Category Archives: environment

Davos 2012: You’ve Been Warned

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It looks like Davos 2012 – a massive meeting of the world’s ‘official’ leaders – will test the waters with reforms of ‘outdated’ capitalism.

Is this an admission of the failure of the world’s economic intellectual ‘powerhouses’ to develop a real and functional economic system that doesn’t pit man against man, man against nature, and so on?

Pundit George Soros has already called it and you can now consider yourself warned:

  • As he sees it, the world faces one of the most dangerous periods of modern history—a period of “evil.”
  • In America he predicts riots on the streets that will lead to a brutal clampdown that will dramatically curtail civil liberties.
  • The global economic system could even collapse altogether.
  • We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression.

Socialism, then?

Fascism, more likely.

Zero Growth

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This Alternet article explores the concept of ‘zero growth’.

What is zero growth?

I would argue that zero growth is a reflection of true, basic capitalist economics where money isn’t being printed and competition exists between suppliers, ensuring that average increase for prices, wages and other inputs grow at exactly zero percent.

It’s certainly better than collapse!

Read and please feel free to discuss.

You Can’t Nationalize Carbon Costs

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Whether you’re in the carbon credit market or the car or you’re simply looking for ways to generate revenue, it’s not a good idea to think of a carbon tax as a solution, even though some Canadians think it might be the only way to go.

Why?

It’s morally absurd to nationalize (or localize) carbon costs when the local government might be hosting the producers of carbon, but they’re not reaping all of the benefits.

Allow me to explain …

Say you’re a big country with a whole pile of natural resources.  Let’s remind everyone that very few of these natural resources are actually currently owned by the people of that country.

And let’s say that in order to produce, export and consume those products, people already pay an excise tax that is designed to simply extract cash from the pockets of those people to pay for things that they may or may not want, like crappy jets and useless prisons.

And let’s finally agree that the corporations that extract these resources are already getting a free ride because they pay a minimal amount of royalties, all of which are deductible against absurdly low corporate income taxes, most of which are negative because of the vast array of ridiculous writeoffs that we create for these welfare slobs.

And now … we introduce a carbon tax on the people that might use the carbon-based products that non-Canadian companies overcharge us for.

What an insult.

It’s time we got the formula straight.

I will pay carbon taxes when I know that the companies like Shell, BP and Exxon pay a flat tax to the people of Canada for the privilege of extracting our resources.

Until then, adding another tax to Canadian citizens is just another insult to our pocket books and will do nothing – I repeat nothing – to solve the environmental tragedy known as the Tar Sands.

Feeding Our Cars

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You know we’re at a crossroads in our future when more is spent to feed our cars than the people on this planet.

The Gazette shares this update recently and discloses that more corn is now used to create ethanol than to feed livestock.

Now, this might be because more livestock is being grass-fed (ie. naturally) as opposed to being stuffed with a product that they aren’t naturally supposed to eat, but the more realistic prospect is that we’ve pushed demand for hybrid fuels to stupid levels because of bad planning and design on behalf of our auto manufacturers.

This is the first time since the dawn of the use of domesticated animals that we’ve allowed this change to happen.

Which brings me back to a term that I created a while ago:  euthanol.  Definition:  the generation of a product that effectively starves most of the planet for the benefit of a select few.

New Market Models

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We desparately need a discussion about new market models that will actually work in the wake of the post-20th century debt crisis.

Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and now maybe even the US all teeter on the brink of economic ruin in the wake of debt piled on debt piled on debt.

When defaults are finally declared, the resulting cost spiral will inflate the price of everything from shoes to corn to electricity to books to wheels for your car.  The shock may be moderate at first, but eventually we’ll all have fewer dollars in our pockets just as we try to survive.

Most of this debt has been accumulated for one thing:  the security state.

The security state consists of several expenditures:

  • to finance the act of unnecessary wars;
  • to fund the monitoring and control of all people with baseless crimes so that fees and levies can be imposed at a whim; and to
  • to punish and incarcerate citizens when these most basic crimes exceed a even more basic level of tolerance according to our dictators.

In Canada, we’re spending anywhere from $50 to $100 billion PER YEAR on the security state and military infrastructure, and yet we’re officially only fighting in one ‘war’ (Afghanistan).  Why are we wasting so much money – OUR taxpayer dollars – on something that’s so incredibly unproductive?

Iceland seems to have gone in the right direction by telling bankers and the IMF to go F*** themselves.

Ultimately, we need a new approach to new market models.

Eric Blair of alt-market.com interviews Brandon Smith in this piece on Alternative Markets at Activist Post where he shares some of these ideas. The basic definition of an alternative market:

… it is essentially any method of trade outside the establishment-controlled economy. It could be based on the barter of goods and skills, or the proliferation of precious metals to break our dependence on the fiat dollar (or Federal Reserve Note), etc. It could be a network of people across a county or state, or, an agreement between two friends.

And some thoughts about why alternative markets are labeled as underground or black markets around the world:

They are desperate, and I do mean DESPERATE, to keep us from developing our own private economies. If we are successful, we will no longer be in the position of dependency on the dollar or the sham economy. When it implodes, we will be relatively unfazed, and certainly not tearing each other apart. Meaning, their rationalization for martial law goes straight down the drain. The thought of that possibility really pisses them off…

But would alternative markets be enough when our governments are out of control, paying their friends and military buddies off with our money?

Probably not.  So we will also need a Declaration of Debt Independence.  It’s a basic concept that’s about to catch on like wild fire as everyone who’s not in control feels the effects of ‘austerity measures’:  you write into your Constitution (assuming you have one) that the government is not allowed to issue debt exceeding a certain percentage of your GDP (which should be redefined to capture the cost of environmental degradation and other borrowing from future generations), but to also identify that no government would ever be allowed to spend more than 3 or 5% of their GDP on defense, security and military spending (I would also suggest that this include prisons and other forms of incarceration).

At no point should any citizen’s government be borrowing money from bankers when they should be living within their means.  We should be investing in services for our children, not borrowing from their future in a failing effort to cork our insatiable desire for crap.

Public budgets should be for public good:  education, health, parks, trees, the environment, investment in the future, regulation and a sturdy and reliable justice system.

Another alternative market model would be extremely feasible if we owned the Internet, but we’re at risk of losing that too under the guise of security, protection from make-believe hackers and terrorists and porn sharks and other freaks that apparently lurk on every digital corner.  At some point in the future, we should expect the ‘Wild Internet of the West’ to be shut down in favour of a controlled Internet that’s no more illuminating and accessible than TV is today.

This would take a lot of work but more importantly, money.  I’ve been advocating some form of fund-raising effort for some time and would still be at the front of the line if someone were to say they were ready as well.

I can’t do it alone.

If we move on any of the above – and we really have to – hard times will be on their way, but we must stop living beyond our means and we have to shake off the bonds that are being placed our basic rights to communicate, participate and emancipate our day-to-day lives.

So … who’s on board?


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