Why Jill Stein Has My Vote

Jill Event 1

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the event mentioned in the image above. Two highlights for the day – accidentally got to met Green Party VP Candidate Ajamu Braka back stage when I went out to get some stuff out of the car and we got to hear Jill Stein’s stump speech live and direct.

Some people will vote for Jill because of her New Green Deal plan which involves a massive national effort a la FDR’s New Deal in which we will not only make a massive shift toward renewable energy in the US, but also employ lots of people doing so. Sure, I like that.

Some people will vote for Jill because she believe WATER IS A HUMAN right and she will do everything in her power to protect and preserve what we have as well as make fresh, safe drinking water available to everyone. Yup, I gotta agree with this.

Others find her plan to slash military spending in half and use that money to help forgive student debt and pay for college tuition for those who want to attend college. That is certainly an admirable position.

Those people who have been crushed by medical debt will not doubt support her promise to provide single payer health care – health insurance for ALL – to the only developed nation on the planet that does not year have it. I can get behind this since I am still paying for cancer treatment I received in 2012.

Jill n Ajamu

Jill Stein & Ajamu Baraka in Detroit.

Her promise to end our failed War on Drugs will no doubt resonate with thousands of people from all walks of life and all political persuasions. Works for me.

Her rejection of Political Action Committee bucks and her refusal to take Corporate Money in her campaign speaks volumes to Bernie Sanders supporters and to anyone smart enough to decry the ridiculous influence of money in politics. Amen, sister!

PAc Free

All Green Party Candidates are PAC Free!

All of those reasons are great. Jill’s vision that ALL of us are interconnected and of equal importance is music to my ears. Speaking of music – now we are getting to the one thing Jill did in Detroit that sealed my vote – She jammed on the congas with a stage full of Detroit’s most talented musicians.

Way to go Jill – you got me!

Click Here to See Jill Play the Congas!

Conga Jill 1

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What? Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground?

There are three powerful reasons to support the policy “Leave Fossil Fuels in the Ground.” They all converge on the conclusion that, not only is it a good idea to leave fossil fuels in the ground, it’s a necessity. The only question is whether this will happen with minimal bad effects on our lives or with terrible ones.

In other words, while it might be a serious inconvenience for all of us who have gotten used to cars, air conditioning and vacation resorts, the alternative is economic collapse and disaster if we don’t move away from fossil fuels in a deliberate fashion. Continue reading

Too Little, Too Late for Sure

Now that presents have all been opened and we’re at least beginning to think about cleaning up the resulting mess, we might also want to consider a parallel situation.

We are not quite finished opening up all the presents from fossil fuels. It’s been a process of several centuries since Thomas Newcomen’s atmospheric engine was used in 1712 for pumping in a mine. Although there are a few presents still to be unwrapped, we are certainly beginning to notice the mess left behind – climate change, acidification of the rising oceans, persistent organic pollutants such as pesticides, herbicides and endocrine disruptors, and the cascading consequences of the sixth Great Extinction.

It’s quite a mess to clean up. With the exception of a few efforts here and there, the cleanup has not yet begun. For an idea of just how serious this issue is – far outside the scope of issues hotly debated within our corrupt two-party system – you should really read John Michael Greer’s latest essay “Too Little, Too Late.”  Continue reading

Maybe not Everything – But It Had Better Change the Economy

Here’s an new film with a title that should be familiar from the book. It’s another opportunity to have the sort of community discussions that are so much needed.

 

 

It’s a documentary film, already screened in New York, which will be released nationwide for both theaters and community screenings on October 20, 2015. Hosting a screening is expensive – $200 minimum – but might be worthwhile if you can get a big enough audience. You can see the terms and conditions at http://thefilm.thischangeseverything.org/.

Killing Us Slowly

Practically every Democratic and Republican candidate will tell us economic growth is the only possible path to prosperity, and it’s at the top of their list of priorities. For that matter, there are a number of Green candidates who will say much the same thing. Perhaps, if they actually believe it to be true, then technically it’s not bull$#!+. It’s still wrong.

Economic growth was the path to prosperity as recently as the 1960s. Since then, it’s been working less and less well. The value of real wages went flat in the 1970s, and was erratically flat for decades. More recently, the trend in real wages looks more like decline than flat, in spite of claims of economic recovery since the financial crisis of 2008. All the reporting of inequality shows that benefits of growth have gone to the top 1-10%, with the burdens of decreasing wealth being carried by the bottom 90-99%. Some studies draw the line for benefits at 1% 2% or 5%, but 1-10% is the range of results.

There are many sophisticated economic theories as to why this has happened, but we don’t need to know much about economics to understand the basic situation. Climate change, ocean acidification, radioactive contamination and other industrial pollution have consequences, such as the current “sixth extinction” that is happening daily.

In economic theory, when a voluntary transaction between two parties affects a third party, producing some sort of harm to an innocent bystander, the damaging byproduct of the transaction is considered an “externality.” The emissions and pollutants that industry dumps into air, water and land are deemed externalities. So many externalities have been allowed for so long that all together they are destroying the web of life everywhere on the earth. There’s no such thing as an economy on a dead planet.

The oxygen we breathe and the food we eat is created by other living beings with which we share the planet. That’s what the web of life does for us. If the other living beings are thriving, then we can be thrive. If they are going extinct, then we also are headed for extinction. There are a lot of innocent third parties being harmed by our industrial economy. We are also being harmed. We are not innocent third parties here. We are the guilty first and second parties.

That’s not to say that there are no individually innocent human beings. Children who are powerless to stop industrial damage are innocent. Adults who understand what’s happening and who do have the power to stop it – that’s us – do not get off so easily. There may be some excuses, but there’s no escaping the consequences. All of the things that were free gifts to our economy – soil, clean water, minerals, fish in the sea, passenger pigeons, buffalo – are at best harder and more expensive to find, and this declining environment means directly declining real wages, no matter what is done with the money supply.

Our industrial economy could be pictured as an unhealthy, obese person. Most of the health problems are self-inflicted by a combination of over-eating and under-exercising. Getting healthy will require developing lean muscle mass and losing 100 pounds or more of fat. No sane person would say that growth, simple indiscriminate growth, is the path to restored health.

It’s exactly that simple and indiscriminate recommendation of economic growth that “mainstream” candidates and many of their opponents say is the path to prosperity. Green Party candidates ought to be more discriminating.

Clean, renewable energy – mostly wind and solar – is one part of the economy that should be grown as rapidly as possible. Organic farming (which might be called permaculture or many other names) is another. By whatever name, farming that eliminates pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified plants and animals and the consumption of fossil fuels while building up the soil can provide lots of work whether it’s done in the cities or in the countryside. These are the major components of the lean muscle mass that should be developed.

Minimizing fossil and nuclear fuels with the long-term goal of phasing them out entirely is the part where it’s difficult to shed the fat. This part won’t be easy and it will not happen suddenly. It will require commitment, effort and sacrifice. If the smiles of the contestants who have survived “The Biggest Loser” are an indication, it should be worth the effort.

Now, let’s not push the analogy too far. We’re talking about transforming the society, not about one person losing weight. The essential part of getting from the wasteful, damaging economy to the goal of an equitable and life-supporting economy is to ensure that displaced workers do not become discarded workers in the process.

That means we have to start by ensuring that nobody in this society is discarded into a life of poverty, illiteracy and homelessness. yes, social justice is intimately connected to creating an economy that does not push us toward extinction. Transforming this economy, with all of its jobs in car production, construction, tourism and all the other activities that burn so much energy not provided by sunlight, into one where these jobs are eliminated will never happen if the people holding those jobs understand they will be abandoned.

None of this program is an easy sell for Green candidates: “Business as usual is not just failing. It’s killing us slowly. We can help each other to live peacefully in this world, but it will take a lot of work and there is lots of damage to be repaired.” It’s not a simple, catchy slogan. We can only hope enough people have learned where simple, catchy slogans lead, and they are not willing to go there. When enough people see what’s needed, democracy works.

Wars for Oil – and now for Gas

Wars for oil have a long history.

World War 2 is a good example. Oil was a critical resource for all sides.

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor barely 4 months after the United States established an embargo on oil exports to Japan. The oil fields of Indonesia were among Japan’s first conquests after the Pearl Harbor attack. When the shipping lines from there to Japan were cut, both the Japanese naval and air forces were increasingly forced to attempt suicide attacks because they only had fuel for one-way sorties.

Germany’s drives for the oil fields of southern Russia and the Middle East failed, forcing Germany to rely on oil production from Romania and conversion of coal to liquid in order to fuel their army, navy and air force. The British military fought hard to maintain control of the Suez Canal because that was the main way they could get oil independent of America.

In contrast, it can easily be shown that the oil supplies of Russia, Britain and the United States were essential to the Allies’ ability to win the war, despite numerous military errors. P-51 Mustangs, Stormoviks and other Allied aircraft were able to wreck the Luftwaffe and destroy Japanese air defenses because they had the fuel to do it. T-34 and Sherman tanks were able to meet in Berlin for similar reasons.

Since World War 2, natural gas has become a much more important industrial fuel. The house in which I grew up, built shortly after that war, was heated by a coal furnace. That was common, at the time. While it is still legal to build a home with a coal-burning furnace, and you might even be able to find a local company delivering coal, it would be unusual, and the neighbors might well object. Coal-fired electrical power plants are being closed and replaced with gas-powered ones.

That brings us to today’s wars for gas. Methane, that is; natural gas (not gasoline, which is made from oil).

Russia has a lot of developed natural gas deposits. Pipelines from Russia supply a lot of natural gas to both Europe and Ukraine. Even with all the fighting in Ukraine, which has involved tanks and artillery, not just individuals armed with AK-47s, Russia has not yet cut off the flow of gas into pipelines traversing Ukraine on the way to Europe. If and when this happens, the situation gets more serious because Europe and Ukraine get more desperate.

It might be said that, since Afghanistan has little in the way of gas or oil resources, that’s one war that cannot be explained as being about these fossil fuels. When you look at the location of Afghanistan, that proves to be a pretty superficial way of thinking about it.

Afghanistan lies directly between major gas fields located in some of the other “-stan” countries (Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan, etc.) and Pakistan. While the eastern mountainous region of Afghanistan is no place to contemplate building a pipeline, the the flatter region to the west is geographically ideal for the purpose. For details, just start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline. This is one answer to the question, “Why have so many countries been fighting over Afghanistan for so long?”

And, as it turns out, it’s also an answer to a similar question about why the conflict between Israel and Palestine been so impossible to settle. I’m not going to try to explain this in detail, because I would not do nearly as good a job as Michael Schwartz did in his article – http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175961/.

This article is really worth reading, taking notes, checking out the details, discussing and making every effort to understand. The intractible conflict is not a result of a ‘flawed peace process’ or some inexplicable ‘political will of the peoples of ____.’ Nor is it a clash of religions, though it provokes a lot of clashes between followers of several religions. It is a result of the fact that Israel’s economy ‘needs’ the gas, and the gas is inconveniently located largely under Mediterranean water to which Israel does not have an undisputed claim.

Seriously, read the article linked just above, and the comments below the article, and any factual references you can think of. See if you can come to any other conclusion.

Meanwhile, there’s more than enough sunlight falling on Israel (inside the 1967 borders) to supply all the energy needs of the people living in Israel. The source is free. It can’t be used without developing a renewable energy industry, but that development is technically possible.

There’s also more than enough sunlight falling on the United States. We, too could become energy independent, so far as other nations are concerned. We don’t have to be dependent on the earth’s limited supply of fossil fuels. We don’t have to put up with all the bad biological, ecological and social effects of burning fossil fuels.

“Drill, drill, drill!” and similar panicky slogans supporting the old industrial system guarantee more destruction of the environment, followed by economic collapse when the remaining geological deposits become too scarce and expensive to continue using. It’s a path to guaranteed failure, with wars and other calamities along the way.

There are, to be sure, some negatives to developing clean energy sources and a sustainable society world-wide. It’s not a path of 100% sweetness, light and rose petals. But at least, unwinnable wars and collapse are not guaranteed.