Tag Archives: Work

I Weigh-In on the Humboldt County DA Race

scales_of_justice

Everyone should already know that justice is a joke here in Humboldt County, so I thought a look at this year’s crop of District Attorney candidates might be good for a laugh. Personally, I’m just glad to see our current D. A. Paul Gallegos step down. Hand-picked, and financed by Humboldt County’s dope yuppies, Paul Gallegos seems like the kind of D. A. that organized crime would support.

capitalism-is-organized-crime

Paul Gallegos always struck me as a showboat. Whenever I saw Paul Gallegos in the halls of the county courthouse, I expected to see a camera crew following him around. He always dressed “to the nines,” bearing this feckless expression that makes him look like they hired him to fill the suit. He looks more like a TV anchorman than a District Attorney. I have no idea whether he’s any good at his job, but I doubt that he is, because I don’t trust anyone who devotes that much energy to their appearance.

gallegos-

No, the County of Humboldt has never charged me with a crime, so I have no experience with the criminal justice system here, but I do enjoy a good civil lawsuit every once in a while. As a result, I spent a fair amount of time at the county courthouse in Eureka back when all of the current candidates haunted it’s hallowed halls. Lawyers do more of their work in the hallways of the courthouse, than they do in actual courtrooms, so I had the opportunity to watch them all, in action.

Humbolt-County-Courthou

Visiting the county courthouse always reminds me of why I live in the country: florescent lights, tile floors, people who smell like dryer sheets, people who just smell, women wearing make-up and high-heels, men wearing dry-cleaned suits, cops, and an endless parade of humanity who go there to have their souls crushed. No one looks happy. No one looks healthy. No one looks like they want to be there. “This is what civilization is all about,” I remind myself, “an oppressive, artificial environment full of bad vibes.”

bad vibes

I pity the people who work in that environment, especially the clerks, secretaries, and court reporters, but also the commissioners, officers and department heads who work in all of the county offices, and even the lawyers, prosecutors, judges and County Supervisors. A lot of people would call those good, high-paying jobs, or at least relatively secure jobs with decent benefits, but go to the courthouse and look into their eyes. Do these people look happy to you? In the long run, how and where you spend your day matters a hell of a lot more than how much money you make, and security = death.

security

Good-looking people are few and far between at the courthouse. Interns and entry-level office help tend to look the best, but they go downhill fast in that environment. In that environment, the eyes grow hungry for a pleasing form, and anything less than grotesque will do. In the courthouse, Elan Firpo looks pretty good.

elan firpo cu

Anywhere else, she’s just another mom in a minivan, but if the D. A.’s race were a beauty contest, Elan Firpo would win, hands down.

beauty pageant

Here in SoHum, Elan Firpo seems to be winning the yard sign vote, and the Firpo signs seem to occupy the same places that previously sported Gallegos signs. In an area so dependent on criminal activity, it seems that many people around here prefer an ornamental District Attorney.

sexy D A

Personally, I wouldn’t vote for an attractive D. A. Jobs don’t come any uglier than that of District Attorney. The D. A. deals with murderers, rapists, child molesters, wife beaters, and every other low-life sleaze-ball in the county, and needs to know every little detail of their grisly crimes. Being immersed like that, in the worst of the worst, takes it’s toll. A few years of that could turn Elle McFerson into Angela Merkle. No one wants to see that happen to a pretty face.

Humboldt County DA  before after

I’m not saying that a woman couldn’t handle the D. A. position, or that Elan Firpo is not qualified for the job; I’m saying that no one should take the job of D. A. unless they’re already ugly, and have proven that they know how to handle it.

got ugly

I don’t remember what Maggie Fleming looks like, but with over 120 jury trials under her belt, I can imagine. Maggie Fleming also gets points with me for her writing. Of the three candidates who managed to get a blurb in my sample ballot, Maggie Fleming did the best job of writing hers.

maggie-flemming looks too good

I don’t think well of people who can’t write. I figure that if you can’t write well, you probably don’t think very well either. I imagine that writing skills, knowing how to convey information clearly, articulately, and gracefully, helps greatly when presenting a case before the jury, and I’ll bet Maggie Fleming does a great job of that.

maggie-fleming smile

I’ve seen a few of Maggie Fleming’s signs, mostly on property belonging to “old money,” the ranchers, descendents of the original settlers, and the people who made Roger Rodoni an unbeatable force for so many years. Although these days, I feel nostalgic for our old cowboy County Supervisor, I still don’t trust the political machine that got him elected.

rodoni zombie dead

I’m suspicious of Allan Dollison for other reasons. I don’t know why, but every time I see Allan Dollison, he reminds me of someone involved in the JFK assassination. I don’t know whether he looks like someone in the Zapruder Film, someone on the Warren Commission or maybe one of the actors in the Oliver Stone movie, but he always reminds me of the assassination of President John F Kennedy. I know that President Kennedy was long dead before Allan Dollison was even born, but I still don’t trust him.

JFK allan dollison

Allan Dollison is proud to have served in the Iraq War. No one should be proud to have served in the Iraq War. I realize that people take pride in serving their country, and that the military builds certain skills, but the Iraq War was the biggest crime against humanity of the 21st Century, at least so far. Participating in it is nothing to be proud of. Allan Dollison promises to shake up the D. A.’s office, but I just can’t get behind an admitted war criminal with connections to the JFK assassination.

allan dollison-grassy knoll

Which brings me to the fourth, final, and my personal favorite candidate for District Attorney, based on my personal experience at the courthouse, Arnie Klein. If you think of the 2nd floor of the county courthouse as a coral reef ecosystem: lawyers are dolphins, their clients are tuna, and the court reporters, clerks, and secretaries are angelfish. In this scenario, the judges would be large groupers, each ensconced in their own little cave, while the cops are barracudas constantly circling the scene. The criminal defendants, on the other hand, are just chum. If you imagine the Humboldt County courthouse that way, Arnie Klein was the big shark.

big_shark_

In reality, the courthouse is nothing like a coral reef ecosystem. There’s nothing natural about a courthouse, and nothing about it nourishes life. Quite the contrary. The courthouse is a place of dispute, violation, and punishment, and it consumes the lives of those who inhabit it.

consume your life

You can immediately see what working at the courthouse has done to Armie Klein’s face. The guy has more wrinkles than a relief map of the King Range.  Arnie Klein doesn’t just look like he’s been to hell and back, he looks like that’s his daily commute. That’s what a District Attorney should look like.

arnie klein wrinkles

I understand that Arnie Klein has been sick. That doesn’t surprise me a bit. If he gets the D. A. job, I bet it will kill him. That’s OK. Arnie Klein probably wishes he were dead already, and his family has got to be sick of looking at him.

arnies-retirement family1

From watching Arnie Klein in action, it became clear to me that he loved his job, and was very good at it, despite the toll it took on him. Arnie clearly belongs at the courthouse. When he dies, they should stuff him and mount him on a pedestal in the hallway on the second floor.

arnie klein memorial

I can’t tell you about Arnie’s writing ability, because he failed to get a blurb in my sample ballot. I had to look for his ad in Savage Henry to make sure I spelled his name correctly. Apparently, Arnie believes he can win the D. A.’s race solely on the strength of his popularity with illiterates. That might seem like a bold strategy, but not that many people in Humboldt County read, and those that do, tend to ask embarrassing questions, so it’s best to ignore them anyway.

we cant read

After hearing him on Ed Denson’s KMUD radio show, I worry that Arnie Klein has more personality and charisma than the entire Board of Supervisors put together. He might be able to rally enough public support to pressure the supervisors to pump up his budget, at the expense of social programs for the poor. Social programs, even the few that remain, do far more to protect the property owning public than any amount of money spent on new Deputy D. A.s. I’m sure Arnie doesn’t see it that way, but don’t forget, Arnie is a shark, and all he sees is chum.

pardon chum

Well, chum, that’s my take on the 2014 Humboldt County District Attorney’s race.

D As race


Humboldt County is So “Alternative”

Humboldt County is So “Alternative”

so alternative

When I first moved to Humboldt County, I thought that no one should go to jail for gardening, least of all, for growing cannabis. I felt strongly about this. I went so far as to don a funny hat and carry a sign to voice my disapproval of the war on drugs, and specifically against marijuana prohibition.

thats me next month

I love marijuana, cannabis, pot, weed, ganja, grass, whatever you want to call it. I think it is a beautiful and sacred plant. I like growing cannabis, I like smoking it, eating it, drinking it and sharing it with friends. I felt that no one should be punished for their involvement with it, be they in possession of it, under the influence of it or involved in cultivating it. Today, I feel differently.

me

Today, I think Humboldt County dope yuppies should be sent to someplace like Guantanamo Bay, and water-boarded with their own nutrient solution. Specifically, every time I hear someone around here complain about the falling price of marijuana, I want to see them choking, spitting and pleading for their life while Dick Cheney personally holds the watering wand over their Saran Wrapped face, a solution of piss, manure and decomposing organic filth raining down their throats as they squirm and writhe in agony.

Waterboarding 5

I, like all good people everywhere, am overjoyed that marijuana prices have begun to fall, and that the bitter end of the drug war finally appears to be in sight. We still have lots of work to do. Pot prices remain outrageously high despite recent declines, and too many innocent people still get arrested for minor marijuana possession, but at least we seem to have won the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public. We still need to mobilize that support to overturn draconian prohibition laws, but at last, it seems, the momentum is on our side.

Marijuana-Legalization-564x750

Of course, we can’t expect Humboldt County dope yuppies to to help. They’re the disease. Don’t expect them to be part of the cure. Really, dope yuppies don’t care about the social costs of prohibition. They’ve all seen their friends busted. Half of them have been busted themselves. They know how traumatic that is on families. They don’t care.

bad cops

They know about all of the murders, the missing persons cases, the home-invasion robberies, the violent crime, and the hard drugs that come along with a reliance on black-market dealers. They never stop complaining about the homelessness and poverty, even though they cause most of it. They know Humboldt county has double or triple the murder rate, suicide rate and meth abuse rate of the rest of California. If they ever visited the Garberville Branch of the Humboldt County library, which they don’t, they’d know that the roof leaks, they only have two computers, that barely work, and that the library has no wifi connectivity at all. Blinded by the money that the illegal trade in black-market marijuana brings in, they hardly notice the lack of social capital in their community.

blinded by cash

Instead, they blow their money on parties and status symbols. They already have one huge, expensive concert venue, and they can’t wait to build another one. They drive gigantic gas-guzzling trucks and clear the forest to build enormous Connecticut-style, middle-class, suburban homes. Once the narco-dollars started pouring in, they turned their backs on the greater community and began “keeping up with the Joneses”.

Keeping-Up-with-the-Joneses1

So, don’t worry about what happens to Humboldt County’s dope yuppies when prohibition ends. Celebrate, when the price of an oz of kind bud drops below $50, because some big, legal, publicly traded company wants to be the WalMart of weed. Enjoy it! Don’t fret about the plight of Humboldt’s pot farmers, because Humboldt County growers never gave a fuck about you.

I dont give a fuck lg

Not once have I heard a Humboldt County dope yuppie say: “Man, it really sucks that marijuana has to be so expensive for people.” or “With prices of food and energy rising so fast, how on Earth can working people afford the marijuana they need?” or even, “I’ll bet more people would survive cancer if medical marijuana didn’t cost so much.” Not once have I ever heard that sentiment expressed by a Humboldt County grower.

im-listening

They all know how great marijuana is, and they keep tons of it around the house for their own use. They’ve got cannabis tincture to relieve menstrual cramps, cannabis salve for muscle aches, and hash-laced chocolates for aphrodisiacs. They make cosmic brownies, cookies and goo-balls. They make juice, decoctions and tea from it, and they keep at least four or five different flavors of marijuana, and maybe two or three different kinds of hash around for their personal smoking pleasure.

cannabis_jars5

I don’t knock them for this. I’m with them. It’s great to have plenty of marijuana. Cannabis is wonderful. It’s good for a lot of things, and offers a lot of benefits to people who use it. It’s damn near impossible to hurt yourself with it, so it makes sense to keep plenty of it on hand.

pile of pot

Humboldt County growers take this for granted, but they know that having plenty of marijuana really helps reduce stress. They know about stress. Running an illegal business creates stress of its own. They have other stresses, just like anyone else, but they always have plenty of ganja, and they never have to worry about how much it costs.

money for weed

They don’t have the stress of trying to figure out how to squeeze $40 out of a $300 paycheck, to pay for an eighth of an oz of marijuana, roughly four Humboldt County joints, and then how to budget that three-and-a-half grams of cannabis over seven days. They don’t know what it’s like to skip the dinner out, the concert or the new shirt because a few puffs of kind bud makes that 40 hours of customer-service hell they endure each week, tolerable, but that’s how the rest of America lives.

retail-hell

That’s only half of the price that Americans pay for marijuana. The middle-class subsidizes artificially high marijuana prices by paying taxes that pay for cops, jails and prison guards. The working poor subsidize artificially high marijuana prices by getting arrested and going to jail. That’s why Americans want marijuana legalized: They’re sick of subsidizing the marijuana industry while they work themselves to death for less and less every year.

work to death

Americans pay too damn much for marijuana, and they’re tired of skimping on everything else just for a taste of the kind green bud. They’re tired of paying black-market prices, tired of dealing with black-market dealers, and sick of being treated like criminals, just so that a handful of smug, self-righteous, and self-absorbed dope yuppies can perpetually congratulate themselves for being so “alternative”.

im awesome

Yeah, Humboldt County dope yuppies are so “alternative”… the way a tick is “alternative”. Now plug in that fucking pump and hand me the Saran Wrap.tick


Work, Wealth and The Good Life; Living Earth Connection #8

 

Work, Wealth and The Good Life

us-wealth

Please tune in to The Living Earth Connection, hosted by Amy Gustin, today, Sunday Dec. 29th at 9:30AM on KMUD. The Living Earth Connection is unlike any radio show you’ll hear anywhere. The Living Earth Connection looks beyond politics, philosophy and religion to examine the culture which is foundational to them all, and from which they all spring. The Living Earth Connection airs on the fifth Sunday of the month, and only in months that have five Sundays, in the “Spiritual Perspectives”, Sunday 9:30-10:30AM time-slot on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio, Garberville, CA, and online both streaming and archived at www.kmud.org.

kmud-radio-logo

In this episode of The Living Earth Connection, Amy Gustin examines how we think about “work”, “wealth” and “the good life”. How we think about work, wealth and “the good life” effects how we live in the world, and how we live in the world determines the contents of our lives and our footprint on the planet. These ideas are foundational to our culture, but in fact, most of us work way too hard, far too few of us enjoy the benefits of the “wealth”we create, and sum total of all of our work is killing the planet. The show looks at why this is, and how it can be different.

Workers clean up oil spilled by the refr

Work, Wealth and The Good Life is the eighth episode of The Living Earth Connection. You can download or listen to Work, Wealth and The Good Life, as well as all of the previous episodes of The living Earth Connection at The Living Earth Connection blog.livingearth back cover


Growing Marijuana is A Labor of Love in Humboldt County

Growing Marijuana is A Labor of Love in Humboldt County

labor of love

Well Spring is almost here, which means that all over Humboldt County, marijuana farmers are incredibly busy preparing to grow even more marijuana than they did last year. Even as you read this piece, most of them are hard at work building new greenhouses, clearing more forest land, putting in new water tanks and digging gigantic holes all over the countryside.digging_hole

This process involves hundreds of thousands of man-hours of backbreaking labor and requires millions of dollars in capital investment.

 money-tree-

This capital comes almost entirely from the sale of last year’s record setting marijuana harvest. Since most of last year’s marijuana harvest has not sold yet, this investment cuts deeply into the grower’s disposable income. Few feel the pinch however, as they will have little time or energy to do anything else for a few months, but prepare for this year’s grow.

 tired kid

Why do they do it? So they don’t have to get a job, of course. Who wants to work for a living when you can grow marijuana, right? You’d think, but you’d be wrong. In Humboldt County, growing marijuana is a labor of love, crazy love.

 crazy love

Soon thousands of tractor trailers full of potting soil will clog our roads as they make their way into the hills to fill the millions of holes these growers have so diligently dug.

truck clogging dirt road

Every year, Humboldt County’s garden supply stores comb the nation for another sparsely populated and poorly guarded county that they can steal. They then dig up the entire county in the dead of night, pack it into bags labeled “Potting Soil” and smuggle it back to Humboldt County where they quickly sell it off on a strictly cash basis to Humboldt County marijuana farmers.

 sacks of soil

Somewhere in Wyoming, or perhaps North Dakota, one morning soon, the citizens of this unfortunate county will step off their front porch on their way to work, only to fall several feet, smack into the bedrock below. They will look up to see their home delicately balanced on jacks and cinder blocks, and realize that their entire lawn, and the soil which once supported the foundation of their homes, has been stolen overnight while they slept.

 truckload of soil

For them, it will already be too late. Their county has already been sold, distributed, and secreted away behind locked gates, where it will remain, protected by a constitutionally guaranteed right of privacy. Besides, few of them could positively identify the soil from under their own homes, especially now that it has been thoroughly sifted and blended with a myriad of exotic amendments.

 organic soil amendments

If you visit any of Humboldt County’s garden supply stores, you will find an amazing array of colorfully packaged, and even more colorfully named, fertilizers and soil amendments ranging from liquified fish guts from Alaska’s salmon canneries to ancient fossilized bat guano from caves deep within the jungles of Peru. Most Humboldt County garden shops also offer their own brands of fertilizers that they make on site, mostly from composted US currency.

 composted currency

Many of these fertilizers and soil amendments feature cheeky pin-up girls on the labels. This feature, along with the fact that these products sell for more per pound than fresh organic strawberries in January, indicate that these products are intended for use on marijuana plants. Only female marijuana plants produce marijuana, and marijuana growers often refer to their plants as “their ladies”.

 Wet-Betty-Organic-500x500

You’ll often hear marijuana farmers say things like: “My ladies are lookin’ fine.” or “I take care of my ladies, and my ladies take care of me.” or “I need to to get home and hoe my ladies.” This makes them sound more like pimps than farmers, and greatly contributes to the general classiness of Humboldt County.

 pimp1

Can you imagine other kinds of farmers talking this way about their crops? Picture a dairy farmer saying “My ladies give me the sweetest cream.” or a broccoli farmer saying “This heat is gonna make my ladies bolt.” or a cabbage farmer saying “My ladies are full of horn-worms.” Creepy, huh?

 pimp tractor

All of this talk about their “ladies” belies the fact that most marijuana farmers are single and live alone. Growing marijuana in a remote, sparsely populated rural area like Humboldt County is a very lonely and isolating profession that tends to attract social misfits and people with self-alienating personalities.

 social misfit warning

The more lonely and isolated the marijuana farmer becomes, the more they tend to talk to, get naked around, and masturbate in front of, their “ladies”, often while looking at the pictures on boxes of fertilizer. This kind of “intimacy” with “their ladies”, coupled with an otherwise isolated existence builds a special kind of relationship between the cultivator and the cultivated that most other farmers, or sane people would not understand.

mykol blackwell green checco

Original Artwork by Mykol Blackwell

Soon, the marijuana farmer no longer grows marijuana to make money, and instead, makes money to grow marijuana. For these people, nothing is too good for “their ladies”, and they cannot have enough of them. They work harder, and spend more money to pamper “their ladies” than any sane farmer. This is the real reason why Humboldt County marijuana growers produce the best marijuana in the world, and more of it than any place else on Earth.

 local_pot_GALLERY

Over the years, because of their extreme devotion and isolation, many Humboldt County marijuana growers have gone totally bat-shit crazy, and fallen in love with “their ladies” in this way. This is why they work so hard, and spend so much money on, “their ladies”.  Every year, more of them go “over the edge”, and every year this “crazy love” impacts our forest habitat more intensely.

 large humboldt grow

large grows destroy forest

Personally, I enjoy smoking marijuana, and strongly believe it should be legalized, so that sane farmers, with tractors, and flat land to till, can grow it economically.

farmer on tractor

I also know that marijuana provides relief for millions of sick people who should have unfettered access to it, at the lowest price possible, but I also care about this community.

i care

That’s why I feel that something must be done to stop Humboldt County’s marijuana farmers before it’s too late. It has become clear to me, that nothing short of intervention, can save these poor souls, and our natural environment from this serious mental disorder.

gone crazy


Hello, My Name is Civilization, and I’m an Alcoholic

Hello, My Name is Civilization, and I’m an Alcoholic

 aa meeting bad start

OK, I’m going to squeeze an enormous idea into a short, not too boring essay. Try to hang with me on this. Civilization began with something called “the agricultural revolution”. That is, a fundamental shift from a hunting and gathering lifestyle, to a farming lifestyle. This farming lifestyle led to permanent settlements, which then grew into cities, and eventually, into the civilization we know today. The question is: Why did they do it?

 Why

To start, lets take a very long look at human history. According to fossil evidence, people just like us, have inhabited this planet for well over one million years. One million years ago, all humans lived in Africa, and all humans lived very much like the San Bushmen of the Calihari Desert live today.

 gudigwa-bushmen-hunting

The San are a “hunting and gathering” culture. They plant no crops. They tend no livestock. Instead, they hunt wild game and gather wild plants for food. They have no written language, but have a very rich oral tradition. Even though the San have been pushed into some of the most inhospitable land on the African continent, they only work about four hours a day to meet their daily needs. They rarely go hungry, and enjoy better nutrition and more food security than do the farming people who now surround them.

 ethiopia farmer

The San enjoy a lot of leisure time, which they spend telling stories, making music, dancing and playing games, among other things. They have a rich culture, and that culture contains over one million years of accumulated knowledge about how to live on planet Earth. That knowledge allows them to flourish in the middle of a desert, while the farming people around them, who have forcibly taken all of the good land, work long hours, suffer from poor nutrition, and often starve.

 hunger_ethiopia

But one million years ago, there were no farming people. All humans lived a hunting and gathering lifestyle, not unlike the San. Over the course of the last one million years, hunting and gathering humans spread out over Asia and Europe, and eventually even Australia and the Americas. This spread of humanity happened at a glacial pace, but by about 40,000 years ago, damn near every place on Earth that would support human life, was, albeit sparsely, inhabited by humans. This slow spread of hunter-gatherer culture gave rise to the vast diversity of sustainable human cultures around the world, from the Inuit to the Yanomami.

 yanomami tribe

40,000 years ago, humans lived all over the world, quite happily, as hunters and gatherers. I’m not saying that they didn’t have problems, or that they didn’t fight. They had problems, and they fought, but they didn’t destroy the planet. They didn’t overpopulate the planet. They didn’t overheat the planet, and they didn’t work 40-50 hours a week just to get by.

 overworked__1

So, the question is: Why, among the thousands of indigenous cultures around the world, did just one particular culture in the Middle-East, reject the collective knowledge of a million years of culture, and begin farming?

 hunters why

Farming is a lot of work, and not much fun. Compared to hunting and picking berries, plowing a field with a rock tied to a stick must have seemed quite tedious. Why did they do it?

 why farm half

If you’ve got plenty of food, which fossil records tell us they did, why would you plant wheat and barley? Even more perplexing: Why would they sacrifice the habitat of the game animals and wild plants that had sustained them for eons, to clear fields for wheat and barley?

 wheat-and-barley

That is what happened, by the way. One particular culture in the Middle-East took up farming, even though they had plenty of food, and then proceeded to farm so aggressively and so passionately, that they completely destroyed their own habitat. They wiped out all of the game animals and wild plants that they had relied on since the beginning of time. What was their motivation? What madness possessed them? What did they get out of wheat and barley that was worth destroying the world for?

 ur arial shot

The answer of course is BEER. Think about it awhile. Many indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes drink fermented alcoholic beverages on occasion, usually following an abundant fruit harvest, but the founders of civilization, sought to make drunkenness a daily, rather than an annual event.

beermaking

Addiction is a very powerful motivator.

aa_addiction

Yes, all of civilization is a dysfunctional adjustment made to support an alcoholic lifestyle. Don’t you think its time that we faced the fact that we have a problem?

alcoholism


Doping Hurts Everyone, Especially Drug Enthusiasts

Doping Hurts Everyone, Especially Drug Enthusiasts

 

Well they stripped Lance Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles, leaving those races unwon in the annals of international cycling. As a recreational drug user, you might think that since I take drugs myself, it wouldn’t bother me so much that athletes use steroids, human growth hormone and god knows what else to improve their performance, but you’d be wrong. I find this explosion of the use of performance enhancing drugs particularly insidious, and it really pisses me off.

Like life doesn’t suck enough for people of normal abilities, now they have to worry about everyone else using drugs to edge them out of jobs, sports, college, game shows and even dates.  I remember cocaine as the first popular performance enhancing drug, and look at what a nightmare that turned into. I don’t think we have recovered yet, as a society, from the damage it caused.

Before cocaine, we took drugs to impair performance, or at least we accepted that side-effect as part of the experience. No one thought of partying as particularly competitive. We took drugs because they made us feel good, not because they made us feel better than other people.

Cocaine changed all of that. Suddenly, partying became a competitive sport. It wasn’t enough anymore, to smoke a joint, have a few drinks, relax and unwind with your friends. Instead, while you got quietly shitfaced, your friends all started talking faster than a caffeinated auctioneer. They were still dancing at 2:00 AM, when most decent people have already passed out in a puddle of their own vomit.

Most of them didn’t even dance before cocaine, but after the cocaine, if you wanted to hang with them, it was going to cost you. Then, all of these cocaine people started to get really competitive at work, because they needed more money to afford all of the cocaine they took. They started identifying with the boss’ greed more than with their coworkers interests.

Cocaine had as much to do with the collapse of labor unions in America as Ron Reagan, and the two worked together, hand in glove. Instead of standing together, we were all too busy running back and forth to the bathroom, trying to get the edge on each other, selling each other out, and screwing each other over.

All of those cocaine idiots eventually crashed and burned, but we’ve never recovered, as a nation, from the moral decay we suffered as a result of the cocaine epidemic. To this day, we remain a nation of greedy, superficial, backbiting egomaniacs. That’s real damage, folks! Cocaine turned us into a nation of assholes who systematically exterminate human decency for profit.

It’s not enough just to show up for work anymore. Now, they expect you to push yourself to exhaustion, just like a coke-head, and they’re always pushing you to improve your performance, because everything is so competitive these days. Why, do you suppose, is everything so competitive these days? It’s because cocaine turned us all against each other, and we’ve never been able to trust each other since.

I still enjoy drugs, but I take them because they feel good, or because I want to have a drug experience, not because I think they give me an edge over other people. People like Lance Armstrong, who strive to be exceptional, and especially those who juice themselves with performance enhancing drugs, make life harder for the rest of us who just want to show up, go through the motions, and draw a paycheck. For that, they should be punished severely.


On The Money, Cheap Calories

On The Money;

Economic Advice for the 99%

Cheap Calories

 

Its official. July 2012 was the hottest month in history. The last 12 months have been the hottest year in history. With the Olympics going on right now, it seems like a great time to break records, don’t you think? Maybe it’s time we gave Global Climate Crisis a gold medal for its performance this year, now that half the counties in the US have been declared disaster areas because of the heat, violent weather events, wildfires and drought.

 

I think Global Climate Crisis has really proven that it has what it takes to beat war, disease, poverty or political oppression, hands down. We’ll call the event “biggest threat to life on Earth”. This relative newcomer to the pestilence field has had to overcome a lot of obstacles to even be considered a contender, but this summer’s performance has really done a lot to remove those doubts.

 

NOAA’s chief climate scientist, James Hanson, says that this summer provides statistical proof that global climate change is real, and that it is man-made. However, if you don’t believe the evidence of your own eyes, and have gotten used to dismissing climate scientists as alarmist, Chicken Little types, statistical proof probably won’t change your opinion either. Such is the nature of denial. Reality doesn’t affect it much.

 

So, if you like triple digit temperatures, bizarre new weather events, dust-bowl-like droughts and giant wildfires, you are in luck, because we’re going to see a lot more of them. Yes, global climate change is likely to be more fun than you ever imagined. So get ready for some climate excitement, and be sure to thank the 1% for turning up the global thermostat.

 

Last year they gave us the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The year before that, it was the BP oil gusher in in the Gulf of Mexico. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year, because it only gets worse from here, but what do they get out of it?

 

Why do the 1% keep investing in fossil fuels, nuclear power, and GMO crops for that matter, even though it will almost certainly have disastrous long-term consequences? After all, if the richest 1% of us can’t take the long view, and base their decisions and devote their resources towards what’s best for the survival of life on Earth in the long run, who can?

 

Remember, that we, the 99% are just now figuring out that the 1% are ripping us off, destroying our planet, and ruining our lives, but the 1% have known that all along. The 1% knows that their empire would crumble, and that we would kill them if we ever get out from under their thumb. They really do have their hands full keeping all of us in line. Enslaving 7 billion people takes a lot of energy, and so, energy, not life on Earth, remains their highest priority.

 

If you want to watch the 1% in action in your life, look for the cheap energy. Gasoline, diesel fuel, grid electricity, natural gas, propane, aviation fuel. We wouldn’t have any of these without the 1%. Drilling platforms, nuclear power plants, oil refineries, etc. all take big capital, and the kind of government support that only really big money can afford. Whether you eat them, burn them in your car, use them to dry your clothes, watch TV, surf the internet, or fly to Miami, those cheap calories work to undermine the value of everything we do a human beings.

 

How so? Simple, you can’t possibly do as much work, in one day, as a gallon of gasoline. At today’s prices, that means your labor is worth less than $4 a day. That’s one way that cheap calories undermine your value as a human being. Cheap calories means it doesn’t cost much to ship jobs overseas to the cheapest labor markets, or to ship products and resources to the highest bidders, and cheap calories means our population continues to expand.

 

Cheap edible calories means most of us don’t ever struggle to find enough to eat. Instead, we struggle not to eat too much. By keeping food artificially plentiful, with capital intensive agribusiness techniques like high-tech factory farms, GMO food crops, and monoculture on a massive scale, the 1% has removed any sense of of our connection to the carrying capacity of of the land. As a result, global human population continues to explode exponentially, further lowering the value of any one individual.

 

So, if you want to see the 1% at work in your life, look at the places you find cheap calories; the gas station, grocery store, your electric bill, the corner convenience store or fast food restaurant. You’ll find cheap calories everywhere, and everywhere you find cheap calories, you’ll find the 1% using them to control your life and wreck your planet. Cheap calories cheapen life, and the 1% feeds them to you to keep you under control. There’s a view of the energy crisis that’s On The Money


ON The Money; Getting Emotional

On The Money;

Economic Advice for the 99%

Getting Emotional

In our culture, reason reigns supreme. In school they teach us to value reason, logic, and rational thinking, but they teach us to control our emotions, to keep them to ourselves, and not to let them interfere with our work. While the rational mind constantly gets rewarded through good grades, high-paying jobs, etc, our emotional responses, especially negative emotional responses, invoke scorn and discipline. We learn to override our emotional responses early in life, but we have emotions for a reason, and often they carry a lot of wisdom.

 

We learned to override our emotional aversion to school, which made it easier to override our emotional aversion to work. Pretty soon we start to recognize the thump of our heart, as it hits the bottom of a pit of despair, as the call of duty, and we do what we’re supposed to. We learn to expect life to suck. We rationalize it. We invent ethical codes and religions around it. We say it builds character, but have you looked around lately? I see more shallow, greedy, status conscious, small-minded idiots every day, and we here in the US work harder than anyone in the developed world. Is that the kind of character we need more of?

 

We learn how to pretend we like it, saying we love our job, doing extra work and kissing ass to prove it. We learn how to cope with life as a wage slave, while our desires, hopes and dreams turn to bitter resentment. After a while, when your emotions finally realize that you’ll never to listen to them, it all turns to depression. Depression sells pharmaceutical drugs like no other condition on Earth. If you have it, its why you can’t afford to be without health insurance. If you don’t have it, its why you can’t afford health insurance.

 

Depression, refers to the complete loss of enthusiasm for life. You may think emotions are inconvenient, silly, or irrelevant, but when your emotions give up on you, nothing else matters. Your emotions are smarter than they look, but they deserve close scrutiny. If your emotions are telling you to buy something, chances are they are being manipulated.

 

After almost 100 years of subliminal manipulation of our emotions through advertizing and mass media, we often find our emotions working at cross-purposes with our best interests. The 1% uses your emotions against you through a campaign of very sophisticated psychological warfare, carried out through advertizing and media. As a result, the more media you consume, the more inadequate you feel, the more needy you feel, and the more stuff you want.

 

Watching TV instantly turns you into the ugliest, poorest and dullest person in the room, by filling the room with sexy, witty, well-dressed people who completely ignore you. Don’t invite them into your home! Even though they seem to ignore you, everything they say and do is designed to take advantage of you, and use your emotions against you.

 

Not only has the field of psychology completely failed to help the millions of people who suffer from serious mental illness, they have induced mental illness in millions more by collaborating with business to manipulate buying, voting, driving, smoking, or any other kind of behavior they choose. Psychology is not about understanding the mind, psychology is the study of behavior, and how to manipulate it. Right now, thousands of college educated psychologists, with mortgages and student loans to pay off, are telling their bosses how much they love their job, and really knocking themselves out to find new ways to manipulate your behavior, by using your emotions against you.

 

While real rich, snooty obnoxious people might make snide comments about you while they drink all your booze and grind their cigarette butts into your carpet, they wouldn’t have an army of mad scientists orchestrating every word and movement purely for the purpose of taking advantage of you. It really pays dividends in your sanity to strictly limit your exposure to mass media, because that’s how the 1% turns your emotions against you, and you need your emotions on your side.

 

Its worth examining your emotions, because sometimes they well up from the very fiber of your being, and that emotion always has your best interest at heart. Your heart instinctively knows what’s best for you, and it will tell you so. On the other hand, if your heart’s not in it, get your body, mind, time and money out of it as well, and quit telling yourself how much you love it. Remember “the pursuit of happiness”? You will not find happiness by plunging yourself headlong into misery, day in and day out, no matter how much it pays, how proud it makes your parents, or how secure it makes you feel.

 

While you read On The Money; Economic advice for the 99%, pay attention to how your heart reacts to the ideas in this column. If you hear that little voice inside you say “Yes!”, “Right On!”, or even “That’d be nice.” when you read the ideas I present here, it’s because these ideas resonate with who we are as human beings, and our hearts remember what it was like to have meaningful, satisfying lives, instead of working ourselves to death for meaningless stuff.

 

In On The Money; Economic Advice for the 99%, I show you how to break out of those destructive habits that define our sick culture, and help you reclaim your life, your time, your dignity and your humanity, the things that really matter in life. On The Money;Economic Advice for the 99% represents a completely original and revolutionary approach to personal economics that challenges conventional thinking in a way that reveals the deceit, cruelty, and violence of our current economic system, and shows you how to turn the tables on the 1%.

 

So, read this column with an open heart, and realize that economics is bigger than money, its bigger than goods and services, its bigger than “the economy”, in fact. Economics is about how we live, how we exchange goods and services, and our impact on the environment, but economics is also about how we think and feel about our lives, and those things matter a hell of a lot more in life than the GDP, the unemployment rate, or the movements of any stock index. There’s a view of emotions in economics that’s On The Money.


On The Money, What’s the Deal?

On The Money

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

What’s the Deal?

Look, I’m not an idealist. I don’t oppose government and capital out of principle. I’m just looking for a deal I can live with. If you want my participation, especially if it involves work, I want to know… What is in it for me?  Frankly, the whole global economy/representative democracy thing looks like a pretty raw deal to me. I think I’ll opt out.

 

I can see where my parents generation might have thought they were getting a good deal, back when a guy with a high-school diploma could get a job that paid enough that he could afford a single family home, support a wife and a couple of kids, and buy an endless string of huge, tacky, unreliable cars. Sure, those jobs sucked. They involved long hours of repetitive work in dangerous, loud, hot, or otherwise unpleasant conditions, and they effectively drained people of their life force, but they provided comprehensive health coverage, pensions, and a couple weeks paid vacation every year. I could see where that might look like a deal you could live with. I don’t see anyone my age or younger getting a deal anything like that.

 

Worker productivity has risen exponentially in recent years, but workers saw no increase in wages. Instead, work became more concentrated, more demanding, and more draining, but wages did not improve. Mass layoffs and global outsourcing helped to suppress wages, while profits soared. Meanwhile, we lost health-coverage, because medicine has become such a ripoff. We lost pensions because of greedy Wall St. bloodsuckers, and we lost job security, because we’re all disposable in a global market.

Now that things like home ownership, job security, comprehensive health insurance and pensions have become relics of the past, the global economy really doesn’t offer as many “carrots” to working people anymore. These days, the motivation to work comes mostly in the form of “sticks”. Specifically, the cop’s nightstick, that he pokes into your ribcage while you are trying to get some sleep. Unless you have paid for a place to sleep, the cops will come and roust you. That is your motivation to work, these days.

Housing prices have skyrocketed in the last 30 years, while wages have stagnated. We don’t make any more money than we used to, but we come home more tired, and we pay a lot more for a place to come home to. Now that home-ownership has become a thing of the past for working people, we pay rent for a place to sleep, so we acquire no equity in our home, and as a result, we never get ahead. When it comes down to it, working for a living amounts to a kind of freelance slavery enforced by “cracker” cops on homeless patrol.

Increasingly, all over the world, people realize that the life of a worker in the global economy is not worth living. The deal is that bad. It’s so bad that at factories in China they have to lock the doors to the roof to prevent workers from leaping to their deaths. So, when you hear politicians promise more jobs, or hear talk about “the job creators”, remember what kind of jobs they create. Those jobs suck, and most of us would rather die than work at them.

It’s past time to walk away from the bargaining table. Your life is your own, and you belong on this planet. You have the right to take what you need of what you find around you, and to make your home on this green Earth. That is your birthright! That is the position you bargain from!

Don’t ever forget that its your life, and its your planet. You don’t owe them obedience to their laws, respect for their property or participation in their system. Don’t settle for the crumbs from the table. After all, its your your table, your plate, and your pie they are eating.


On The Money, Unemployment, Revised

I received an email recently from an editor at Fifth Estate magazine. They asked me to revise this piece and update the statistics for publication in their Summer, 2012 edition. I think it improved the piece quite a bit. I encourage all of you to subscribe, or at least pick up the new Summer 2012 edition of Fifth Estate, which should be on newsstands any day now.

On The Money

Financial Advice for the Working Class

Unemployment

You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about unemployment. The national unemployment rate hovers at about 8.3%, although experts agree that the number of people out-of-work far exceeds that figure. The 8.3% figure only reflects the number of people actually looking for work. It does not count the growing number of people who have stopped looking for work.

This “not working, not looking for work” segment of the population might really be on to something. Jobs don’t pay like they used to. Fewer jobs than ever actually provide a living wage. Housing costs came unhinged from wages years ago. Affordable housing used to mean that you had a decent place to live that cost no more than one-quarter of your monthly wage. How many of you can say you have affordable housing by that standard?

Most employers expect workers to have a phone, reliable transportation, and a presentable wardrobe whether or not the job pays enough to cover those costs. Workers often make these expenses a priority over their physical needs, sacrificing their own health for their employers profit. A full time job scarcely leaves workers enough time or energy to prepare healthy meals, further compromising health. For this meager existence, workers trade roughly half of their waking hours, and 60-80% of their life energy.

When you think about it that way, its a wonder anyone wants a job. So, lets look at these people who have stopped looking for work. How do they do it? How do they get by? What are they doing that’s working for them? Are they dealing drugs, robbing banks or hacking computers? They can’t all have the talent to deal, rob and hack profitably.

Half of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. Why can’t we? If living in a storm sewer and eating spit-roasted rat isn’t better than working for a living, its gotta be close. Life is too short to spend it in self-imposed slavery chasing an allusive, and mostly extinct middle-class illusion.

Most of us already know that we’re never going to be “super-rich”, but if you no longer aspire to be middle-class, a job no longer seems like such a necessary evil, and evil it is. If you can get out from under your job, you can reclaim your time, your energy, and your freedom. Three things working people have sold too cheaply for too long, all of them more valuable than money.

Face it, the biggest problem the world faces right now is too much money. Too much money caused the housing meltdown. Too much money caused the Fukushima meltdown and too much money caused the polar ice-cap meltdown. We’ve really got to stop thinking about how to make more money, and figure out how to live without it.

See, we’ve got about 7 billion people on the planet, and right now, damn near every one of them wants to make money. So they all start making stuff out of the rocks, trees, and animals they find around them, to sell for money. People who do well at this soon have more money that they need, but they don’t stop making stuff, instead, they expand. They buy machines that help them make more stuff faster and cheaper.

Soon, they have even more money, so they loan it to other people to expand their businesses, so they can make more stuff faster and cheaper. That way, they make even more money, but nobody wants their money just sitting around doing nothing. No, everyone wants their extra money to make even more money, and most people don’t care how it happens, as long as it happens.

So, all of this money really, really, wants make even more money out of whatever rocks, plants and animals that are still left on the planet, creating our present situation: We have rapidly increasing amounts of money chasing dwindling numbers of rocks, plants and animals, all over the world.

Today, this money exerts tremendous pressure on all of us. It constantly works to find new ways to extract more from us, and the planet, every day. It never rests and does not care about anything else but making more of itself. Money has become a monster. Stay away from it.

From this perspective, unemployment is not our most serious economic problem. Unemployment is the solution to our most serious economic problem. Don’t try to make money, that just exacerbates our global problems. Just find someplace to live and something to eat. If you can’t find a better way to do something than with money, consider that a failure of imagination.

We cannot afford to be productive workers any longer. Our own industriousness got us into this mess. The more productive we become as workers, the faster capitalists extract resources from the commons, and the more pollution the whole process creates. As a result, the whole world becomes impoverished, polluted and enslaved while a few people live ridiculously opulent lifestyles. Been there, done that.

We deserve a planet full of trees, rocks and animals, and we deserve the time and energy to enjoy them. Let them keep their soul-sucking, planet-raping, low-wage, no-benefit, endless grind of a job to themselves. Do something different with your life. Spit roasted rat is not half bad. There’s a view of the unemployment problem that’s On The Money.


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