Economy on the carpet Report #0-O-g

Are we damaged too?

A child is born with defects every 30 seconds in China.

China’s coal-rich Shanxi province had the highest rate.

Researchers also blamed nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulates.

“The rather alarming increase has forced us to kick off a high-level prevention plan”, said China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission.

What IS a high-level prevention plan?

California Baby Boy Born with 12 Fingers and Toes

What IS clean?


Ponder this graphic by Adam Nieman showing ALL the water and air on earth.

Total volume of air and water on Earth

The Christian Right

…seems surprising, if not misguided.

The general tenor of the religious argument seems to be that “secularists” want to overthrow Christianity’s rightful place at the center of American culture, outlaw religion, brainwash youth into believing there is no God, and accomplish all this by a denigration of the human spirit accomplished through the promotion of pornography, the devaluing of human life, and the acceptance of a plurality of cultures.

But isn’t it, rather, that the roles in this formulation are reversed?

Ultimately, it is fundamentalists professing humility while blithely ignoring the irony surrounding their claims to personal knowledge of the mind of God, who purportedly gives them access to the one and only Truth, who pose a significant threat to America’s promise of a pluralistic, egalitarian society.

What are these pernicious secular ideals which threaten the supposed “soul” of America? Quoting from The Affirmations of Humanism: a Statement of Principles—

  • We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
  • We are committed to the principle of separation of church and state.
  • We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
  • We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
  • We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
  • We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
  • We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

“Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” – Thomas Jefferson

Already we can’t go back

Dana’s blog: “I have never before, in my lifetime, had a President I could instinctively trust, and unequivocally support.”

Real political transformation consists of defining the center and causing everyone else to realign around that center.

unoffical President ObamaThat’s true transformation.

…President Obama is re-defining the political center, standing in it, and forcing the political planets to re-align around him. He has studied history, he knows how to play the part, and he still gets in his morning workout (so he will continue to look mahvelous).

Certainly the pace of change will slow eventually, but by the time it slows we will live in a different world, a transformed world, with different definitions of left and right, of fair and unfair political tactics, and of relationships between the governing and the governed.

I have never before, in my lifetime, had a President I could instinctively trust, and unequivocally support. I know that people on the left will constantly be prodding him to do more, and those on the right will have to spend much time in the wilderness before they can even respond.

But the political center of America has been redefined, in just 10 days. By leadership that understands history, uses technology, and knows how a consensus is built.

Welcome to the future.

Bush morphs to Obama. And... change.

Has anyone found the source of this morph from Bush to Obama?

Forty Percent World’s Wealth Gone

NowPublic: Forty Percent World's Wealth GoneNews Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch, in starting the World Economic Forum in Davos, revealed that the past five quarters had seen 40 per cent of the world’s wealth destroyed. … but it’s likely this statement is from Blackstone Group’s chairman Steve Schwarzman. [link]

Using Google’s Blog Search and News RSS tools, I easily set up feeds to search for upcoming discussion about “40 percent of the world’s wealth” in order to track reactions to this utterly historical statement.

As Google says, “Can I subscribe to search results?

Yes. At the bottom of each page of search results you can find several links, offering the top 10 or 100 results as either Atom or RSS feeds. Just grab the links from here and subscribe to them in the news aggregator of your choice and you will get updates whenever new posts are made that match your query.

As of today, blogSearch reports about 25 hits on losing nearly half the world’s wealth. There’s 35 hits on Google News.

Not enough! A day later, wouldn’t this be a lead story everywhere?

Schwarzman said an “almost incomprehensible” amount of cash had evaporated… Before the crash, folks discussed America’s dominant role, such as “7 percent of the world’s population consumes 40 percent of the world’s wealth” and “One percent of the world’s adults owns 40 percent of the world’s wealth, while the bottom half combined owns less than one percent”.

Oddly, the head of UK’s opposition party said, “Bankers should do charity work in poor communities to make amends for the credit crunch.” That’ll be the day. The Archbishop of York says, ““True charity repudiates the idea of personal gain as a result of lending money to make ruthless usury bringing about permanent disappropriation and enslavement.”

HA! Just goes to show what they know: Disappropriation stumps the dictionary.

We knew that!

Newcastle University found that farmers who named their cows gained a higher yield of milk.

Dr Catherine Douglas: “Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can, at no extra cost to the farmer, also significantly increase milk production.”

Happy cows produce more milk, All About FeedG’won wit ya?
It’s true!

A happier cow delivers more milk, and that’s about $300 a year, retail.

But filing birth certificates isn’t enough. Dairy farmer Dennis Gibb says that treating every cow as an individual was “vitally important”.

Pretending tomorrow

Written in May ‘o8, a nicely sour article, maybe to read later with a very good mood on hand. Or a jigger of scotch:

For a while in the 1990s, the idea was a “service economy,” kind of like the old fable of the town whose inhabitants made a living by taking in each other’s laundry — only in our case it was selling hamburgers to tourists on vacation from their jobs making hamburgers elsewhere, or something like that.

The Winking OwlThen came the idea of the “information economy” in which making things of value would no longer matter, only the processing and deployment of information (sometimes misidentified as “knowledge”). This model seemed to suggest a yin-yang of software engineers who made up games like “Grand Theft Auto” serving the opposite cohort of people who bought and played the game. If nothing else, it certainly explained how lifetimes could be frittered away on stupid activities.

That illusion yielded to the housing bubble economy, which actually did produce a lot of things, but not necessarily of value — for instance, houses made of particle board and vinyl 38 miles outside of Sacramento. It was a tragic and manifold waste of resources, as well as an insult to the landscape. But the darker side of the housing bubble lay in the world of finance, where a vast empire of swindles was constructed to support the Potemkin facade of production homebuilding.

Now we are in a strange period when those swindles are unwinding.

And more vinegar from Clusterfuck Nation by Jim Kunstler, author of ‘The Long Emergency’, nine novels and editor at Rolling Stone Magazine “I know it is difficult for Americans at every level to imagine a different way-of-life, but we’d better start tuning up our imaginations….”:

The standard of living in the US can’t be supported on debt anymore. The people of the US don’t produce enough real value to service their debts. Institutions can no longer be supported on debt gone bad. Something’s got to give — meaning something has to bring the US standard of living down to a level consistent with our declining actual wealth.

Nuthin’ to it then.

Maybe it will not be complicated, what’s ahead, and we will produce real value in a world more brittle than we’ve realized, and perhaps more tender.

Reminds me of a poem, The Transition Position

Large aged institutions seeking restitutions match gumptions, aim assumptions, challenge improvements, educate movements, calling sufficient not less than omniscient — a task recommended even if dead ended. Regardless conditions in mind or munitions, that’s preservation not creation; a consensus objective to soothe the subjective; assets sophisticated in actions distillated. Real value let me tell you, in all categories, is not in these stories.

What is the deductive that spurs the productive?…

Isn’t it proven that what keeps us movin’ is not intellectual, not dreams ineffectual, however analytical or grandly political? No! Freedom’s invincible if based on the principal that each can find motion from ocean to ocean, reaching and catching, dreaming and matching, in faith and with fearing, with sweat and engineering, with diligent facts in solvent pacts. If anyone will share it, let’s base it on merit. This is the trend to level the bend, to smooth the tension in cash flow and pension. To recover know how, compete and show how. …

Hurry up and acculturate

Whispering or Screaming? Context on the Internet

People tend to think that when they say something online, it’s more or less the same as they when say it offline. They don’t realize that online tools don’t care who they thought they were talking to. As casual communication moves online, we’re beginning to see problems arising from the difference between how online tools work and how people think they work. People are trying to whisper and don’t realize they’re shouting.

“The problem isn’t just that I’m stupid (but that’s a good guess), it’s the tool”, says Steven Wonder. “Using it, even using it properly, leads me to shout when I thought I was whispering.”

Context is an important part of what we say in the real world, but it’s largely absent from the internet. The next generation of internet tools should provide ways for writers to control the context in which they’re heard.

Tip from Unreasonable Man Ian Yorston

Where’s the hard part?

J’ai mis tes moccasins, walk a mile in my moccasins, my son is a Republican, he’s learned nothing all these years, I’m to blame, that’s the way it is, he’s always said empathy is difficult…

Microphone jockeys and pulpits and ideologues are against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 because ‘the people spend money better than the government’. “What?”, they say, “Do we want silver haired, gold in the teeth, lead in the ass bureaucrats deciding where God wants to spend his money?”

Believing in a mystic market policy – how dare this be called capitalism? – where corrupt tax relief and unfunded regulation and fanatic greed is as foolish as America has ever dared. We wait for the rich to gild the umbrella until it showers wages upon we poor souls awaiting for trickles to rain down. Republicans. Bah. Rush Lim-Bah.

There’s nothing but hand-to-hand monetary exchange in Obama’s stimulus. That’s getting up in the morning and that’s economic policy.

Let’s get rolling. There’s work to do.

  1. For Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways: $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;
  2. Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions: $1.5 billion for energy sustainability and efficiency grants and loans to help school districts, institutes of higher education, local governments, and municipal utilities implement projects that will make them more energy efficient.
  3. Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $6 billion for loans to help communities upgrade wastewater treatment systems. EPA estimates a $388 billion funding gap. The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators found that 26 states have $10 billion in approved water projects.
  4. Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $2 billion for loans for drinking water infrastructure. EPA estimates there is a $274 billion funding gap. The National Governors Association reported that there are $6 billion in ready-to-go projects, which could quickly be obligated.
  5. Rural Water and Waste Disposal: $1.5 billion to support $3.8 billion in grants and loans to help communities fund drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. In 2008, there were $2.4 billion in requests for water and waste loans and $990 million for water and waste grants went unfunded.
  6. Corps of Engineers: $4.5 billion for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure critical to the economy. The Corps has a construction backlog of $61 billion.
  7. Bureau of Reclamation: $500 million to provide clean, reliable drinking water to rural areas and to ensure adequate water supply to western localities impacted by drought. The Bureau has backlogs of more than $1 billion in rural water projects and water reuse and recycling projects.
  8. Watershed Infrastructure: $400 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service watershed improvement programs to design and build flood protection and water quality projects, repair aging dams, and purchase and restore conservation easements in river flood zones.
  9. International Boundary and Water Commission: $224 million to repair flood control systems along the international segment of the Rio Grande damaged by hurricane Katrina and other serious storms.

And that’s just a summary of water and environment activity – millions of us sweeping up the mess of the poor poor policies of the last 30 years. Neglect is not economic policy. Poor maintenance over the years has left cracks in our infrastructure as coddled brigands have pailed away the cash.

First international interview

Full transcript here, provided by the White House, of President Barack Obama’s interview with the Al-Arabiya television network.

The President: Well, I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away. And George Mitchell is somebody of enormous stature. He is one of the few people who have international experience brokering peace deals.

And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues — and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen.

He’s going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

…we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.

Without a warrant.

Wired blog, threat levelBush said only Americans in the United States who were talking with terrorists overseas would be targets of surveillance.

He lied.

Spying has been a dragnet of all communications, as if trying to “harpoon fish from an airplane.”

“The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications,” said Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst. “Faxes, phone calls and their computer communications. … They monitored all communications.”

For many reporters and news organizations every e-mail and phone conversation these reporters ever had with sources, editors and family members is captured: Without a warrant.

Model of Business

Hannity at Bunny RanchModel of Morality. The fellow in the center of this photo at Nevada’s Bunny Ranch brothel is moral crusader Sean Hannity. Link is here.

Sales for sex are falling and have been for years. Playboy is closing offices and laying off staff. Centered primarily in Southern California with sales of $12.6 billion, the adult entertainment business is not recession-proof.

Porn is tiresome for most and consumers are drifting. Since the economic crash, social-networking sites have garnered more traffic than porn sites.

But not the moral crusaders.

NYTimes: “…the Bunny Ranch visit was the last straw.”

Profile of authority

Philip Howard at WSJ thumbPhilip K. Howard at the Wall Street Journal writes we are too snarled in rules and laws and petty bullying.

Here we stand, facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, and Americans no longer feel free to do anything about it. We have lost the idea, at every level of social life, that people can grab hold of a problem and fix it. Defensiveness has swept across the country like a cold wave. We have become a culture of rule followers, trained to frame every solution in terms of existing law or possible legal risk. The person of responsibility is replaced by the person of caution. When in doubt, don’t.

The modern credo is not “Yes We Can” but “No You Can’t.”

Two-Thirds Gone

I’m looking for a link to a source.

California’s Lottery, sold to us to help fund education, merely provides 34 cents out of every $1 spent on a ticket to our schools.

Maybe lotteries are a legitimate social enterprise. Probably not.

A late friend, California Assemblyman Bill Filante, was roaring angry about state run lottery. Pilfering pockets is not a task of good government and contributes to tolerating bad government.