Monday, March 19, 2007

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.

Its not a great time in history for American presidents as the last two have been proposed for impeachment, based on the fact that they are Liar, Liars, although the "Pants on Fire" part is only applicable to Bill Clinton as far as we know. However, the difference in scope of the lies that these Liar, Liars have been accused of telling is huge, in the order of a multitude of football fields different to (mis)use the favourite analogy of US news services.

Bill Clinton took Bible in hand and claimed that, according to the definition of sexual relations therein, he didn't have them with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. Whether or not he didn't understand that what was going on under the Oval Office desk was sexual in nature, he was trying only to save his marriage. (I wonder if Dubya uses the same Oval Office chair hmmm .... but I digress).

George W. Bush figuratively took his Bible in hand, although apparently open to Revelation rather than Exodus, and told us about nooquoolar weapons, various other "W.M.D's" and uranium from Africa, none of which existed of course. His intent was to take the most powerful nation in the world to war, the result of which has been the killing of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of (mostly innocent) Iraqis. There aren't enough football fields in all of America to lay end-to-end and explain that difference in scope.

Bill Clinton's efforts to save his marriage were understood by a majority of Americans who saw the Clinton family's problems as something to be dealt with by the Clinton family, which they were.

George W. Bush's actions have not only killed thousands of Iraqi women, children and other innocents, but also more Americans than the 9/11 attacks. They have destroyed any positive influence that America had in the world and put the most powerful and aggressive nation facing the majority of the rest of the world squarely across that ever-changing "line in the sand".

It seems the question for everyone outside the USA is "Why", why is George W. Bush still the president? Not only has he not been impeached or taken out of office by whatever means exist, he even won a second term, albeit on a platform of "Vote for me or you'll die". This must be the ultimate proof that, in a democracy, you get the government you deserve. No wonder the Neocons spend so much time, effort, money and (other people's) lives defending democracy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Those Freakin' Freegans

I recently found the website of an underground culture whose adherents live in a way which I feel just might start to turn around the current helter skelter race to self-destruction which I see happening in the so-called developed world. These are 21st century, urban hippies, living as free as possible from all the trappings of consumerism, capitalism, economic growth, globalization and, some might say, society.

Dumpster divers, perennial protesters, often homeless, usually disheveled, the kind of humans who are looked down upon for living their lives and leaving the smallest possible footprint as they go along.

An excerpt from

"After years of trying to boycott products from egregious corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn't just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself."

That sure strikes a chord with me. I try to use fairly traded products, foods that haven't used too much pesticide to grow or fossil fuel to travel and have been harvested and processed by people who are being paid a fair wage to do so and clothes that haven't been made in sweatshop conditions. However, I still end up feeling that I contribute far too much to others' miseries by the way I live.

If you care about what life is going to be like for our grandchildren or great grandchildren, take the time to read through the material on and try to visualize a world with double or triple the present population, where clean water and safe food are the stuff of legend and housing, health care, education, electrical energy and personal transportation are available only to the elite who live in fortified and guarded mansions.

If this post sounds like the product of a raving lunatic, hey, maybe it is. On the other hand, maybe it isn't. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Fare is Fair

Now for some socially conscious, warm-fuzzy, positive stuff (no ranting tonight).

Fair trade is actually getting some real traction these days. Coffee is leading the way and many grocery store coffee shelves are offering more and more fair trade varieties. Light, medium, dark and espresso roasts from Africa, Indonesia, South and Central America are available from of host of custom roasters. If 250 or 300 gram containers won't cut it, Costco sells 2 pound (908 gram) bags of beans under their Kirkland house brand, roasted by Starbucks.

In Canada, Fair Trade goods are certified by TransFair and their website says they certify coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, fruit (bananas and mangos), cereals (rice and quinoa), spices, cotton garments, wine, roses, and sports balls. TransFair also has a program to declare a Town or City as a 'Fair Trade Town" if it qualifies by meeting six goals. Wolfville, located in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia, will most likely become the first Fair Trade Town in Canada, probably later this month. Wolfville is a very progressive place so its well worth taking a look at their website.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The 6.5 Billion Horsemen of the Apocalypse

It has taken a very long time for politicians to accept the obvious with respect to climate change. We must remember that, in our democratic system, politicians are elected by all of us to represent us and this is probably the main reason why they will never tackle any problem which requires a solution that creates even a small hardship for the majority of us. They fear, rightly so, that they will fail to be re-elected.

There are several of these unpopular issues which are pushing our world towards the point of not being able to sustain human life. These are 'Growth' factors, most of which are paradoxically looked at as increasing our quality and enjoyment of life. Population, economy, consumerism, jobs, wealth, all these have been looked at as being able to grow continuously and without end. Believing this is obviously even more ridiculous than denying the effects of climate change.

During my lifetime, world population has tripled from just over 2 billion to 6.5 billion. During that time, the earth has not become any bigger and, in fact, the basic resources which sustain life, arable land, drinkable water, oxygen producing plants, have all been decreasing. It seems obvious that we have already passed the point of sustainability and that only 2 strategies will help: population reduction, preferably by reducing the birth rate to below the death rate for the foreseeable future, or, reducing the world standard of living to subsistence level while holding the population steady and apportioning the existing resources evenly amongst all people.

Although this may sound like a 'socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing countries', I see it as a last ditch effort to produce a soft landing to the end of the capitalist dominated world order. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the 'wealth-producing countries' will probably feel the results of non-action even more that those who are currently at an economic disadvantage.

One of the most likely mechanisms for uncontrolled population reduction would be a massive pandemic and pandemics would be felt much more quickly by the travelers from the developed world than by nomads or villagers. In any case, such massive and uncontrolled depopulation would cause a complete breakdown of order and infrastructure throughout the world so no one would escape the chaos, anarchy and destruction.

Perhaps we should be looking for politicians who are touting 'population shrinkage', 'economic decline' or 'wealth redistribution'. Get out on the street now and campaign before governments start to rebuild the mental health institutions they closed to save your money. While they have now found that there is no where to put so many of the homeless and addicted who have mental health problems, there is also no where for them to put you, so you just might be able to get your message out without disappearing. Lots of luck.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Living SMALL in the world of LARGE

What basis is there for equating QUALITY OF LIFE with STANDARD OF LIVING?

Standard of Living is measured by a person's income or wealth while Quality of Life is much harder to quantify as it has to do with the person's psychological well-being. Psychologist Abraham Maslow devised a hierarchy of needs which is usually diagrammed as a pyramid with the physiological or 'basic' needs at the bottom and the transcendent or 'higher' needs at the top. In between these extremes, from the bottom are safety, belonging and esteem needs.

While Maslow's hierarchy has its detractors, it seems to be generally agreed that, in our society at least, some arrangement which has the basest needs to be filled first and the highest needs at the pinnacle is correct. Even if you don't agree that this is generally agreed, I do and, since this is my blog, that's what counts. I feel better already for having said that so there's my proof.

For a discussion of Maslow's and other needs hierarchies, check this Wikipedia entry.

Assuming that you agree with my premise, a fair assumption since you are still reading, this puts a high Standard of Living at the bottom of the pyramid filling or over-filling basic needs and a high Quality of Life at the top, attainable only through self-actualization and transcendence. This would explain why I increasingly feel that the relationship between SoL and QoL is inverse rather than direct; the more financially secure I become, the less I seem to enjoy my life (within reason of course).

We tend to spend our lives earning, looking for promotion or a higher paying job, investing, shopping and using all our time and energy to fill the basic needs of life. This leaves us with no resources to put into being more than a basic, living organism. So, rather than risk being reduced to the status of an amoeba or slime mould, I started a blog; and you should too; or face the consequences.