Climate Change and Blog Action Day

[Blog Action Day] Climate Change presupposes that there is some sort of change coming in the status quo of climate not-change. And to a large extent, that is the case. I studied a variety of subjects but mostly circled around the most recent 25,000 years of this planet’s history. Lots of climate change there in those 25 millennia.

One thing is certain, and that is that climate change means changes in our world. Big changes. My experience covers things like woodlands becoming grasslands, and deserts emerging where herds of animals once grazed. Coastlines changed drastically as ocean levels went down when much of the northern hemisphere was covered with as much as 3 kilometers of ice.

When the average temperature rose again, millions of square miles of coast where animals (and humans) doubtlessly lived were again submerged as all that ice melted into the world’s oceans.

Relatives of ours, Neanderthals, disappeared. Lots of very conspicuous animals — huge grazers like mammoth and mastodons, woolly rhinoceros, giant ground sloths, and the predators that were dependent on them like saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, other cats and canine relatives — became extinct.

This particular episode will likely be unsurpassed since any in the last 7,000 years. It will be interesting, but not in a good way. More like the Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times.”

Perhaps we will go extinct…

Capitalism: It Makes You Feel Like a Battered Spouse

Not Moore’s movie Capitalism: A Love Story, Capitalism itself makes you feel like a battered spouse.

This movies documents the rampant ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ that has ensued since just after WWII. The director moves from as much street theater to fairly straight forward facts. I attended (Friday 2:30 pm) with a crowd (~50) of roughly retirement age people. They talked back to the screen and it felt, at times, like a Pentecostal meeting. I was very surprised, pleasantly so.

It may be preaching to the choir, but some may not be aware that our real obstacles lie, not from political parties, but corporate interests roiling the waters (cf. Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, et. al.) to obscure the real enemy — multi-national corporations granted the rights of ‘persons’ in a questionable recording of a SCOTUS ruling that drug the 14th amendment in places it did not belong.

So really, this is not about being part of “a nation of shopkeepers”, rather it is being chattel in a corporate system that takes out life insurance on its line employees hoping they will die young. Google ‘Dead Peasants‘ for more info about this delightful practice.

And really, the choir needs to be preached to, otherwise they might stop singing.

Go and see it, perhaps you too will feel like singing…

Thom Hartmann on “Sociopathic Paychecks”

This is from Thom Hartmann‘s daily email newsletter

Sociopathic Paychecks
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that “Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the US…  Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total US pay in 2007, the latest figures available.”
 
This article is largely excerpted from Thom Hartmann’s new book “Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture.”

One of the questions often asked when the subject of CEO pay comes up is, “What could a person such as William McGuire or Lee Raymond (the former CEOs of UnitedHealth and ExxonMobil, respectively) possibly do to justify a $1.7 billion paycheck or a $400 million retirement bonus?”

It’s an interesting question. If there is a “free market” of labor for CEOs, then you’d think there would be a lot of competition for the jobs. And a lot of people competing for the positions would drive down the pay. All UnitedHealth’s stockholders would have to do to avoid paying more than $1 billion to McGuire is find somebody to do the same CEO job for half a billion. And all they’d have to do to save even more is find somebody to do the job for a mere $100 million. Or maybe even somebody who’d work the necessary sixty-hour weeks for only $1 million.

So why is executive pay so high?

I’ve examined this with both my psychotherapist hat on and my amateur economist hat on, and only one rational answer presents itself: CEOs in America make as much money as they do because there really is a shortage of people with their skill set. And it’s such a serious shortage that some companies have to pay as much as $1 million a day to have somebody successfully do the job.

But what part of being a CEO could be so difficult-so impossible for mere mortals-that it would mean that there are only a few hundred individuals in the United States capable of performing it?

In my humble opinion, it’s the sociopath part.

CEOs of community-based businesses are typically responsive to their communities and decent people. But the CEOs of most of the world’s largest corporations daily make decisions that destroy the lives of many other human beings.

Only about 1 to 3 percent of us are sociopaths-people who don’t have normal human feelings and can easily go to sleep at night after having done horrific things. And of that 1 percent of sociopaths, there’s probably only a fraction of a percent with a college education. And of that tiny fraction, there’s an even tinier fraction that understands how business works, particularly within any specific industry.

Thus there is such a shortage of people who can run modern monopolistic, destructive corporations that stockholders have to pay millions to get them to work. And being sociopaths, they gladly take the money without any thought to its social consequences.

Today’s modern transnational corporate CEOs-who live in a private-jet-and-limousine world entirely apart from the rest of us-are remnants from the times of kings, queens, and lords. They reflect the dysfunctional cultural (and Calvinist/Darwinian) belief that wealth is proof of goodness, and that that goodness then justifies taking more of the wealth.

Democracy in the workplace is known as a union. The most democratic workplaces are the least exploitative, because labor has a power to balance capital and management. And looking around the world, we can clearly see that those cultures that most embrace the largest number of their people in an egalitarian and democratic way (in and out of the workplace) are the ones that have the highest quality of life. Those that are the most despotic, from the workplace to the government, are those with the poorest quality of life.

Over time, balance and democratic oversight will always produce the best results.  An “unregulated” marketplace is like an “unregulated” football game – chaos.  And chaos is a state perfectly exploited by sociopaths, be they serial killers, warlords, or CEOs.

By changing the rules of the game of business so that sociopathic business behavior is no longer rewarded (and, indeed, is punished – as Teddy Roosevelt famously did as the “trustbuster” and FDR did when he threatened to send “war profiteers” to jail), we can create a less dysfunctional and more egalitarian society.  And that’s an important first step back from the thresholds to environmental and economic disaster we’re now facing.

I would link to it directly if I could find the newsletter on the web.

Professor Gates v. Sgt. Crowley

[Update I:]

Gatesgate. Digby expresses herself on this much better than I can.

This is all in my ‘not so humble opinion.’
I just posted this on Facebook:

Sgt. James Crowley refuses to apologize to distinguished Professor Henry Louis Gates for arresting him at his home without probable cause. The Mayor has issued an apology, but the arresting officer and instigator refuses to recognize his fault.

Some background: I have lived in Las Vegas, NV since 1985. My first ‘big city.’ Prior to that, I went to college in Kansas and lived in rural Oregon and Arizona while working as an archaeologist.

I do not know how may of you have ever been ‘abused’ by the police, but I have had my wrist forced up between my shoulder blades, multiple times, had my day pack emptied on the ground, had my briefcase contents unceremoniously dumped onto a parking lot, had 2-liter bottles of soda poured out – though I have never been charged, never been told what I was suspected of
, and never been given an apology afterwards. Even an, “Oops, we made a mistake.” This is while I was thin, not so thin, with a shaved head, while very hairy, on the UNLV campus, on the DRI campus, riding a bicycle on campus, while driving a white pick-up truck in the suburbs.

One thing we forget is that our Police Departments have been given a mandate to fight an undeclared war against an enemy that only they can see. Because of the ‘War on Drugs’ and now the ‘War on Terrorism,’ the mandate to ‘protect’ us, – and lacking an exterior adversary, apparently from ourselves – is fully operational.

You *are* guilty until proven innocent. To pretend otherwise is to be, …, naive. Their mandate is to uncover the hidden menace. I am unsure how to pass this along to my 7 year old who I have taught to think, “policemen are my friends!” Until you’re about 11, buddy. (This breaks my heart.)

I know that Sgt.Crowley has been trained to *diffuse* antagonistic situations, Even if the perp is *wrong* and the officer has chosen to not follow that procedure, even after proper ID was provided and the situation was diffused. He chose to be aggrieved and offended. He let his ego get in the way.

I know we recruit from the human race, but we ask for a higher calling and Sgt. Crowley accepted that.

In my opinion, you *do* have a problem, Sgt, Crowley. “”That apology will never come from me as Jim Crowley, it won’t come from me as sergeant in the Cambridge Police Department,” Sgt. James Crowley told Boston radio station WEEI. “Whatever anybody else chooses to do in the name of the city of Cambridge or the Cambridge Police Department which are beyond my control, I don’t worry about that. I know what I did was right. I have nothing to apologize for.””

In my opinion and experience, Sgt. Crowley, yes you do have something to apologize for. This is not a case of ‘if the public would just straighten up, we would be fine…’

Just an aside – why did they take the word of someone who obviously did not know who lived in that house that it was being broken into?
In this case, the police (or at least this officer) are part of the problem.

Yes, I support the police and their mission. Just quit dealing in dualistic thinking.

I have been told (recently, by multiple conservative friends, relatives, and in-laws) that there are ‘plenty of people who want to work’ if I don’t want to ‘do the job.’ Sgt. Crowley, the door is over there.

Our Best and the Brightest Led us to the Moon and Now We’re Leaving Them Behind

Our Best and the Brightest Led us to the Moon and Now We’re Leaving Them Behind by Thom Hartmann

It is not surprising that it would take Forbes, the magazine that, for years, had as its slogan “Capitalist Tool,” to point out that the way money is spent in the field of education is truly bizarre. In their November 21, 1994 issue, an article by Peter Brimelow asks the question: “Would any management worth a damn put most of its dollars into its weakest divisions and starve the promising ones of capital?”

The next sentence answers the question: “Not and live for long.”

Yet, as the article goes on to show in eloquent detail, that is exactly what is happening with funding for our brightest and most gifted children in the US educational system. According to the Department of Education, state and local spending on gifted and talented children is less than two cents per hundred dollars spent. And federal funding is never more than one tenth of one percent.

According to the Department of Education, federal spending on education in 1993 was allocated:

  • 49.8% to “Disadvantaged” ($6.9 billion)
  • 0.13% to “Other” including bilingual, vocational, & impact aid ($4.1 billion)
  • 20.0% to “Handicapped” ($2.8 billion)
  • 00.07% to “Gifted” ($.0096 billion)

It was our gifted kids, grownup, who put men on the moon and who were the men on the moon. Yet total federal funding for gifted children from 1973 to 1990 was less than the cost of one B-2 bomber…and has declined since then.

Senator Bernie Sanders on Harry Reid’s Hormone Deficiency

Apropos to my letter to Harry Reid — over at Thom Hartmann, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to the difficulty of blocking the Republican filibuster thanks to Harry Reid’s hormone deficiency.

Scroll down to ‘THP090702 Brunch with Bernie.’ I am confident this will link rot like a big dog.

Rotted, dog removed…