You can keep Christmas, I’ll celebrate the Yule!

2008/12/02

Many folks don’t realize this, but Christmas is a distorted echo of an ancient pagan, or witchcraft, celebration of the Winter Solstice.  The Yule, or YuleTide, was begun on or about December 25th, which is the first day that it is always possible, no matter which day the solstice falls upon, to measure the shortening of a shadow cast at noon.  The celebration lasted weeks, or even months, as the primitive people of Western Europe gathered together to face their greatest enemy, the winter.  The evergreen tree was a symbol of Life carrying on through the Death of winter.  Candles were symbols of the Sun, which made life possible.

In a time when nothing was taken for granted, and gods peopled the heavens and earth, the idea that the Sun could just keep going South was not uncommon.  To believe that the world could end up in eternal night gave great cause for celebration when it was determined that the Sun was coming back.  Because people had lots of spare time during the months of Autumn, they could make handycrafts, which they shared with each other when they gathered for YuleTide.  An animal would be slaughtered, the thinning of the stock to ensure that some survived the winter, and a feast would be held.

Thus, the traditions of the Yule have been passed down, but the celebration has been distorted by Greed.  In order to get people out shopping, buying the things that they can no longer make, decorations go up early, special occasions are held, and people are encouraged to spend money on their loved ones.  A countdown to the day is held, and the anticipation builds, aided by commercials.  When the day finally arrives, it is a let down.  Soon, people are unhappy with the whole thing, and decide to take down the festive lights.

Killing a tree every year was never part of the Yule celebration, only decorating one outdoors.  For one thing, there was no room in the huts that families shared for a tree, and the idea of killing an evergreen at that time of year was like heresy.  Gift giving was not a given, (ha ha) but no one was expecting anything.  An article that someone has worked on for hours has that persons energy in it, and it has power emotionally.  Simply handing out gifts would have diminished the impact that gifts had, I believe.

because the celebration of the Yule was so deeply ingrained in the native population of Western Europe, the Christian church gave up trying to stop the celebration, and incorporated it into the Christian calander.  Because the populous believed that the Sun was reborn at the solstice, the church held that the Son was born at that time.  (This in spite of it being generally believed by scholars at the time that Christ was born during the Spring or Summer.)  The emphasis was placed on the religious meaning of the Christian celebration, and the Yule was not mentioned.

To me, Christmas has come to represent the worst of American culture, with Greed being the major offender, followed by Materialism.  People have been lead to believe that the celebration goes on before the fact, not after, so that they will buy more.  I embrace the Yule, because it does not have the materialistic trappings, and it spans the time when it is first noticeable that the days are getting longer.  That is the promise of another Spring, and Life returning.  That, to me, is the Reason For The Season.

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Saving a little money

2008/11/23

Now that folks are starting to realize that it is not just them, we are all broke, maybe we can start changing some wasteful practices.  Such as paying one set of people to take care of our elders, and another set of people to take care of our children.  Both functions were part of the family experience up until about 60 years ago, the elders taking care of the children, teaching them culture, history, manners, and social skills, until the children were old enough to start taking care of the elders, when they became infirm.  Today, we seperate these two groups, so that many young children never get to know really old people, and our elders pining their days away wishing that they could spend time with children,  Any children.

Many of the people who have been placed in assisted living or nursing facilities are alert, active, and interested in what is going on around them, they simply are in need of care which family members can’t, or won’t, provide.  They are capable of spending an hour or two a few days a week helping to watch over a group of children.  Not by themselves, of course, but with the assistance of young, able bodied people.  And not in the common room of the facility catering to the elders, but in a special, home-like setting, perhaps not even on the same grounds.  Elders could be compensated for their time, and the proceeds used to help defray the cost of their care.

Somehow, a way should be found to utilize the free time, culutural knowledge, and historical background of our elders in socializing our youth.  Very young children love to please elderly people, and elderly people love to spend time with very young children.  When these two populations are allowed to interact, the results are often far more positive than when either interacts with any other age group.  It is a waste to keep them segregated.

I’m so confused!

2008/11/23

Here in the United States, we use a celebration of Death to kick of the celebration of Life.  What am I talking about?  Thanksgiving and the Christmas Shopping Season.  Although Thanksgiving is dedicated to the Pilgrams landing at Plymouth Rock, it is really a harvest celebration, just a little late in the year.  (I for one never believed that people ate outside at Thanksgiving ever! Especially in Massachuesetts.)  The roast beast, the trimmings, the goodies, the pies, the whole production is a celebration of the bounty of the land, and the sacrifice made so that Life can go on.  Everything on the table will be dead, and that is what the celebration is all about.  We give thanks to that which has died so that we can continue.

Unless you live in some place without electricity, you will probably notice that the sky glows at night a lot more than usual in the days after Thanksgiving.  Some people already are burning their Christmas, or Yule, lights, and the day after Thanksgiving in the ‘official’ kick off of the Christmas Shopping Season.  The Yule Tide was a celebration of Life, of re-birth, of renewal.  It started a few days after the Winter Solstice, and ran for days or weeks into January.  (What else is January good for, except partying?)

Because merchants want us to buy our gifts, instead of making them ourselves, as was done in the old days, they sponser concerts, public events, lighting displays, and anything eles that they can think of to get people out shopping.  Gradually, the Christmas season has swung around from the weeks after the Winter Solstice to the weeks before the Winter Solstice.  Inadvertantly, we have moved a festival of Life into a time when the LifeForce is ebbing from the land, leaving nothing for when the days begin to get longer.

To make things even more unsettling, late autumn has always been a time when people tried to conserve their resources as much as possible, by staying close to home, eating very little, and sleeping a lot.  For thousands and thousands of years, what food we had would have to last until Spring, at the earliest.  So, getting out and being extra active in late autumn just feels wrong somehow.

We must remember our instinctual heritage, what cultures practiced before written history, when analyzing our motivations and emotional responses to modern societie’s demands.  There are ample reasons for feeling confused and out of sorts in the weeks ahead, and some we don’t even acknowledge.

Have a wonderful Harvest Festival!

Games people play

2008/11/18

Want something new and different to do during the downtime at work, or when you are sitting around wishing that there was something worth watching on TV?  Try the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual Game!  Over 70,000 people have signed up to run a virtual sailboat in this ’round the world’ race, which follows the same course as the real Volvo Open 70 boats.  You don’t have to be a sailor, or even know anything about sailing, just be interested in participating in an online game.

http://www.volvooceanracegame.org/play.php  is the URL that will get you to the sign up page.

For those of you who are into sailing, the new 24 hour record for a monohull boat was set during leg 1, at 602 miles.  That is by a sailboat, folks, not a power boat.  Maintaining an average of about 25 knots, or 30 miles per hour, for 24 hours is quite a feat.  This is the Formula One of sailing, with boats built entirely of carbon, huge sails, and a special ‘canting keel’ which allows the boats to go upwind.  This is not NASCAR, with things going around and around, this is not football, with people hitting each other,  this is not any sport you have ever seen.  People have died during these races, and boats have been lost.

In an age when burning gasoline is becoming less than politically correct, sailing is a clean, green sport.

What is ‘normal’ for markets?

2008/11/11

Over and over again, in reading about the financial/economic crisis, I come across the expression “when markets return to normal,” Do people really believe that we are going to go back to the dividend-driven, supposedly risk-free, immediate return seeking ways of the last few years? Doesn’t anyone realize that the wealth that was supposedly created in those years never really existed, it was just an illusion to allow a few people to benefit hugely at the majority’s expense? We artificially inflated our net worth, by bidding up the prices of everything, and paying ourselves huge bonuses for being alive. The money that was zooming around, being loaned out again and again, was a fantasy, with nothing to back it up. Just because someone claims that something is worth a certain amount does not make it so, no matter how hard we wish.

So we had better start adjusting to a new reality, one where wealth is again hard to come by, and is only created by work, not by manipulating numbers. We must accept that we cannot live off of our investments alone, because they are not going to provide the steady stream of money that so many have become addicted to. Stock dividends are going to become extremely rare, because the companies will be too hard pressed to come up with cash. Credit default swaps are not going to prevent risk, because too much has been invested under the false belief that it cannot be lost. The government cannot hand out trillions of dollars to keep investors from losing when the slowing of the economy stops the payment of debt.

The entire premise that being owed money increases one’s worth will have to be jettisoned, because too many accounts receivable are not going to be collected. A bank holding company may claim that it worth large sums of money because of all the debt that it holds, but how much of that debt will be converted into cash cannot be known in advance. Those companies that do not re-invest their profits into reducing debt and improving efficiency will not see their stock increase in value, unlike in the past. We have gotten used to believing that we were wealthy because we could easily borrow money. We never were wealthy, and we sure aren’t now.

Better than term limits!

2008/10/27

Do you ever get a little miffed that the person that is supposed to be serving you in some public office is instead spending their time campaigning for re-election, or, even worse, another office?  Both of the current candidates for president hold the office of U.S. senator, which should be their primary focus, in my opinion.  How has their candidacy affected their votes on the Senate floor?  If elected, would either person put the needs of the country ahead of their re-election?  Would either person be willing to take unpopular action, knowing that it would probably eliminate their chance for a second term?

How often have you heard that passage of critical legislation is unlikely during an ‘election year’?  If a person has choosen to make their career in politics, won’t they consider keeping their job the most important goal?  Many people have become disgruntled with the advantage than an incumbant has over a challenger, and various attempts at limiting the number of terms that can be served in a given office have been put forward.  Most have failed, because there is no agreement on the limits.

When this country was founded, getting people to serve in public office was a huge problem.  Often, it meant being away from one’s farm or business for months at a time, which could lead to financial ruin.  Now, we have legislators who have been in office for decades, who have hardly spent any time in the areas that they represent, who have developed close relationships with lobbyists.

I say, force people to step down when their term of office expires, and don’t allow anyone holding elected office, even if it is at the local level, to run for another office.  I am sick of mayors running for state representative, or county commisioners campaigning for state senate office.  I don’t want to see any more governers using their office as a stepping stone to higher office, because they have been elected to do a job.  When an office holder is campaigning for re-election, or election to another office, how focused are they on their job?  How likely are they to do what is right, even if it means displeasing the public initially?

No term limits, for any office.  But no incumbancy, either.  You serve your term, then you are out.  You can run as many times as you want, but, if elected, you have to step down when your term is up.  This is the only truly fair way to insure that we get proper representation in our government, as well as the only way that I can think of that important decisions will be made with the interests of the country in the forefront.  The term ‘career politician’ offends me, because a career politician is someone who has made staying in office their primary goal, not serving their country.

Future shocking?

2008/10/26

It amazes me that we are not hearing any straight talk about what lies ahead, as if things could somehow go on as they have before. Even though I have only a small education in economics, it seems obvious to me that the United States is going to have a huge amount of debt to pay off. This can only be done by working together to create things of lasting value which can be used by large numbers of people. Infrastructure. Trade cannot pay off debt, because nothing of lasting value is created in trade.

Consumer spending is based almost entirely upon trade, so consumer spending will have to decline. But how could consumer spending continue at previous levels if people are all broke? Something is going to have to replace consumer spending as the engine of the economy, and it will have to be big. Instead of building roads, though, maybe we should consider some new kinds of infrastructure. Like fiber optic cables to every home, and a combination data terminal/videophone in every house. A national high speed rail network. Upgrade the electric grid, and run transmission lines to areas where wind is plentiful. Insulate every structure in the nation. Not just spending money, but actually increasing our efficiency as a nation.

Demand for resources can easily outstrip supply if developing countries begin large-scale consumption. The resulting supply-side shocks cripple the economy, pushing up inflation at the same time that wages become stagnant. Greed overwhelms the markets, and a herd mentality emerges, where any profitable strategy is immediately copied, over and over again. One sub-prime mortgage is not a problem. Several million of them are. So markets will have to be guided into spending a portion of their capital on long-term projects, which will dampen the volatility in the short term, while providing guidance for investors as to where long-term growth will be.

Our future economic expansion must be based in increasing our net worth, not financial manipulations of value. Paying for this increase will mean working longer hours, so that the tax burden is spread over more earnings. The payment of cash dividends has got to be discouraged, so that corporations can invest their earnings into new means of production, training, and research. Military spending has got to be reduced, as that is money that disappears from our economy after one pass through it. Spending on space exploration needs to be increased, because it generates new wealth at a rate nearly unequaled, while engaging the high-tech military-industrial complex.

Saving has got to be encouraged, so that the government will have access to money to use for these programs. Payroll accepted in the form of U.S. savings bonds should be tax free, and the payroll value calculated in immediate redemption value, not the face value at maturity. Interest on savings accounts should be tax free. We are going to have to stop relying on foreign countries to carry our debt, because we are making our money worthless. Only by working together, and sharing the sacrifices, can we have any hope of coming out of this economic meltdown.

Hey, buddy, can you spare a billion?

2008/10/23

A landlord once told me that he was worried where he was going to get his next 1,000 dollars, which kind of put my problems in perspective.  For many major companies right now, figuring out where they are going to get their next billion dollars is a major concern.  America has become addicted to easy credit, from the Federal government down to the folks next door.  The term ‘bridge loan’ has nothing to do with bridges, but instead is an industry term for short-term financing to get through until expected funds become available.  It is kind of like a payday loan, but at much lower interest rates.

The state of California was used to getting bridge loans, a few billion to tide it over until tax revenues start coming in next spring.  Many companies borrow for a day, a week, or a month, at low interest, to cover payroll, for instance.  But it wasn’t always like this, which is why things are so messed up right now.  It used to be, companies kept cash in bank accounts to cover any conceivable expense, because credit was hard to get, even for multi-million dollar organizations.  States would borrow money, but only through bond sales, which were usually long-term instruments, often 20 years.  They had to keep their accounts in the black to cover day-to-day expenses.

Homeowners had savings accounts that often represented a year or more worth of income, to protect against a water heater going bad, or having to buy a new car, or somebody getting really sick.  The only way to get the equity out of a house was to sell it.  But most people had enough in the bank to see them through, so they didn’t need to borrow against what they had paid on their home.  Then, something changed, something which was a fundamental shift in thinking.

When people had spent all of their extra cash, they quit buying stuff that they really didn’t need.  This seems logical enough, but it meant that consumer spending began to decline, which hurt the profits of many big corporations.  In order to keep people buying stuff, an new idea surfaced.  Easy credit.  The credit card.  A homeowner was a sure bet, because their house would be their collateral for their debt.  Enter Monster Card, and its brethren.  In an amazingly short period of time, the United States went from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation, as easy credit spread from homeowners to big corporations to states.

Borrowing money used to be looked down upon, because good people paid cash.  Little by little, that stigma was erased, and replaced with a belief that we deserved what we wanted, right away.  Instant gratification became the standard operating procedure of not just teenagers, but adults, executives, and elected officials.  Of course, lending out money is a profitable enterprise, so everybody jumped on the bandwagon.  And, an obscure rule of accounting made it even easier.  If someone owes you money, it increases your net worth.  Accounts receivable are counted as an asset on a balance sheet.

The more money that is owed you, the wealthier you are, irregardless of the ability of the debtors to pay you back.  On paper, you can be worth millions, even billions, but not have two dimes to rub together.  Say, buddy, can you spare a billion?  I’m a little short right now.

Words for the season

2008/10/22

HARVEST KING

AND

THE FESTIVAL OF AUTUMN

I am the Harvest King.
My colors are brown and yellow, orange and black.
I am the bounty of the land.
The death which brings life.
I am Change, and Sacrifice for the Future.
I am that which makes space for new life.
I will come for you.

In Death, we celebrate new beginnings,
As we cherish that which has passed on.
The Harvest King reminds us of the sacred nature of life,
And drives us together,
So that we may face the coming Winter.
The Life Force withdraws from the land,
And we gather to draw strength from each other,
And the memories of those who have gone before us.

We celebrate the Life Force which has died,
Cherishing the sacrifice made for the living.
We glimpse the full cycle of the wheel,
Life emerging from the residue of Death,
Growing, creating more Life, sharing in the harvests,
And then, joining the slumbering pool of Life,
Waiting to be reborn.

Scott P. Holman

No more IOU’s, just cash from now on.

2008/10/17

It cracks me up to hear the presidential candidates saying that they won’t raise taxes.  We are so deep in debt right now that we are probably going to see a longer work week sometime soon, just so that we can have something to take home after taxes.  Bailing out the greedy and the lazy will push us much deeper into the red than anyone thought possible just a few months ago.

What happened to the American work ethic?  When did it become disrespectful to work?  A great deal of the economic woe that we are facing now is because so many Americans were trying to get wealthy without having to work.  Not to mention the impact that having to pay a cash dividend every year has had on our industries.  Even when business is horrible, big companies have continued to hand out hundreds of millions, even billions, in cash to people who own their stock.

It used to be that buying stock was considered an investment in the future, because the payoff would take a few years, as the company gradually grew.  Somewhere along the line, somebody realized that they could sell a lot more stock if they promised to pay the people who bought that stock a cash payment every year, just for owning the stock.  In today’s world, large sums of cash can be hard to come by, resulting in companies having to get loans to pay the stockholders their dividends.

Even when that doesn’t happen, the profits that the company make are not being reinvested in the company, they are going to the shareholders.  Instead of developing new products, and more efficient methods of producing existing ones, companies are ‘outsourcing’ much, if not all, of their production.  This looks great on the balance sheet, but in the long term, it is suicide.  Who is going to buy the products that the company makes if everyone is out of work?

Everyone is getting all hot and bothered about the completely unrealistic levels of compensation that many executives have been getting, but all of their salaries and bonuses together would hardly be a drop in the bucket compared to the billions and billions that are paid out in dividends every year.  Those dividends are the future of our nation, the ability to grow, to innovate, to improve.  We are throwing those things away so that a bunch of lazy idiots can sit around doing nothing.

If the work week ends up being 50, or even 60, hours, than I think we should make it illegal to pay stockholders in cash any kind of dividend.  Make their shares worth more, so that all of us will be worth more.  The growth that we thought we were enjoying has turned out to be an illusion, a bubble that all of us helped to create.  Wealth is once again going to be measured by tangible things, not pieces of paper.

No matter how much the government gives the banks, the banks are not about to start loaning money out, because the bankers know that we are all broke, and they don’t want to lose any more of the so-called value that they are responsible for.  Because they will have to pay their shareholders with cash, not IOU’s.

Sailing around the world

2008/10/02

In a couple of days, on October 4th, the 2008-2009 running of the Volvo Ocean Race Round The World begins.  This is ‘life at the extreme’, sailing around the world in the most advanced yachts in there are.  People have died during this race, and boats have been lost.  The race covers much of the globe, from Spain to South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the United States, and back to Europe for the finish.  From dodging iceburgs in the Southern Ocean to standing watch in shorts, the crews experience a wide range of weather.  In-port races provide action up close, while videos are recorded and transmitted from the boats during the 5and 6,000 mile long open ocean legs.

The race began as the the Whitbread, in 1974, the result of a challenge thrown down in an English pub.  Run every 4 years until now, the race is considered the Himilayas of sailing.  The boats are now built specifically for the race, at a cost of millions of dollars.  They are constructed almost entirely of carbon, using techniques developed in the aviation industry.  In order to allow sailing even faster, they have keels which can be moved from side to side.  The last race saw 25 whole days subtracted from the previous record, with boat speeds of 25 to 30 knots being common.  One boat covered 562 miles in a 24 hour period, setting a mark which still stands.

You don’t have to be into sailing to get excited about this race, because it is flat out, balls-to-the-wall action from start to finish, apart from the occasional windless days.  The crews come from all over the world, and are the best of the best at what they do.  This race is about using a knowledge of Nature, advanced technology, and the power of the human spirit to challenge the deep blue sea.  Check it out at http://www.volvorace.com.  They even have a web TV site, with highlights of past races.  I think that it is a lot better than watching cars burn up gas.

Units. Of measure

2017/11/15

Meters and liters, inches and feet.  Ounces, quarts, gallons.  Kilometers per second.  Light second, light minute, light hour, light year.  Terabyte, barrel, kilowatt, hands, stone, the things we measure have changed along with the way we measure things.  Learning the metric system is only a start, because our immediate neighborhood is only a few light hours across.

Mars averages about 12 light minutes from Earth, while the Earth is only about 8 light minutes from the Sun.  Light travels about 300,000 kilometers per second, so, unlike the Sun, Mars can be anywhere from 3 something light minutes away to about 22 light minutes.  Sometimes, a radio beep would take nearly an hour to go to Jupiter.

On Earth, everything is only a fraction of a light second away, but even the Moon is nearly a light second away.  To get into space, we have to get going about 7 kilometers per second, after we get above most of the atmosphere.  Space is only a about 100 kilometers from wherever you are right now, but the atmosphere gets very thin only a few kilometers up.  And space is big.  Really, really big.

A clean race

2017/10/26

The latest edition of the Volvo Ocean Race has just begun, with 7 teams competing in this round-the-world spectacular.  One of the themes of this iteration is fighting the pollution caused by plastic.  The oceans are becoming seas of plastic, from fishing nets to microbeads, and the plastic is getting into the food chain.

One of the biggest offenders is the single-use water bottle, a now common item in many households.  All plastics degrade into tiny pellets, which stay in the environment for a long time, decades in some cases.  Although plastic can be re-used in making some products, the majority is simply discarded, ending up in landfills and the ocean.

Fish ingest plastic in the form of microbeads, which become lodged in their tissues.  Often, the fish are eaten by other fish, further up the food chain.  Humans are at the top of the food chain, so the things that creatures down the food chain consume can end up in our bodies.  The huge increase in the numbers of single-use water bottles portends ever-increasing amounts of plastic getting into our bodies.  The sailors of the Volvo Ocean Race encounter plastic in every ocean, all over the world.

Department of Redundancy Department

2017/10/08

Saying the same thing over and over again is something I try to avoid, so sometimes I don’t write very much.  But I will revisit certain themes, such as Greed, which is on my mind constantly these days.  The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower in London, a horrific fire which killed dozens of people, brought this to mind, as I was researching the death toll as of several months following the fire.  The police are having to sift through about 15 tons of material on each floor of the 24 story building, looking for human remains, which might be fragments of bone.

Then the puzzle of trying to determine if the remains are part of a body which remains have already been found, or if this is a new individual.  So far, the death toll has not gone up, and some are saying that it might be somewhat less than the ‘about 80’ figure given out shortly after the disaster.  So far, 69 victims have been identified, and 13 remain unaccounted for and missing.  But there were quite possibly people in the building who were not listed as missing, and don’t show up on the tenants lists.

Greed is the reason that those people died, the intentional disregard of safety for the sake of profit.  Added to the insult of the deadly cladding being installed just a year ago is the fact that only one stairwell was usable at the time of the fire, as well as the lack of any central fire alarm.  Greed is destroying people through stress, depression, and insanity.  There is nothing wrong with working, especially when what you do contributes to the well-being of others.

If we insist on trying to live on profits from investments, we suck the energy out of the venture, when reinvestment, better staffing, or paying retirement costs are vitally needed.  Contributing more than just money to something makes that project much more likely to succeed. I am starting to repeat myself, so I will stop.

Getting less for doing more

2017/09/24

Talking with a friend of mine who works in retail I can hear the frustration and anger boiling out of him.  He is being asked to do more than ever before, and he is receiving less and less for doing it.  He loves working with people, selling stuff, but he hates dealing with the corporate demands and managers who don’t know what they are doing.  His store used to have several more workers, but vacancies have not been filled.  His compensation for enduring these problems is shrinking in value, even though the amount is larger.

All of this is so that the shareholders can receive a larger income from doing nothing.  The corporate people don’t want him taking the time to listen to his customers, to find out what they need so that he can help them find it.  He is supposed to sell them the biggest, bestest, most expensive thing he can, regardless of whether they need it.  Making the customer happy is no longer important, only making the shareholders happy is.

Is this wealth real?

2017/09/02

Supposedly, vast amounts of wealth are being created in the world today.  Trillions of dollars are tied up in various markets, chasing other dollars in the search for more wealth.  But most of this wealth is just numbers in computers, not new bridges, roads, houses, or factories.  If a market takes a downturn, huge amounts of wealth suddenly disappear.  And this wealth does not trickle down to the average person, in the form of increased compensation for work, or better health care, or improved retirement benefits.

Money is a way of representing work, or value.  Practically all value requires work, as very few things are valuable without some sort of investment of labor.  In theory, if a worker is more productive, they should earn better pay.  In reality, that has not been happening since the 1970’s.  Increasingly, money has lost the connection to work, becoming easy to create without putting time or energy into something.  Some people are able to survive without working, because their money is ‘working’ for them.  In most cases, the money they are ‘making’ is the money that should be going to the people who are actually creating the new wealth.

When too much profit is taken out of an operation or a business, the whole thing will collapse, because not enough is being put back in.  Resources become unavailable, workers stop being productive, equipment breaks down.  This is what is happening today, as large amounts of profit are being taken out of practically every operation.  Raising the minimum wage does not mean that the workers will receive a larger portion of the wealth that they create, because their percentage of the profits does not change.  The creation of real wealth benefits everyone.  What we are making today does not.

The end times are near!

2017/08/24

Just recently, news has been released that Walmart and Google are going to team up against Amazon.com.  Thus, the End of Days approaches.   Seriously, doesn’t Google have better taste than to team up with Walmart? This news came out the day after a solar eclipse that was visible all across the United Sates.  A day when people would drive hundreds of miles (I did) to see the Earth’s moon pass in front of the Sun, completely blocking the Sun’s radiation.

The place where I went to watch the eclipse was deep in the back country, where there is no Google, no Walmart, no Amazon.com, no power even, unless you generate it yourself.  A place where you make money by earning it, not by manipulating numbers, but by doing real work, creating real wealth.

One of the images that was burned into my mind was the hundreds of cars that were pulled off of the road, here and there, with people sitting inside.  They had nothing in common to talk about until the eclipse began.  That would get them out of their cars and talking to each other.  Of course, many would be so busy trying to record the event that they would to be unable to experience the event.

We need each other

2017/08/11

Thinking about socialism, and socialist countries got me to consider the countries in the far North, like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Canada.  These are places where people have to count on each other for survival, and work together to get through winters.  In more temperate climates, people exist without having to share, and can get by without being checked up on by a neighbor.  Going off the road in a car does not mean danger of freezing to death in most of the U.S.

The less we feel part of a community, the less we will sacrifice for that community.  As we become more wealthy, we are reluctant to share that wealth with those we do not consider part of our group.  We have got to realize that we are in this together, and that we will need each other at some point in the future if we want to pass anything on to  generations to come.

The contribution that we make may be small, perhaps only a moment out of a lifetime, but that moment will be a critical one for everyone.  We all have worth, and we need to be reminded of that, frequently.

Darkness and light pollution

2017/07/25

Many people are afraid of the dark, and lots of light is considered a crime deterrent.  But lots of light also masks the night sky, taking away part of our heritage, the stars and planets making their way through our sky.  Light pollution is so severe in some places that the only objects visible at night are the moon and, occasionally, Venus, the brightest of the planets.

Some people don’t like to see the stars, because doing so makes them think about where they are, and infinity, and they freak out.  Of course, some people don’t even need the night sky to freak out; a friend told me one time that she didn’t like clear, or fair days, because she was afraid that she would float away.  She didn’t feel that way when it was cloudy, though.

Sometimes, I wish that there would be a massive power failure in my area, so that I, and everyone else in the area, could see what night was like without a lot of artificial light.  As it is, I am fortunate to live in a lightly populated area, with very low population density.  But it is still hard to see the Milky Way anymore, that river of stars stretching across the sky.

Moonlight stroll in the quiet

2017/07/10

Just returned from a brief walk in the light of a full moon, enjoying the quiet of early Monday, when most people are asleep.  Sometimes, I believe that I can sense the moods of others, and nighttime is the most stress-free time, it seems.  There is a belief, which I subscribe to, that the moods and thoughts of others can influence our own thinking.  Not drastically, or overpowering in intensity, but discernible.

Looking at the moon made me think of an animation made up of images taken from a space satellite which is between the Earth and the Sun.  The animation   shows the Moon crossing the face of the Earth, and you can see the far side of the Moon.  How would our minds be affected if we were that far away from the rest of humanity for a period of at least a month?  Is the Moon close enough that there would be no difference?  Will we ever find out?  I hope so.

The Better Wealth Care Act

2017/06/25

The Republicans in the Senate are scrambling to pass a bill gutting the health care system in the United States before anyone can examine it.  The bill was drafted in secret, without input from doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, or those who it will affect.  The primary purpose of this bill is to allow taxes on the very wealthy to be reduced.  Those taxes have supported the expansion in Medicaid which has allowed millions of people access to health care for the first time in their lives.  (I don’t consider emergency room visits to be ‘access to health care’.)

What the Republicans are basically saying is “we don’t care about you, you little grub.”  They don’t feel a part of the community, because their wealth allows them to survive outside of the community.   Our society is under attack by people who are afraid of society, of community, of sharing the surplus.  They don’t view the average person as a person, but as bunch of numbers; productivity, age, pay rate, etc.  People are a resource to be mined, exploited, used up and thrown away.

The supporters of this bill are not concerned with health care, they only want wealth care.  More tax breaks to the people who would never be able to spend all what they have.