deteriorating ocean conditions. In fact, salmon (and other commercial fish species) face numerous threats, almost all of which relate to human activity. Global warming, air and water pollution, and overfishing are major contributors to the sharp decline of nearly all marine species.

Sea lions infiltrating inland waterways are a fairly recent phenomenon. But the fact that sea lions are dining at Chez Bonneville Dam rather than at Sea Lion Caves Dive ‘n’ Thrive is of little consequence to salmon’s long-term survival. Sea lions have always dined on salmon, among other fish species.

That so many sea lions have found it necessary to learn a new behavior in order to keep themselves fed brings to mind the famous (infamous?) Willie Horton quote: When asked why he robbed banks, Willie answered, “Because that’s where the money is.” It’s highly probable that sea lions are feasting at Bonneville Dam because they’re not finding sufficient sustenance in their normal ocean habitat.

The human impact on oceans is huge, and it’s taking a toll on all life forms on the planet—not just those that live in marine environments. If only humans would change their behaviors in ways that lessen their impacts on Gaia’s ecosystems, fewer other species would find it necessary to change theirs.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Taxing Ideas

In a recent TV campaign ad, Steve Novick, one of several Oregon Democrats vying for Republican Gordon Smith’s U.S. Senate seat, says that even millionaires should have 100% of their earnings subjected to Social Security tax. He’s exactly right. If having 100% of earnings subject to S.S. tax is good enough for those making less than $97,500 a year, it’s good enough for those who make more than that amount, too.

But why stop there? Why not make all income, regardless of its source, fair game for Social Security taxes? And while we’re at it, why not subject all income, regardless of source, to the same tax rates? The idea that investors are entitled to special tax rates on investment income because invested money is “at risk” capital is specious bullshit.

If risk is a legitimate argument for preferential tax treatment, then people who work in hazardous occupations should also qualify for lower tax rates. After all, their “capital”—their health and physical well being—is also at risk whenever they engage in hazardous occupational activity. Any injury or health defect sustained in the course of earning an income has the potential to compromise one’s ability to earn future income.

The newly enfranchised tax break beneficiaries must include loggers, miners, fishers, truckers, construction workers, commercial pilots, cops, firemen, machinists, bartenders, convenience store clerks, production workers, office workers . . . oh, hell! Let’s just include all workers regardless of their job. Everyone, during the course of their work, is at risk for some type of injury or adverse health consequence that can be attributed to the job.

A question we should all ask ourselves is if working-class people paid the same tax rates currently enjoyed by the wealthiest 1%, could the government continue to provide services at the same level it now provides. If the answer is yes, then Congress should immediately (and retroactively) extend Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to include the not so wealthy. If the answer is no, then Congress should rescind Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and strive to make taxes equitable across the board.

Damnit, I know that taxes can seem onerous at times, but try funding fire and police protection, primary and secondary education, transportation infrastructure, military defense, and a litany of other services that government agencies normally provide out of your own pocket and see how little your money—without government involvement—will buy. Suddenly, taxes begin to look like a bargain.

Granted, government spending is often wasteful, but reining in corporate influences over government entities, providing better oversight of government policies and programs, demanding personal accountability from our elected and appointed officials, and eliminating overlaps and redundancies to streamline government services and make them more efficient would go a long way toward reducing costs and restoring the public’s confidence in government. There’s no incentive more important to taxpayers than the perception that their tax dollars aren’t wasted, that they’re actually spent to pay for things that have demonstrable value.

No one likes paying taxes; I get that. But if you think that the answer to taxes is to slash government services, privatize as much as you can of what remains, and outsource everything else in the mistaken belief that corporations can provide a higher level of service at a lower cost than government can, you haven’t been paying attention.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sensing the Census, Circa 2050

6.7 to 9.2. Billion. The difference between these two numbers is the projected global population increase between now and 2050. I’ve seen these same figures (or close approximations) mindlessly repeated on a plethora of popular blogs and Web sites, but no one seems to be questioning the validity of this false premise.

Sure, in theory the global population could increase by roughly 45-50% over 40 years, providing that all the conditions that support the theory are at optimum levels. The only problem with the “everything’s perfect” scenario is that everything’s not. When all of the negatives are factored into the equation the theory doesn’t hold up.

Take the current population, for instance. As it approaches 7 billion people, it’s already exceeded sustainable numbers by 4‒5 billion. If the world cannot sustain the people that are already here, how can it possibly accommodate 2‒3 billion more?

The short answer is that it can’t, for reasons that are—or will soon become—obvious.

As a growing global population increases the demand for energy, timber, food, water and other resources, it sets into motion a series of causes and effects that produce some interesting but altogether predictable results.

For example, increased energy use fuels the rise of energy prices and contributes to global climate changes and higher costs for food production, processing, packaging, transportation, and storage; global climate changes affect the abundance and availability of potable water, alter growing seasons, and redefine the boundaries between arable and non-arable land.

When timber is removed from forest lands to clear the way for agriculture or to supply the housing market with building materials or with buildable land, the loss of potential for carbon sequestration introduces positive feedback loops that exacerbate global climate change. Vicious circles, ‘round and ‘round they go.

Growing demand for energy, food, and other vital resources increases the likelihood of wars between nations to obtain these resources. The potential loss of human life due to war, disease, famine, and a laundry list of pending environmental and climate disasters means that the global population in the year 2050 is far more likely to be under 3 billion people than it is to be over 7 billion people. No way will it ever exceed 9 billion people.

Face it! We’ve been cursed. We do, indeed, live in interesting times, and the times are about to get even more interesting. We’ve taunted the piper into playing, now pay the piper we must.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Out, Damned Incumbent!

Tuesday night’s televised debate between the three leading Democratic candidates for Oregon’s contested US. Senate seat was both highly informative and surprisingly civil. The candidates, Candy Neville, Steve Novick, and Jeff Merkley, comported themselves well, were uniformly polite, articulate, well informed, and passionate about changing the status quo on a number of issues important to Oregonians.

Standing out in stark contrast to ABC’s Presidential debate, which aired Wednesday night on Channel 2, the Channel 8 affair provided prospective voters with useful information about where the respective candidates stand on various important issues—the occupation of Iraq, the economy, health care, affordable housing, and immigration among them. While there was the usual amount of political posturing going on, the ad hominem attacks and pointless rhetorical questions that have come to characterize typical political campaigns were noticeably absent.

Although I’ve been leaning toward Novick since the beginning of his campaign (and I saw nothing on Tuesday night to change my mind about this), I won’t be too disappointed if he fails to make the cut; I’ll cheerfully vote for whichever of these fine candidates ends up on the ballot. Ron Wyden needs someone to compliment his votes in the Senate, not someone who consistently cancels them out.

To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare: Out, damned incumbent! Gordon Smith has been an obstacle to progress long enough.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stuck on Stupid?

KATU News broke the story last week; evidently, Oregon DHS is at it again. Having failed in their half-witted attempt to deport Gabriel Allred, they’re now trying to deport 2-year-old Faith Cephus to Mexico, to live with people she doesn’t know and who are not related to her. Well, that’s only partly true. Faith would be living with a couple of half-siblings. It’s the people who would be adopting her that she’s not related to.

What’s up with that, anyway? Is this just more DHS business-as-usual, or is there something of a more nefarious nature going on? I don’t know if legal precedent for deporting U.S. citizens has already been established, or whether DHS’s recent efforts are meant to establish legal precedence, but in any case I think it’s bad policy.

DHS should concern itself more with preventing injustices than it does in perpetrating more of them. Are the DHS honchos stuck on stupid, or have they nothing better to do?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Starve the Bitch

This just in from confirms what many of us suspected from the very beginning of Bush’s Folly—that those who perpetrated this insane invasion and potentially endless occupation of Iraq haven’t a clue as to what they’re talking about. Nor do they seem to know what they’re doing.

Warmongers lied their way (and the rest of us) into a U.S. war against Iraq; every few months they regurgitate the same disingenuous rhetoric to plead their case before Congress for funds to keep the insanity alive. They put us into a no-win situation and covered up that fact using selectively biased reporting and gross distortions of the truth to camouflage their malfeasance.

The time for Congress to put an end to the disastrous travesty that has become the Iraq occupation is long past due. Congress must reject Bush’s request for additional funds to keep the occupation going (starve the bitch), approve only the funding necessary to ensure the safe and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. Military personnel and equipment from Iraq. More than 60% of Americans and more than 70% of Iraqis want the U.S. occupation of Iraq to end, so end it should; neither nation can long tolerate a continuation of the status quo.

At the same time, Congress must also begin impeachment proceedings against Bush, Cheney, Condi Rice, et al; hold those responsible for the Iraq debacle accountable for their actions.

Finally, Congress must draw up plans for making reparations payments to Iraq for damages inflicted, and put those plans into action a.s.a.p.

There are more important problems than Iraq that demand our immediate attention, but until we get beyond Iraq, all else is on hold.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Allred Update

Okay, now it’s official. Gabriel Justice Brandt, formerly known as Gabriel Allred, whom I wrote about in December of last year, is now the legally adopted son of Steve and Angela Brandt. While that in itself is good news, even better news is that young Gabe won’t be setting any precedents as the first U.S. citizen to be deported to a foreign country by overreaching DHS staffers.

As a condition of the adoption, Gabriel must learn to speak Spanish in addition to his native English. It’s not a particularly onerous condition, and mastery of a second language can only work in Gabe’s favor. In fact, I think it would behoove every U.S. citizen to learn a second language of their choice. There are, after all, advantages in knowing what other people are talking about.

In the spirit of being true to the idea of practicing what one preaches, I’m now fully engaged in learning a second language. Due to time constraints and the difficulty of teaching an old dog new tricks, as a strictly practical matter I chose a foreign language that would be the least challenging to learn.

I’m happy to report that my Canadian as Second Language (CSL) studies are progressing nicely, and that I’ve already achieved higher levels of proficiency and fluency than I initially expected. Not bad, eh?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wake Up, People!

“The Judds worship money. They make it a stand-in for all the other qualities of life. If you can be nice, or have money, take the money. If you can be brave, or have money, take the money. If you can have friends or have money, take the money. They’re like that. They don’t even hide it. Take the money.” —Excerpted from Dark of the Moon, by John Sandford

There’s something inherently wrong with a system that trades real wealth for the illusion of wealth. That so many people subscribe to the illusion only compounds the problem.

Monetary wealth, as most people know, never trickles downward. Instead, it works its way upward, pulling poverty along behind it. This kind of wealth redistribution is acceptable to the privileged and powerful. The kind of wealth redistribution that’s not acceptable to them is the kind they fear the most, the kind that takes money out of their pockets and into the hands of the lower classes.

The wealthy class does whatever it takes to protect its wealth and accumulate more; lie, cheat, steal—even kill when it’s expedient. The dominant mindset of the fabulously wealthy is that no amount of excess is excessive, no amount of greed inexcusable, and that too much is never enough.

We live in a broken world, a world that humans broke by using a symbiotic combination of unbridled capitalism and rampant greed. With global rainforests in decline, ocean ecosystems in disarray and on the brink of imminent collapse, and agricultural land threatened by encroaching population growth and the attendant pollution and resource exploitation that inevitably leads to desertification— all for the sake of personal and corporate profits—we’re quickly reaching a point beyond which the damage is irrevocable and our chances of recovery nil.

As currently practiced, capitalism is nothing more than a high-stakes Monopoly game in which the more one acquires the more one is able to acquire. Money begets money begets power begets more of each, ad infinitum.

It’s precisely this kind of wealth accumulation that disenfranchises a huge majority of the population, that allows public infrastructure to crumble, the quality of education to decline, the number of living wage jobs to plummet; it fuels inflation, stifles economic competition, drives housing costs into unaffordable territory for many, and puts health care out of reach for many more.

One of the major flaws of capitalism is that it overvalues money and undervalues or refuses to recognize other forms of wealth; healthy ecosystems, unpolluted air and water, pristine environments, biological diversity, food and water security, and sustainability are prime examples of various forms of wealth that are given short shrift in capitalism’s marketplace.

But capitalism has other flaws, too, some of them fatal. Although you’ll never get hardcore capitalists to admit it, capitalism’s primary fatal flaw is that it eventually consumes all of its capital, including material resources capital, environmental capital, and human capital. For the capitalist economic model to succeed, it must rely on an endless supply of resources and increasing numbers of consumers, neither of which are possible on a finite world.

Capitalism works just fine as long as there are plentiful resources and a small population with room to expand, but when resource scarcity becomes widespread and population numbers reach the limits of sustainability, it quickly falls apart. When an economic system excludes or disenfranchises large numbers of citizens while simultaneously heaping unearned or undeserved rewards on a much smaller privileged class of citizens, it sets itself up for an avalanche of unintended consequences, including poverty, homelessness, increasing crime rates, infrastructure breakdown, and periods of recession, inflation, and stagflation that eventually end in economic depression.

Tension between a relatively small class of over-privileged rich people and a huge class of marginalized poor people is building. At some point a clash between these two diverse groups is bound to result.

In one scenario of such a conflict, the rich eliminate the threat posed to their wealth simply by disposing of the poor and large segments of the middle class—in other words, the mass extermination of as many as 5.5 billion people worldwide. In another scenario, the poor eat the rich.

There are other ways this can play out, but for peaceful resolutions to the problems presented by wealth disparity to come about, people on both sides of the issue must first come to their senses. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.